James Hinchcliffe triumphs in Round Nine at Road America August 20, 2005. Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. James Hinchcliffe, of Oakville, Ontario, Canada, survived a three car duel with Robbie Pecorari and Raphael Matos to earn his second victory of...
James Hinchcliffe triumphs in Round Nine at Road America
August 20, 2005. Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. James Hinchcliffe, of Oakville, Ontario, Canada, survived a three car duel with Robbie Pecorari and Raphael Matos to earn his second victory of the season with his NOCO/Mobil One AIM Autosport Mazda in Round Nine of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, held today on the 4.048-mile Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake Wisconsin, as part of the American Le Mans Series Generac 500 weekend.
Driving the SAI Hydraulics Andersen Walko racing Mazda, Pecorari, from Aston, Pennsylvania, fought off championship points leader Matos while trying to find a way past Hinchcliffe to finish second for his fifth podium finish of the season. Matos, of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, made an amazing save to complete the podium, finishing just 0.461 seconds behind Hinchcliffe to finish third and secure his sixth podium finish of the season in his Ocean Tomo Racing Mazda.
Lining up in the third spot on the grid, Hinchcliffe would escape a first corner incident that knocked out several of the front-runners, and then jump into the lead with a daring pass on Matos when the green flag came out again on lap six. "I've had some pretty good restarts this season, but at our last race at Portland I wound up losing the lead on a restart and I made sure that that wouldn't happen again," Hinchcliffe explained. "When the green flag came back out I was able to get a draft on Raphael and jump into the lead."
His position would be anything but secure though as the caution flag came out one lap latter and this time he would find himself having to defend the lead. "I knew Raphael would try to get the spot back on the restart but I was able to get a solid start and he wasn't close enough to draft his way past."
Pecorari, who came into the weekend in second place in points, would line up alongside Matos at the start, and after surviving contact on the opening lap with his teammate, Graham Rahal, he would find himself in the thick of the battle with Hinchcliffe and Matos, finishing just 0.374 seconds behind Hinchcliffe. "As we came into the first corner on the opening lap I felt a bump and when I looked in my mirrors I saw Pablo Donoso going airborne," Pecorari revealed. "The car wasn't damaged though and then I just focused on the race."
Falling to third place on that opening lap, Pecorari would squeeze his way past Matos on the outside of turn five to move into the second position, and then try to work his way past Hinchcliffe on the final lap. "The three of us are all battling for the championship so we know that contact can hurt all of us so we give each other racing room," he would explain. "I was able to get get around Raphael but the laps ran out before I could catch James."
After pulling away to victory in the first four races of the season, third place finisher Matos has had to battle to maintain his points lead the past few events, and here at Road America had to perform an amazing recovery to stay in the race to the checkered flag as he went four wheels off as he fought to regain second position. "We were coming to the front-straight and I was trying to get a run on Robbie so I could draft past on the front straight but I ran out of track."
Recovering from the miscue, Matos, who would set the fast lap for the race with a 2:07.303, regrouped and closed the gap as Hinchcliffe and Pecorari fought to the finish. "I knew that Robbie was going to try to make a run on James as they headed towards Canada Corner on the final lap, and was watching to see if there would be an opening," Matos explained. "I'd like to get back onto the top step of the podium as the team has been working so hard."
While the top three were battling nose-to-tail the drive of the race had to belong to Sean Guthrie in his Car Crafters Guthrie Racing Mazda. Lining up twenty-ninth in the thirty-four car field after suffering a clutch problem during the series' only qualifying session, Guthrie would carve his way through the field during the fifteen lap event to finish sixth.
With nine of twelve races complete, Matos maintains the championship lead with 347 points while Hinchcliffe and Pecorari fall into a tie for second place with 318 points each. Graham Rahal, who was unable to continue following the first lap incident, is fourth with 259 points, and Marco Andretti rounds out the top five with 241 points.
In the Expert Series Championship, for drivers aged 30-44, Mike Andersen, of Green Pond, New Jersey, finished fourth overall in his Andersen Interiors Mazda to claim the victory. Mickey Gilbert, of Golden, Colorado, finished second in the class and continues to lead the championship with 147 points. Matos' teammate James Malackowski, would finish third in class and moves into second in the championship with 112 points while Brian Thienes holds onto third place with 110 points
In the Masters Championship, for drivers aged 45 and older, John Faulkner, of Pittsford, New York, recorded his 3 victory of the year in his Peregrine Motorsports Mazda to move into a tie with Velocity Motorsports driver John Pew for first place with 142 points each. Former Masters Champion Doug Peterson sits in third place in his 3-Dimensional Services Mazda with 124 points.
The Star Mazda Championship now enters the final three rounds of the championship with a trip to Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada with the American Le Mans Series for Round Ten at Mosport International Raceway on September 1-3. Round Nine from Road America is scheduled to be broadcast by Speed Channel on Sunday, October 2nd at 2:00PM Eastern Time.