Portland: Taylor Hacquard preview

Hacquard Returns with Portland Double Vancouver, Canada (July 22, 2008) -- It's been a long seven weeks without racing for Taylor Hacquard but this weekend sees the Vancouver open-wheel racer return to competition with Rounds 4 and 5 of the...

Hacquard Returns with Portland Double

Vancouver, Canada (July 22, 2008) -- It's been a long seven weeks without racing for Taylor Hacquard but this weekend sees the Vancouver open-wheel racer return to competition with Rounds 4 and 5 of the 2008 Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear hosted at the Portland International Raceway (PIR), Oregon, Friday 25th -- Sunday 27th July.

The 18-year-old heads to the 1.967-mile facility, his 'home' circuit due to its proximity to British Columbia, eager to maintain what has been an impressive start to his rookie season in Star Mazda. While a disappointing third round in early June resulted in only a 16th place finish, Taylor kicked off the season with a brace of top-ten finishes in undoubtedly one of the most competitive fields in North American competition -- the highlight to-date being Hacquard's performance in Round 2 at Miller Motorsports Park in May where he qualified seventh and finished sixth at the checkered.

This weekend's Portland double-header, featuring in a packed 'Mazda Grand Prix' weekend, will see Taylor hoping to break the top-ten once again and build on his seventh place standing in the points chase piloting the #15 Wolfe Auto Group/World Speed Motorsports entry. The event also marks the beginning of a more regular schedule with the PIR races followed by three event weekends in August taking in Wisconsin's famed Road America (August 9th) and back-to-back Canadian races at Quebec's Trois Rivieres street course (August 17th) and Ontario's sweeping Mosport International Raceway road course (August 23rd).

"The break in the schedule wasn't too bad as it means I'm able to come back to racing in Portland feeling fresh and raring to go," reflected Hacquard. "My last race at Watkins Glen didn't exactly go to plan so it was nice to get some time off after that just to reflect on things and it means I'm probably better prepared heading into the Portland double. It's also a bonus that having had such a lengthy lay-off we're back with two races in the one weekend.

"I really like the PIR track. I had my first race in a Star Mazda car there last season and ran as high as seventh before an incident forced me out but it was a good run. Prior to that race I'd also competed in a double regional weekend with the SCCA and I've enjoyed a few tests in Portland as well so I've got quite a bit of experience there. I like fast-paced, flowing circuits like PIR and it's a great place to be if you can get your set-up hooked up just right. Portland's also my home track so I'm looking forward to being back there and I've got a bunch of friends and family coming down to see me race which will be fun."

The action in Oregon gets underway on Thursday 24th July with two days of testing and practice at PIR before Round 4 on Saturday 26th July at 2pm PT, followed by Round 5 on Sunday 27th July at 2pm PT -- www.starmazda.com / www.mazdagrandprix.com

SPEED will broadcast Rounds 4 and 5 from Portland International Raceway as a tape-delay on Saturday 9th August starting at Noon ET -- www.speedtv.com

2008 Top-8 Star Mazda Drivers -- R3/12: 1st Charles Hall (124pts), 2nd Joel Miller (122pts), 3rd Peter Dempsey (105pts), 4th Alex Ardoin (98pts), 5th Billy Goshen (86pts), 6th Mike Hill (79pts), 7th TAYLOR HACQUARD (77pts), 8th John Edwards (75pts)

-credit; www.taylorhacquard.com

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Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Charles Hall , John Edwards , Alex Ardoin , Billy Goshen , Taylor Hacquard , Joel Miller , Peter Dempsey