THE MORNING FLIER -- DEMPSEY FASTEST IN STAR MAZDA FRIDAY P2 BUT CONOR DALY'S QUICK LAP IN P1 SETS THE BAR FOR SATURDAY MORNING QUALIFYING A familiar order re-emerged in the final Friday afternoon Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear ...
THE MORNING FLIER -- DEMPSEY FASTEST IN STAR MAZDA FRIDAY P2 BUT CONOR DALY'S QUICK LAP IN P1 SETS THE BAR FOR SATURDAY MORNING QUALIFYING
A familiar order re-emerged in the final Friday afternoon Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear practice session at Mosport;Jchampionship points leader and 4-time race winner Peter Dempsey was quickest with a 1:15.406 (117.396 mph) in the #3 Juncos Racing / The Collection / Motorsport Ireland / Queyside.ie Mazda. Adam Christodoulou, second in the championship and the only other driver this season with more than one win, was second with a 1:15.467 (just 0.061-sec. behind) driving the #11 JDC Motorsports / Molecule / Alpinestars Mazda. Third was Richard Kent, driving the #33 Andersen Racing / Traka Allied Interior Products Mazda to a lap of 1:15.514 (117.229 mph) while Conor Daly was fourth, turning a lap of 1:15.571 (117.140 mph) in the #22 Andersen Racing / College Network / Indeck / Cytomax Mazda. Rounding out the top-5 was Trois-Rivieres pole-sitter (and 2nd-place finisher) Rusty Mitchell, who turned a lap of 1:15.598 (117.098 mph) in the #66 Mitchell Motorsports / Motorola Mazda. So the top-5 in the afternoon session were all less than 2/10ths of a second apart around the challenging 10-turn, 2.459-mile Mosport road circuit.
"It's great to get back on top and I really have to thank Ricardo Juncos and everyone at the team for all the effort they made for me," said Dempsey. "Our aim, under the circumstances, was to come here and just try and get some points, but if we could take home a race win and build our points lead back up after what happened at Trois-Rivieres, that would be great. Its going to be tough, though, because Conor and Adam and Richard all seem to be quite well hooked up, but I won this race last year and that helps. I know I could go out and just try to be in the top-5 at the last three races and that would win the championship, but for me, I always have to go out and try to do the best I can in every race, and if that brings the championship to me, then so be it."
But when you look at a merge of times from both the morning and afternoon session, it was Conor Daly's morning flier of 1:14.914 that set the mark at which the rest of the field - including himself - is still shooting. In the merge, Kent was second-fast with his morning time of 1:15.258, but Dempsey went 3/10ths quicker in the afternoon (1:15.406 vs 1:15.731 in the morning) and still wound up third. Adam Christodoulou, coming back from a disastrous Thursday test session in which he crashed in both the morning and afternoon sessions, found his footing and improved almost a full second from morning to afternoon (1:16.268 vs. 1:15.467) and would up 4th overall. Likewise Rusty Mitchell made a big jump from morning to afternoon (1:16.297 vs. 1:15.598).
Master Series racer Gerry Kraut improved in P2, posting a 1:17.109 in his #55 JDC Motorsports / Dougherty & Co. / Dougherty Funding LLC Mazda -- good for 14th-fast overall. The quickest Expert Series driver (ages 30-44) was Toshihiro Deki, improving by nearly half a second to 1:20.007 -- 17th-fast overall -- ion his #80 Juncos Racing Mazda.
All of which -- save for Conor Daly's morning flier - would seem to suggest a combination of improving conditions (cooler and cloudier) in the afternoon, as well as teams refining setups and drivers gaining confidence on a track which requires the commitment of driving flat-out through at least three blind turns in search of a fast lap. And it all may be scrambled by the weather in any case; heavy rains are predicted for tonight and early morning, with qualifying for tomorrow afternoon's race scheduled to take place 9:20 am, with the race going green at 5.35 pm.