TEMPEST IN TROIS-RIVI0x00c8RES -- THIS WEEKEND'S STAR MAZDA RACE AT THE 41st ANNUAL GP3R FEATURES 20 CARS, AN F1-STYLE STANDING START AND A RISING STAR FROM QUEBEC The hot young drivers of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear will...
TEMPEST IN TROIS-RIVI0x00c8RES -- THIS WEEKEND'S STAR MAZDA RACE AT THE 41st ANNUAL GP3R FEATURES 20 CARS, AN F1-STYLE STANDING START AND A RISING STAR FROM QUEBEC
The hot young drivers of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear will descend on Trois-Rivi0x00e8res this weekend for the 41st annual GP3R at the historic street circuit for Round 10 of the series' 20th anniversary season. And among the top drivers in this year's event is Quebec racer Mikael Grenier, winner - from the pole - of Round 8 of the 2010 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear two weeks ago at the HARRAH'S Autobahn Grand Prix Presented by Mazda. Racing the #17 Andersen Racing / Slow Cow / April Super Flow / NAPA Auto Parts / HS Telecom / Desharnais Mazda, the young hotshoe from Stoneham thus far has scored one win, two poles, three podium finishes, and six top-5s; he is currently 4th in the Star Mazda Championship battle with 289 points.
Grenier is also set to become the official spokesperson for the GP3R for the next two years; the announcement will be made by GP3R General Manager Francois Bordeleau and GP3R President Jo0x00ebl St Pierre at a press conference in Quebec City, on Tuesday morning.
"It is with great honor that I accept the role of representing the Grand Prix because it is a partnership that shows the confidence of the racing industry in my ability to become a professional driver at the top levels," says Grenier, who ran a limited schedule of six Star Mazda Championship races in 2009, scoring two podiums and finishing 4th at Trois-Rivi0x00e8res after a magnificent drive in which he started from the back of the field due to mechanical problems in practice and qualifying.J"I'm very excited to race in front of so many Quebec fans at this legendary event, especially now that I know I have reached the level with the Andersen Racing team where we can win. To go from the open space and fast turns of the Autobahn track to a street circuit lined with concrete walls is a test for any driver, but the fantastic energy of Quebec race fans affects all drivers, no matter what country they are from, and this should be a great race."
The 20+ car field for this weekend's race will also include another young Canadian racer, David Ostella, from Maple, Ontario; this is his second season of Star Mazda competition. He finished 7th in this race in 2009 and scored a 4th-place finish two weeks ago in Round 8 at Autobahn at the wheel of his #16 AIM Autosport / GP Global Precast Mazda. Ostella drives for the only Canadian team in the series, AIM Autosport, located in Woodbridge, Ontario. AIM alumni include such noted Canadian racers as Jean-Francois Dumoulin, Andrew Ranger, Kevin Lacroix and Andrew Bordin.
The driver currently leading the Star Mazda Championship points battle is Conor Daly, the son of racing legend and noted motorsports broadcaster Derek Daly. Now in his second season of Star Mazda racing, he has scored five wins, six poles, and eight podium finishes racing the #22 Juncos Racing / INDECK / The College Network / Merchant Services Ltd. Mazda.JDaly, who just graduated from high school in his home town of Indianapolis, was the 2008 Skip Barber Pro Series champion. He finished 14th, two laps off the pace, in 2009.
Of the drivers in this year's Star Mazda Championship field, none has more to prove than Rusty Mitchell, who qualified on the pole and was leading this event last year until he finished second after a hotly-debated yellow-flag incident in which he was passed for the lead by eventual winner Alex Ardoin. Mitchell, now driving the #66 Juncos Racing / Motorola / Petro Communications / HRP Racing Products / Texas Autosports Mazda, is currently 10th in the points battle with seven top-10 finishes, including 6th in Round 9 at Autobahn.
Other drivers in this year's field with experience on the tight and technical, 2.73-mile, 10-turn GP3R street circuit include Norwegian racer Anders 'The Viking' Krohn (#47 Andersen Racing / Norse Cutting & Abandonment / Trallfa / Colosseum Mazda) who finished 6th in 2009 and is currently 2nd in the 2010 championship; and Brazilian racer Caio Lara, who won at Autobahn three weeks ago but had a dismal race here last year when qualified 11th with an ill-handling car and was taken out on the first lap due to contact with another car. Also on the list of returning drivers are Kevin Toledo from Chile (#21 Linares Racing / THL / Metalujica Chile) and Brazilian Jorge Goncalvez #9 Team Apex / Wabash Capital Investments Mazda).
Other drivers to keep an eye on include Californian Connor De Phillippi, the current MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder scholarship winner and driver of the #11 JDC Motorsports / MAZDASPEED Motorsports / Skip Barber Mazda. He was the 2009 Skip Barber Pro Series champion and is one of three open-wheel 'ladder series' champions in the field, including Chris Miller (#85 JDC Motorsports / Miller Milling / Red Line Oil Mazda) the 2009 Formula 2000 champion, and Carlos Linares (#20 Linares Racing / Instituto Nacional De Deportes Mazda) the Venezuelan Formula 1600 champion.
In addition to young hotshoes from around the globe, the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear also features a race-within-a-race for drivers in the Expert (ages 30-44) and Master (45 and older) Series.JLast year's Expert Series winner, Texan J.W. Roberts, won his class at the 40th annual GP3R and has continued his winning ways; he is the leading the Expert Series with six in-class wins so far this season driving the #65 Team GDT / General Data Tech Mazda. The top Master Series driver, though he did not race at Trois-Rivieres last year, is Carlos Conde of Puerto Rico. He comes into this weekend leading the Master Series championship battle with four in-class victories.
The single female driver in the field -- Colombian racer Tatiana Calderon -- also bears watching as she seems to have found some sudden form after spending a couple of weeks training with the 'Pit Fit' organization in Indianapolis. Driving the #25 Juncos Racing / JAC Motors Mazda, she ran toward the top of the time sheets in practice for the Autobahn double header, and was on her way to a podium finish until contact with another car put her back to 6th.
On-track activities for Round 10 of the 20th anniversary Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at the 41 annual GP3R begin with a 30- minute practice session from 6:00 pm -- 6:30 pm Friday, August 13.JThe field will be broken into two equal-sized groups for qualifying -- to reduce traffic and give drivers a clear track to qualify. The session is scheduled to start at 2:35 pm, Friday, August 14. There will be a 15-minute warm-up session starting at 9:15 am Sunday, August 15, with the field scheduled to take the green light for the traditional F1-style standing start at 1:00 pm. The race is scheduled for 45 minutes.
This is the first event of a 3-race, back-to-back 'road trip' for drivers and teams in the Star Mazda Championship. Round 11, part of the American Le Mans 'Time Warner Cable Road Race Showcase' weekend will take place on Saturday, August 21, followed by Round 12, also with ALMS, at the MOBIL1 Presents the Grand Prix of Mosport on August 28. The series' finale, the 13th race in an 11-weekend season, is also with ALMS at the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta and will take place October 1.