Toronto: John Walko Racing race report

Strength in Numbers for JWR at Toronto Kyle Marcelli Joins Team in Star Mazda Debut TRAFFORD, PA (July 11, 2007) -- John Walko Racing returned to a three car effort at Toronto as seventeen year old Barrie, Ontario resident Kyle Marcelli joined...

Strength in Numbers for JWR at Toronto
Kyle Marcelli Joins Team in Star Mazda Debut

TRAFFORD, PA (July 11, 2007) -- John Walko Racing returned to a three car effort at Toronto as seventeen year old Barrie, Ontario resident Kyle Marcelli joined regular drivers Charles Anti and Russell Walker for the seventh round of the Star Mazda Championship Series.

The three car system worked well in 2006 leading JWR to the Team Championship in their inaugural season so the team was excited to welcome the young Canadian to the fold. According to John Walko his latest driver acclimated himself quickly to the team and the new car.

"Kyle did a good job, a solid performance for a first outing in a Star Mazda car. He has a strong background in karts and has done very well in his first season of Formula Ford racing so we were confident that he could make the transition quickly. We tested earlier in the week so he was already fitted for the car and was familiar with the layout and the feel before we unloaded."

Marcelli was in the front half of the field in both practices before landing the tenth quickest qualifying time.

"Each session out Kyle was quicker. He gave good feedback and we were able to make the proper adjustments in turn. Qualifying in the top ten on a tight street circuit with just a very short time in the car is impressive.

Once the green flag flew the young Canadian was even more impressive slicing his way through the field on the opening lap to move in to fifth. He settled in to sixth eventually, running with the leaders early in the race.

"In the race Kyle had a great start and was running with the lead draft. Things stacked up in front of him though and he ended up being hit by another competitor from behind and was turned around."

Marcelli was able to move through the field to earn an eleventh place finish.

"It was a good weekend for Kyle and for JWR. I want to thank Brian Graham Racing. Brian brought us Kyle, who was great to work with. We also have other working relationships with Brian's team throughout this season and they have been excellent to work with."

Anti turned out to be the team's fast qualifier after a tenuous start to the weekend. At a test earlier in the week the car caught fire causing some significant damage. The team was able to turn the car around in time to leave for Toronto but unfortunately there was no time left for any shakedown runs to make sure everything was in working order.

"Charles struggled the first two sessions as we worked through some bugs from a testing mishap last week. It slowed things a little but he actually thought the car was good. Qualifying showed that he was right as he ended up ninth quick."

Shortly after the start of the race Anti began to pick up positions and advance toward the front showing the speed he expected to have going in to the race.

"Charles looked very racy again this weekend, picking up right where he left off at Cleveland. He had been on the move but unfortunately was caught up in another driver's accident that happened right in front of him. Charles was headed for a solid top five, possibly a podium, had there been another inch or two of space. He looked really good."

At the end of the event Walker proved to have the right combination of patience, speed and good fortune to score the best overall finish for JWR. The strong top ten was an indication of the maturity Walker has been demonstrating.

"Russell was a little tentative to start but consistently improved throughout the weekend. Once the race started he kept his nose clean, avoided all the crashes and ended up laying down the fourth fastest lap of the race. He got the most out of the car moving from fifteenth to fifth, ending up sixth at the line. He drove a very smart race.

The team has several tests scheduled in the coming weeks including session at Road Atlanta and BeaveRun before returning to racing action at Road America on August 11th.

"We've always had good set-ups at Road America so I'm looking forward to heading there. We are working hard on running the third car there as well which is always a benefit for the team on the whole as we share feedback, data and set-ups."

Team Quotes

Charles Anti: "The test earlier in the week went really well but ended with a fire unfortunately. Caleb worked non-stop to have the car ready for Toronto but there were still a few issues to work through. By qualifying though the car was great and it carried through to the race. I was caught up in another driver's accident though in the race ending our run too early. Considering how little time we had on Friday and how fast we were on Saturday, my confidence is up and I think we have some momentum heading to the upcoming races."

Steve Dreizler, Engineer for Charles Anti: "We had some residual issues with the damage from the testing fire earlier in the week which cost us some valuable track time. Neither session on Friday was an indication of his potential. I was proud of how he kept himself focused on the things he could do and making the most of the sessions. In qualifying everything was back to normal and the times showed right away. He was moving forward in the race and would have had a good result had he not just been in the wrong place at just the right time."

Russell Walker: "The weekend ended well but it was a bit of a struggle up until the race. The car seemed good but I just didn't have the lap times to show. Scott gave me a good car and Eric worked hard to get everything out of the package from the data and feedback. The car was very good in the race; I had to stay patient working through the pack and avoiding the crashes but once there was some open track I ran the fourth fastest lap of the race."

Eric Langbein, Engineer for Russell Walker: "Russell had a solid weekend in the end. We started off a little slower than usual and tried a number of different approaches until we hit on a good combination. By the time the race started Russell had a fast car and drove it toward the front. This weekend's finish is another indication of Russell's continuing maturity as a race car drive. Hard work and smart driving paid off in the end."

Kyle Marcelli: "It was a great weekend, great experience. The car was awesome, I really enjoyed it. I want to get back and spend some more time with the team this year. Our goal going in to the race was to run in the top ten. We qualified ninth and had been running as high as sixth before being punted under braking. I was able to keep the car off the walls though and work back to eleventh. The result didn't show what we were capable of but I'm happy, it was a great learning experience - going over the data, watching the video, giving feedback to John. Every change we made was a step in the right direction. Leaving the weekend I have a lot of confidence in myself and the team and look forward to jumping back in the car and running in the top five for sure."

John Walko, Engineer for Kyle Marcelli: "Kyle methodically got quicker as the weekend went on. He was conservative by design at the start as this was his first street race in a car. In the second session we tried some different set-ups, found a good direction and went out and qualified in the top ten. In the race he had a great start but eventually was hit by another competitor and spun. He kept the car off the wall though and worked hard to get back toward the front. Kyle was great to work with, hopefully this is just the first time we have a chance to race with him this year."

-credit: jwr

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About this article
Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Brian Graham , Russell Walker , Charles Anti , Eric Lang , Kyle Marcelli