Mid-Ohio: AWR race notes

Two AWR Drivers Finish on the Podium, Two More Are in Top 10 Saturday at Mid-Ohio LEXINGTON, Ohio, May 21 - Andersen Walko Racing's Pablo Donoso and Robbie Pecorari both finished on the podium Saturday afternoon in the Star Mazda race at the ...

Two AWR Drivers Finish on the Podium, Two More Are in Top 10 Saturday at Mid-Ohio

LEXINGTON, Ohio, May 21 - Andersen Walko Racing's Pablo Donoso and Robbie Pecorari both finished on the podium Saturday afternoon in the Star Mazda race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, while two more of the team's drivers, Jonathan Klein and Graham Rahal, also recorded solid top-10 finishes.

The team's driver coach, Mike Andersen, entered the race just for fun and was pleased that all his "students" finished ahead of him. He finished 12th to round out an extremely successful weekend for the team, which is based in North Versailles, Pa. and Fairfield, N.J.

Donoso, of Santiago, Chile, finished second. He couldn't quite get around Raphael Matos, who led every lap of the 30-lap, 48-minute race, which was presented by Goodyear. Donoso's Cristal Beer-sponsored car also qualified second only to Matos's car in the 45-car field.

Pecorari, of Aston, Pa., who like Donoso and Rahal are rookies in the series, started seventh in the SAI Hydraulics-sponsored car. He had a great start and then ran in fourth place behind his teammate, Rahal, for the first half of the race. Rahal's car developed some problems and he spun and fell back, but Pecorari went on to place third.

Klein, of Long Grove, Ill., finished just behind Marco Andretti and Mark Wilkins to nail down sixth in his car, which is sponsored by Nexus Distribution Corp., Midwest Steel and Services, Ironclad Performance Wear and ProStar. He started 13th but moved up through the field quickly and even set the second-fastest lap of the race.

Rahal ran in third for a good portion of the event and he would have finished higher than tenth had he not spun, but it was still another solid top-10 result for the teen from New Albany, Ohio. His car is sponsored by The Bobby Rahal Automotive Group, Bosch, Norwalk Furniture and Renier Construction.

Scott Jenkins, who held the track record here before Matos and 10 other drivers qualified faster than that on Saturday morning, was sandwiched between AWR's Rahal and Andersen at the finish. The latter lives in Green Pond, N.J. and drives a car carrying the decals of Andersen Interior Contracting.

The race ended under caution when Brian Thienes flipped. Luckily he wasn't hurt.

The AWR squad also had excellent results in qualifying Saturday morning, as Donoso qualified second; Rahal was fourth; Andersen and Pecorari qualified sixth and seventh, respectively and Klein was 13th. Four of the five AWR drivers all qualified faster than the old track record.

Saturday's race was a support event to an American Le Mans Series (ALMS) headliner on Sunday.

The Star Mazda race held at Road Atlanta Motorsports Park on April 16 is scheduled to be shown on SPEED from 2 p.m. until 3 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, May 29. Saturday's race from Mid-Ohio is slated to be shown from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, June 5 on the same network.

The 12-race season is now a quarter complete. The next race on the Star Mazda calendar is Saturday, June 11 at the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit in Montreal, Quebec as a support event to the Canadian Grand Prix Formula 1 race.

According to the provisional point standings issued after Saturday's race, Pecorari is third overall by two points over Rahal. Klein is sixth and Donoso is 14th.

For more information please see andersenwalko.com, starmazda.com, americanlemans.com and restartcommunications.com or call (973) 244-1900.

Quotes follow:

Pablo Donoso: "I looked inside of Raphael once early in the race but he was able to hold me off and his car was working perfectly today. I'm looking for that first win though."

Robbie Pecorari: "Everyone at Andersen Walko Racing does an excellent job and I'm able to work with good teammates that all want to get to the front.

"We started seventh. On the start I just went down the inside. It seemed like some of the guys weren't ready for the green, so I got a couple places on the start.

"Then I followed Graham for about half of the race. Then his car seemed to go away a little and he spun, which is how I got third.

"We finished under caution; somebody flipped. It was a pretty bad crash.

"Now we go to Montreal.  It will be an interesting race. No one is going to
have any track time there.  Whoever can get a good set-up in two practice
sessions is going to be quick.  It's going to be a challenge."

Graham Rahal: "I was running third when I spun in the carousel. Nobody else was involved. The car was good. There were a couple of things we were struggling with, and we'll work on them before the next race. It would have been hard to stay in third place, but we wouldn't have ended up tenth without the spin either.

"The engine was good; we had no problems with that. It was dry for the race.

"Now we go to Montreal. I raced there before in Formula BMW, so I actually know that course a little [even though I'm a rookie in Star Mazda]. Hopefully that will give us a little bit of an advantage."

Jonathan Klein: ""We had some trouble in qualifying when I spun into the grass and got stuck toward the end of the session, and as a result I lost my fast laps, but the Andersen Walko crew gave me great car and I was able to move through the field.

"The car was fantastic in the race. We did a test there before the race, and that really helped. We finished sixth, but in my mind we would have been fourth if there hadn't been a caution there at the end.

"On lap 25 of the 30-lap race I set the second-fastest lap of the race; nobody but Matos did a better lap during the race. The car was no worse four laps from the end of the race than it was four laps into the race, which is a real testament to the Andersen Walko team.

"I moved up to sixth in the point standings, which is especially important going into Montreal. Since we're with the Formula 1 race we don't have much track time, and we're going to start by points there. We'll have two practice sessions and then the race. Sixth will be my best starting position in a long time. If I can move up as many positions as I usually do, we should win!

"Next week we're going to test at Pikes Peak, and I'm excited about that too. I love the ovals!"

-awr-

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About this article
Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Graham Rahal , Gilles Villeneuve , Marco Andretti , Robbie Pecorari , Pablo Donoso , Jonathan Klein , Brian Thienes