Toronto: Kyle Marcelli race report

BUSY START TO THE SUMMER FOR KYLE MARCELLI - FORDS & MAZDAS, TESTING & RACING BARRIE, ON (July 10, 2007) - 17 year-old Kyle Marcelli has had a busy start to his summer as he continued to impress in the Ontario Formula Ford Championship and...


BARRIE, ON (July 10, 2007) - 17 year-old Kyle Marcelli has had a busy start to his summer as he continued to impress in the Ontario Formula Ford Championship and started the next phase of his development by testing and racing a Star Mazda series car at the prestigious Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto.

Canada Day Weekend - BARC Grand Prix of Ontario - Mosport International Raceway - Rounds 5 & 6 of the OFFC Championship

Marcelli had an up and down weekend in his second visit to the famed Mosport Raceway. In testing Friday, Marcelli's confidence continues to grow as the car was planted and he was able to drive much harder than in his first visit to the track, setting the stage for some quick times on Saturday.

Marcelli would put his stamp on the weekend early, grabbing the pole position for race one later that afternoon and setting a new track record in the process.

At the drop of the green flag Marcelli worked on building a gap over his competitors as they battled for 2nd & 3rd. At about the 7th lap the car began to get loose through corners 3, 8 and 9. Marcelli pressed hard and made an error in corner 3, allowing the car to run wide, dropping two wheels and ending up sliding into the tire wall, ending his race.

"I felt bad crashing the car while in the lead, but it did allow me to better understand how important it is to adapt your driving to the changing conditions of the track and car," said Marcelli after the race. "I always try and go as fast as I can and it helped me learn where the limits really are and how to get there without stepping over it. The car was fast and I am excited about the race tomorrow."

Kyle put the events of Saturday behind him and hit the track with his repaired Van Diemen for qualifying Sunday morning. Records continued to falll on Sunday as Kyle improved his time by 3 tenths over Saturday, only to be eclipsed by the experienced Matt White, setting the stage for and epic battle later that afternoon.

In a thrilling race, the leaders were in a tight pack and passed each other back and forth, sometimes three wide and breaking the race lap record an incredible seven times between them. Marcelli did grab the lead early from White but was out-horsepowered down the back straight as both the 2nd and 3rd place cars motored by. Settling onto 4th for a while, Marcelli waitied until late in the going to charge back to finish 2nd.

"That was a great race," said the young Marcelli. "It went back and forth all day long. Adam (Pitts) and Brian (Graham) worked so hard to fix the car and put an amazing setup on it. I can't thank them enough for all of their hard work as I try and win this Championship," he added.

"Overall it was definitely a character building weekend for me as each time I get into the seat of the car I learn something new. I am still a close 2nd in the points and will go back to the shop and get ready for the next event at Calabogie. 23 turns sounds pretty cool to me so I am looking forward to putting on a good show there.

July 6, 7 - Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto - CNE Grounds, Exhibition Place, Toronto, Ontario

Immediately following the BARC Grand Prix of Ontario Marcelli and Graham headed to Beaver Run, Pennsylvania for his first taste of Star Mazda - a real wings-and-slicks formula car and the next step for young drivers looking to progress up the ladder to professional racing.

The John Walko Racing Team were well prepared and Marcelli quickly got himself acclimated to the increased power, braking and downforce. He posted quick laps on his first day and after a night to think about it, came back to the track the next day and set times that impressed crew chief and mentor Brian Graham.

"He was like a duck to water with this car," said Graham. "We came down here with no real expectations, just to get Kyle some seat time but he adapts so quickly I am actually pretty excited about what he may be able to do in his first race this weekend in Toronto," he added.

Marcelli and Graham rolled onto the Exhibition Grounds on Thursday to have a proper seat made and have a first look at the challenging street course. While Kyle was testing at Beaver Run his father Tony was busy putting some final sponsorship programs in place in order to finance his debut at this level. Marcelli is one of the few drivers at this level that relies almost solely on sponsorships to further his career, so the support from companies including Lafarge, Donnybrook, Re/Max Keswick, MG Homes, Trudel & Son's roofing, NBX Action Sports and Brian Graham Racing was crucial. It should also be noted that the owner of the car and Kyle's teammate in the Formula Ford Championship, Greg Beresford, was an integral part of making this possible - it would not have happened without him.

Marcelli looked comfortable one the streets of Toronto during the entire practice session, posting times in the top ten and much quicker than some experienced drivers. Qualifying was another great experience as he posted the 9th fastest time, an unbelievable feat for a young driver stepping into a new car and series half-way through the season.

"I have to thank John Walko and my mechanic Jansen for providing me with a great car," said Marcelli after qualifying. "I had a bit of and understeer in corner 6 but everywhere else it was quite balanced which gave me a lot of confidence flying around the challenging street circuit of Toronto."

The green flag dropped over the 23 cars on Saturday afternoon and Marcelli made quick work of several of the cars ahead of him, ending up in 6th place in the early going. Marcelli was in a tight pack that included the top 7 cars, and could taste a podium in just his first attempt. That would be short-lived however as he was punted from behind in corner 3, at the end of the lakeshore straight and turned around completely. Sitting there, waiting for the field to go by Marcelli would drop to last place.

He then put in a real charge back to 8th, making some incredible passes along the way. Exuberance would take over however, and Marcelli made an aggressive pass for 7th on a bumpy portion of corner 8 and ran wide, spinning.

He would gather it all back up and come home a respectable 11th overall, impressing the fans, his team and sponsors in attendance.

"Toronto was a great learning experiance for me," said Marcelli following the race. "To be thrown into the car for one day on the Tuesday previous to the event and then from there right into the Grand Prix of Toronto was definitely a bit of a jump coming from only 3 weekends racing experience in a Formula Ford.but I was up for the challenge."

"The Mazda Series this year is a really ultra-competitive, anyone of the top ten drivers are capable of winning the race. Our goal heading into the event was first and foremost to bring the car home in one piece and in doing that shoot for a top ten. I can't wait to race in this series next year for sure, but if we can find some more money I would like to do a couple more races this season as well."

Next up for Marcelli is the Ted Powell Memorial trophy weekend, July 27-29, at the new Calabogie Track, located just outside of Ottawa. Marcelli currently sits 2nd in Championship points and leads the Rookie of the Year standings.

-credit: km/js

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Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Brian Graham , Kyle Marcelli