Di Leo wins provisional Star Mazda pole
Under cold, grey, rainy skies that turned the Portland International Raceway track into a skating rink during 45-minute Star Mazda Championship qualifying, Canadian racer Marco Di Leo put his #21 Maxwell Paper Products Mazda on the pole with a lap of 1:09.594 (101.595 mph).
Toronto native Di Leo is currently third in the championship points battle and will start from the inside of the front row for this afternoon’s 1-hour Star Mazda Championship race, which is scheduled to take the green flag at 5:00 pm.
“The team really nailed the setup and we knew that would be key to qualifying, particularly under these conditions,” said Di Leo. “We made a setup change during the session and it really hooked the car up. I’m not sure if the weather helped or hurt us, but I do know that my lap when the final red flag came out was 5/10ths faster than my pole lap, so I know we’ve got a good car for the race.”
Holding the pole position until on-course contact forced him into the pits for repairs was current championship points leader Dane Cameron. Although he spent a good portion of the session having his car worked on, Cameron’s early lap of 1:09.922 (101.118 mph) held up for a second-place starting spot on the outside of the front row.
“It was actually the guy who sold us my race car that came across and hit me, but he couldn’t see me and it was just one of those things,” said the 18-year old series rookie from Sonoma, CA. “We got the car fixed but trying to re-align the front suspension in the pits left the handling a bit off, and then the last ten minutes of the session were red-flagged, so I didn’t get a chance to improve. On the up side, if we wind up racing on dry tires this afternoon, I’ll have a real advantage because my set are only one lap from new.”
Lining up third on the grid will be Jonny Baker of Farham Common, UK who turned a lap of 1:09.928 in his #6 Andersen Racing Mazda. Rounding out the top five are Santa Clara, CA driver Ron White in his #69 Team G.Fro / Wunder-bar Mazda with a lap of 1:10.056 (100.925 mph) and Jonathan Goring of Norfolk, CT, who drove his #14 Andersen Racing/Skip Barber Racing Mazda to a lap of 1:10.111 (100.846 mph).