-- RISING CANADIAN STARS HEAT UP THE STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP AT MOSPORT-- North America's hottest open-wheel driver development series heads into the 3-race home stretch with six drivers on the win list and a dozen still in the championship ...
-- RISING CANADIAN STARS HEAT UP THE STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP AT MOSPORT--
North America's hottest open-wheel driver development series heads into the 3-race home stretch with six drivers on the win list and a dozen still in the championship battle
Fast Facts -- Round 11 of the 13- Race 2009 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at the Mobil1 Presents the Grand Prix of Mosport, August 28 -- 30
Mosport International Raceway (August 25, 2009) -- With three races remaining on the schedule and twelve of the series' 25 regular drivers still mathematically in contention for the championship, the battle for supremacy in this weekend's Mobil 1 Present the Grand Prix of Mosport - Round 11 of the 13-race 2009 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear -- is sure to be a wheel-to-wheel crowd-pleaser.
Carrying the flag for Canada and Ontario racing fans will be a pair of young rising stars from Toronto. David Ostella (left), from Maple, Ontario, Canada drives the #71 GP Global Precast/Alpinestars Mazda for Woodbridge-based AIM Autosport (the team that won the Star Mazda championship in 2008 with American John Edwards). A karting champion who moved up to Formula BMW in 2008 and graduated to the Star Mazda Championship this season, Ostella was born Oct. 8, 1991 in Toronto. Currently 12th in the championship battle, his best result so far was a podium finish on the 7/8ths-mile oval at Iowa Speedway and he has also scored three top-10 finishes so far this season and comes to Mosport 12th in the championship.
Michael Furfari (left), the youngest driver in the series (born Feb. 5, 1993 in Toronto) drives the #13 Furfari Paving Mazda for the Texas-based Team Mundill -- the team that won the Milwaukee Mile oval race in June with Anders Krohn. He is currently 9th among 32 drivers entered in the championship, with seven top-10 finishes. Furfari started racing karts at age 12, graduated to open-wheel cars in 2007 and qualified on pole for his first-ever open wheel race (in the Skip Barber series), moved up to a Star Mazda test program in 2008 and began competing full-time in the series in 2009.
And while these rising young Canadian stars are racers to be reckoned with in this weekend's 45-minute Star Mazda Championship race, Ostella and Furfari still face formidable opposition from the deepest and most diverse talent pool in recent Star Mazda history; Saturday's starting grid will feature drivers from ten countries, including three of the top-4 and seven of the top-10 challengers from the 2008 championship. J Currently leading the pack with a convincing dominance that has only reinforced the appropriateness of his nickname -- The Irish Steamroller -- is championship leader Peter Dempsey, winner of this event in 2008. Last year, his first season in the Star Mazda Championship, he won four races, three of them in a row, including Road America and both Canadian rounds, Trois-Rivi0x00e8res and Mosport. In 2009, with three races still to go, he has already won four events, with two different teams and on both road courses and ovals. Though his Trois-Rivi0x00e8res race two weeks ago was a disaster -- a mis-communication with his team resulted in him starting last from pit lane and mechanical problems in the race relegated him to a 13th-place finish -- he still leads the championship battle by 10 points. If he's able to return to form this weekend, expect to see his #3 Juncos Racing / Motorsport Ireland / Queyside.ie Mazda at the sharp end of the field.
One other driver has won multiple races and showed dominant form early in the season, Englishman Adam Christodoulou, the 2008 European Formula Renault champion. Driving the #11 JDC Motorsports / Molecule / Alpinestars Mazda, he won the season-opener at Sebring, won from the pole at Salt Lake City and has four podium finishes. With a 5th-place finish at Trois-Rivi0x00e8res, he remains 2nd in the championship but tightens up the points battle (355 vs. 365 for Dempsey -- a win in Star Mazda is worth 44 points).
Also having scored wins this season are Christodoulou's fellow Englishman, Richard Kent, Scandinavian racer Anders Krohn and the American son of an Irish racing legend, Conor Daly. Kent burst on the Star Mazda scene in the final race of the 2008 season, winning from the pole at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in his first-ever race in the series. Returning in 2009 to drive the #33 Andersen Racing / Traka Allied Interior Products Mazda, he started from the pole and finished second at Sebring, missed Round 2 due to a non-racing ankle injury, and won from the pole in Race 2 of a two-race weekend at New Jersey; he is currently 8th in the championship with 272 points after a difficult race at Trois-Rivi0x00e8res that saw him finish 19th.
Anders Krohn, the 2008 FF2000 champion, scored his first-ever Star Mazda victory on the Milwaukee Mile oval driving the #27 Team Mundill / Trallfa / Colosseum Mazda; he is 6th in the championship with 284 points, just 17 points behind Trois-Rivi0x00e8res winner Alex Ardoin (left). This extremely talented Louisiana racer won the 2007 Star Mazda season-ender, finished fourth in the 2008 championship and has endured a long string of bad luck that -- hopefully -- came to an end at the legendary Quebec street circuit. He drives the #51 JDC Motorsports / Oral & Facial Surgery Center / Twister Trailer Mazda.
Also a 2009 race winner is Conor Daly, son of racing legend and famed motorsports broadcaster Derek Daly. He was the 2008 Skip Barber Pro Series champion and won his 2009 Star Mazda Championship drive in the #22 Andersen Racing / College Network / Indeck / Cytomax Mazda courtesy of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder; this unique program is the only automaker-supported ladder program in auto racing today, reaching all the way from karting to the top levels of the sport. Daly is 4th in the championship with a win from the pole in Race 1 at New Jersey, three podium finishes and 302 points. He also is looking to come back from a difficult race at Trois-Rivi0x00e8res where he finished 14th.
Drivers with wins in previous seasons who are always a threat to break through with another victory include Californian Joel Miller, the 2007 Skip Barber Pro Series champion who raced in 2008 with sponsorship from the MAZDASPEED ladder and won from the pole in his series debut at last year's season-opener in Sebring. Now racing the #2 Andersen Racing / Fader Higher Productions / eSoles / Doug Mockett & Co. Mazda, he is 3rd in the championship with 312 points and a podium finish at Trois-Rivi0x00e8res. Texan Rusty Mitchell, not yet a race winner, has shown considerable form in recent races, starting from the pole and leading most of the race before ultimately finishing 2nd at Trois-Rivi0x00e8res, his best result so far this season driving the #66 Mitchell Motorsports / Motorola Mazda.
In addition to the young rising stars of the series, the Star Mazda Championship also includes categories for more mature racers in whom the competitive fire still burns brightly. As a result, in the streets of Trois-Rivi0x00e8res, fans will see corporate CEO's and entrepreneurs battling wheel-to wheel with fearless teenage rocket pilots. Leading the Expert Series (drivers 30 to 44 years old) is Japanese Racer Toshihio Deki (#80 Juncos Racing Mazda) with two in-class victories and six in-class top-3 finishes. Vancouver's Chris Cumming, the 2008 Expert Series champion and currently 2nd in the Expert class is in training to run the Ironman Canada on August 30 and will miss the Mosport race. Californian Mike Guasch has already clinched the Master Series (drivers 45 and older) championship with six in-class wins driving the #91 JDC Motorsports / Molecule Mazda. His goal, after finishing 11th overall at Trois-Rivi0x00e8res is to go after the 'young guns' and finish as high in the overall standings as possible; he is currently 19th in the overall championship with 159 points.
On-track Star Mazda Championship action at the Mobil 1 Presents the Grand Prix of Mosport begins with a 'promoter's test session' on Thursday, August 27. Official practice includes a morning and afternoon session on Friday, August 28 with qualifying to set the grid for the spectacular Star Mazda standing start scheduled to take place from 9:20 am to 10:05 am Saturday, August 29. The field will get the green starting light at 5:35 pm Saturday evening for a scheduled 45-minute race. The 2009 season wraps up with a final pair of ALMS races; at Road Atlanta on September 25 and at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 10.