AIM Autosport started the Star Mazda Championship weekend at Road America with two strong qualifying efforts, then had to overcome a string of issues to finish sixth and seventh in the 45-minute race on Saturday. Natacha Gachnang of St-Gingolph,...
AIM Autosport started the Star Mazda Championship weekend at Road America with two strong qualifying efforts, then had to overcome a string of issues to finish sixth and seventh in the 45-minute race on Saturday.
Natacha Gachnang of St-Gingolph, Switzerland, qualified the No. 35 Pro Formula Mazda third on the 27-car grid with a fast lap of two minutes 6.848 seconds on the 4.048-mile road course in Elkhart Lake, Wis. Her teammate, Devin Cunningham of St-Bruno, Que., qualified next to her with a time of 2:07.002 in the No. 33 Discovery Channel Canada Mazda.
The race challenged both drivers. Gachnang was bumped off track early in the race and dropped to the back of the field. She worked back up to 11th, then was collected by a car spinning in front of her, zapping her to the back again. Despite a bent front wing and damaged nose on the car, she charged again to finish seventh.
"I qualified third, so that was pretty good," she said. "The car was fast -- I was [less than] two-tenths slower than the pole and I could have done the pole time because my lap was not really perfect. I made a little mistake, but the car was really good.
"In the race, two times I was last and once I came back to 11th, then crashed again, then seventh, so with all the bad stuff, I'm pretty happy. I think I overtook 30 cars! It's a little sad because I could have fought with the guys in front, the top three guys. I was one-tenth faster than [James] Davison, who won the race. He was [later] disqualified, but he won the race. The car was pretty good."
Cunningham had a strong car all weekend, but started to lose power due to an electrical problem after the first caution period of the race. He was in the wrong place twice, as he crested a hill and hit another car's crash box, then encountered a two-car crash in front of him. Despite a damaged front wing and loss of downforce, he was able to recover from 13th to finish sixth.
"I'm really happy with the Discovery Channel AIM Autosport car," he said. "We had some bad luck during the race -- I hit a crash box and there was a bad crash in front of me. I completely lost the downforce on the front wing. Overall, so much went wrong, but we still got sixth. The team did a fantastic job!
"I keep getting harder and harder on myself, with first in Portland and second in Toronto, I think I've got to be on the podium every race. The next four races are pretty close together, so we've just got to keep pushing and stay focused, learn from each race and get some good finishes."
AIM is third in Star Mazda team standings, with four races remaining this season.
-credit: -- aimautosport.com --