STAR MAZDA MASTER SERIES CHAMPION MIKE GUASCH SWITCHES FROM OPEN WHEEL RACING TO SPORTS CARS -- WILL COMPETE IN 2010 FIA GT3 SERIES IN EUROPE Mike Guasch, the racer from Walnut Creek, California who won the 2009 Star Mazda Championship...
STAR MAZDA MASTER SERIES CHAMPION MIKE GUASCH SWITCHES FROM OPEN WHEEL
RACING TO SPORTS CARS -- WILL COMPETE IN 2010 FIA GT3 SERIES IN EUROPE
Mike Guasch, the racer from Walnut Creek, California who won the 2009 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear 'Master Series' title will switch from open-wheel racing to sports cars in 2010 as co-driver of the #22 United Autosports / MOLECULE Labs / MG4 Manufacturing Audi R8 LMS car competing in the FIA GT3 European Championship. His co-driver on the two-car United Autosport team will be Mark Patterson, another past Star Mazda Master Series competitor who has been running for the last 5 years in the Grand Am Rolex series driving a Daytona Prototype. The duo will share the car in 12 1-hour events held in six countries, including Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Germany, France, Portugal and Italy during a season that stretches from May 2 to October 31.
"To race in the FIA GT-3 series will be a great adventure and I frankly can't wait," said Guasch. "The caliber of teams and drivers is absolutely top-shelf, and there is a lot of interest from the media because Henri and I make up an all-American team. I've lived in Europe in the past, so I know the culture and the food and I expect to spend a lot of time there testing and working to be competitive in the series."
Guasch, 52, a semi-retired businessman and entrepreneur, has a long history of competition in motocross and Jet Ski racing, but his 2006-2009 program as a driver in the intensely competitive Star Mazda Championship -- crowned by his first-ever national racing title -- marks his first foray into auto racing. He clinched his championship with six in-class victories driving the #91 JDC Motorsports / Molecule Labs / MG4 Manufacturing Mazda. The Master Series is a race-within-a-race for drivers 45 and older that pits businessmen/racers against the hottest young drivers in the world in high-tech, Indy-style cars that battle wheel-to-wheel at speeds up to 160 mph.
"The Star Mazda Championship is a tremendous training ground for drivers of any age, and I feel well-prepared to take on this new challenge," says Guasch. "I'll get to drive my new GT car for the first time later this week, but I recently did a three-hour endurance race in a Porsche to get a feel for racing a sports car. It's a somewhat claustrophobic experience at first, with all that metal around you, and while the car is more powerful and faster in a straight line than my Star Mazda, it reacts much more slowly in the corners. But I got the hang of it pretty quickly and turned some respectable laps, so with even more time testing and racing my new R8 LMS, I expect to be very competitive; it's just a matter of dedication, that's what makes anyone good at what they do."
[IMAGE]Guasch's first experience behind the wheel of the R8 LMS comes next week in Algarve, Portugal. From there, the United Autosports team heads for a test at Silverstone, England and then for a 'balance of power' test at Dijon, France during which the GT3 series officials will work to make sure the various cars competing are as equal as possible in performance. The team will 'warm up' with a race in the British GT championship and begin the GT3 series races at Silverstone on May 2.
"This program appeals to both the driver and the businessman in me because the United Autosports team is very specially presented with a full-blown hospitality suite and brand new race cars," says Guasch. "The team is owned by Zak Brown of Just Marketing Inc., the company that brought IZOD and the Indy Racing League together. He's also co-driving the second car and his company is the marketing organization for the GT3 series, so there's a lot of commercial interest in this program. We're in negotiation with some very large companies and it will be an interesting experience, for the first time in my life, to have supplemental income from sponsorship on my race car."
-source: mike guasch