JOHN WALKO RACING RETURNS AT NEW JERSEY MOTORSPORTS PARK TRAFFORD, Pa. - The John Walko Racing (JWR) Team visited the New Jersey Motorsports Park for both rounds nine and ten of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear....
JOHN WALKO RACING RETURNS AT NEW JERSEY MOTORSPORTS PARK
TRAFFORD, Pa. - The John Walko Racing (JWR) Team visited the New Jersey Motorsports Park for both rounds nine and ten of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear. After having been absent from the previous three events the JWR Team was excited to have two drivers competing at New Jersey.
The JWR Team had never visited the New Jersey Motorsports Park complex and was excited to get back on track. The team was also excited to field two drivers new to their roster list. Rookie Kevin Toledo, a 17 year old Chilean who is also competing in the Formula Renault 1.6 Championship in Argentina piloted the #27 Eliseo-THL Pro Formula Mazda and veteran Master's class contender Michael Guasch from Molecule Labs Inc. piloted the #91 Molecule Pro Formula Mazda of John Walko Racing. In addition, neither driver had even completed a lap around the challenging Thunderbolt circuit. Nevertheless, the team set their goals high for the weekend.
Friday practice saw both drivers working steadily on setup and track knowledge.
Eliseo Salazar, Kevin Toledo's manager had this to say,
"He (Kevin Toledo) was always in the middle of the grid, 13th, 14th. The fact that he didn't make any major mistakes and that he ran with and was beating more experienced drivers is what we were looking for."
Mike Guasch, with the aid of Speed Secrets driver coach Gordon Bentley, was focused on getting comfortable in the car and learning the track.
"We did not have the opportunity to test before the race which really set us back. This meant that I had to learn the track while working really hard at getting the car setup for my driving style."
Saturday JWR qualified Kevin Toledo in the 13th spot and Mike Guasch in the 23rd position. The hot, humid, and often very dirty conditions tested the John Walko Team. Both drivers achieved outstanding results with both drivers moving up quickly. Kevin Toledo finished 10th and Mike Guasch saw a final result of 17th.
Eliseo Salazar was excited after Saturday's race.
"This was by far the biggest Challenge of Kevin's career. In his first Star Mazda race he ended up finishing 10th. Top ten was our goal."
Eric Langbein, Kevin Toledo's engineer commented post race,
"On a whole I feel we accomplished our goal. Kevin did an excellent job to overcame unfamiliarity and adverse conditions."
Sunday saw conditions that were again hot and humid but the team was set for another day of tough competition. Sunday's schedule did not include any practice sessions and the drivers only saw the track for qualifying and the race.
Mike Guasch started to feel comfortable in his car and was able to move forward several spots. He brought the #91 John Walko Racing machine home in the 19th position which was three better than his starting position.
"Overall I had a really fun weekend! I loved working with my mechanic Scott and engineer John Walko. It was just unfortunate that we did not get to test beforehand. Although, I feel that I drove as well was I could have driven given the circumstances."
Kevin Toledo battled an ill handling chassis in qualifying and as a result started the 10th round of the Star Mazda Championship Series in 17th. Adjustments were made to the car but little improvement was found. After completing the first 22 laps Toledo brought his car into the pits and retired.
Eliseo Salazar talked about Kevin Toledo's experiences on Sunday.
"We made some changes to the car that didn't work with the track and the day, but this was a try out for next year. The car wasn't handling right and Kevin lost a few positions so we decided to bring him in."