Montreal: AWR Saturday race notes

Two AWR Drivers Finish on the Podium In Star Mazda Race Prior to Canadian GP MONTREAL, Quebec, June 11 - Half of Andersen Walko Racing's four Star Mazda drivers finished on the podium Saturday in the Star Mazda race at the Gilles Villeneuve ...

Two AWR Drivers Finish on the Podium In Star Mazda Race Prior to Canadian GP

MONTREAL, Quebec, June 11 - Half of Andersen Walko Racing's four Star Mazda drivers finished on the podium Saturday in the Star Mazda race at the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit here in front of a large crowd that also enjoyed qualifying for Sunday's Grand Prix of Canada Formula 1 race.

AWR's Graham Rahal of New Albany, Ohio finished second in the 26-lap, 42-car race, while Robbie Pecorari of Aston, Pa. placed third.

The team's other two drivers, Pablo Donoso of Santiago, Chile and Jonathan Klein of Long Grove, Ill., both had contact with other competitors at the start of the race. Donoso, who topped the first practice session on Friday, finished seventh in the race while Klein struggled with a bent wing and finished 14th.

Due to limited track time the Star Mazda grid was established by points. Pecorari started third; Rahal started fourth; Klein started sixth and Donoso started 14th.

Rahal had a great start and wasted no time getting to second, but he couldn't catch Raphael Matos, the polesitter and eventual winner. Rahal's No. 12, which is sponsored by The Bobby Rahal Automotive Group, Bosch, Norwalk Furniture and Renier Construction, was 2.775 seconds behind Matos at the checkered.

Pecorari had his hands full with Rahal and Scott Jenkins at the start but he still was able to battle back up to third at the line and set the third-fastest lap of the race in the process with his SAI Hydraulics-sponsored car. He also finished third in the last race.

Donoso's Cristal Beer-sponsored entry had contact with Marco Andretti's car on the first lap. Donoso, who finished second at the last race, said his car wasn't damaged much but the time lost in the scuffle cost him seconds that he couldn't regain, and he finished seventh.

Klein had similar contact with the driver who started in front of him, James Hinchcliffe, at the start. Klein had his hands full with a bent front wing from the incident, and he was 14th at the end in the car sponsored by Nexus Distribution Corp., Midwest Steel and Services, Ironclad Performance Wear and ProStar.

The next race will be held at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo. on July 3. It's the first of four races on the circuit in July, as there is a doubleheader at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. July 16-17 and then an event at Portland (Ore.) International Raceway on July 30. The race at PPIR is the only one on the 2005 schedule to be staged on an oval racetrack.

The participants will have to set their VCRs to see SPEED's coverage of Saturday's race from Montreal because they'll be racing at PPIR when it airs at 11 a.m. ET on July 3. The PPIR race is scheduled to be broadcast on the same network at 2 p.m. ET July 24.

Quotes follow:

Graham Rahal: "I got a good start and got up to second, and then basically I just stayed there. I hung on the back of Matos as close as I could and finished second. I didn't have any problems. Everything was good. The car had a slight push, but it was manageable. The [Goodyear] tires were consistent. They lasted the entire race and never fell off, and that's what we needed."

Robbie Pecorari: "Graham got by me at the start and then I raced with [James] Hinchcliffe for awhile. I think I got third again about a third of the way through the race.

"I used lapped traffic to try to make some passes on Graham but I couldn't get around him, so I just went on and finished third. I didn't have any contact with anybody.

"My car had a slight understeer but I was happy with it for the most part. With so little practice before the race I couldn't ask for much more."

Pablo Donoso: "I had to start way back because of points, and then I had contact with [Marco] Andretti at the start of the race. The wing was bent a little but the car wasn't too bad even after the contact; my lap times were still good.

"We must improve a little bit for the next race. Eliseo [Salazar, his driver coach] will teach me about the ovals, and we're really looking forward to it."

Jonathan Klein: "I just got a little too close to James Hinchcliffe in the corner at the start. It bent my front wing, and from that point on I had no grip in the corners. The contact was right at the start in the first corner. I had my hands full from that point on, and went from sixth to 14th and that was it. That's all there is to my race. At least we got points."

-awr-

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Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Bobby Rahal , Graham Rahal , Marco Andretti , Robbie Pecorari , Pablo Donoso , Jonathan Klein , James Hinchcliffe