Rookie Goring wins first Star Mazda race Round Six of the 2007 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, held Sunday afternoon at the Burke Lakefront Airport circuit in Cleveland, Ohio, was won by Jonathan Goring of Norfolk, CT, driver of the #14 Andersen Racing/Skip Barber Racing Mazda. Goring, the 2006 Skip Barber National Series champion, came into the race 5th in the points, qualified on the outside of the front row and battled for most of the 45-minute race with pole-sitter leader Dane Cameron of Sonoma, California.
Cameron led the first half of the race until deteriorating tires slowed his pace and Goring slipped by him on the second of two yellow-flag re-starts. Cameron finished 2nd in his #19 JDC Motorsports/Finlay Motorsports Mazda, and retains his lead in the championship. Finishing 3rd in the #35 AIM Autosport Mazda is the series’ lone female driver, Natacha Gachnang of St. Gingolph, Switzerland, who also scored a podium finish at Round Five in Portland.
“It was an exciting race for me because I knew from the start that I had a car capable of winning the race,” said Goring, who won four races on his way to the 2006 Skip Barber championship. “I was careful in the first turn and got through with no problems, after which Dane was leading until the half-way point when I was able to close on him a bit. Then came the first of two full-course yellows and I couldn’t get past him on the first one, but got by on the second. This is my first win in the Star Mazda championship and I’d really like to thank my team, sponsors and Skip Barber for all their support.”
This weekend marked the Star Mazda series’ first visit to the 2.106-mile Burke Lake Airport circuit. For championship points leader Dane Cameron, however, it was a return to the track where he won from the pole last year in the Formula Ford 2000 series on his way to second place in the championship and ‘Rookie of the Year.’ His Star Mazda record so far in 2007 includes three poles, two wins, one 2nd-place finish and two 4th-place finishes. He came into the weekend leading the championship battle by 12 points and extended that lead with his 2nd-place finish today.
The new points totals reflecting the results of the Cleveland race will be announced later this week after a review of event videotapes.
“It all came down to tires for me; I tried to save them as much as possible in qualifying so they would last the race, but we came up just a bit short on rubber,” said Cameron, who also set the fastest lap of the race. “There was a bit of confusion with second of the two full-course yellows and I wasn’t able to get my tires scrubbed properly for the re-start so I had no grip going into the first turn. That’s where Jonathan got me and it took so long for the tires to come back in that I just couldn’t catch him. Still, we pretty much dominated the weekend with fastest in every session, the pole and extending our points lead, so I’m reasonably happy.”
In Round Five at Portland, Gachnang became the first female driver to finish on the podium (a 2nd-place finish) in the modern history of the Star Mazda championship. Only one other female driver, Lynx Racing driver Sara Senske, ever scored a podium finish -- ten years ago on the short oval at Irwindale, CA in the previous-generation, tube-frame Mazda race car. Gachnang’s 3rd-place finish this afternoon secures her place in the history books as the only female driver to score back-to-back podium finishes in the Star Mazda championship.
“Qualifying was hard because I had to serve a 10-minute penalty for something that happened yesterday and as soon as I went out on course there was a red flag, so I only had about four laps to try and set a time,” said Gachnang. “I got an OK start in the race from 10th on the grid and was able to pass a few people, but it was the re-start that really helped me. I scrubbed my tires really well and went to the inside when the green came out, which was the right decision because I moved immediately up to third place and held it until the end. This is very tight, competitive racing, and I’m happy to be with such a good team.”
Rounding out the top-5 were Tyson Sy of Manila, Philippines, in the #68 Team G.FRO/Popsy Mazda and Eric Freiberg of Homer Glen, Illinois, in the #3 Northwest Autosport/CDE Collision Damage Experts Mazda.
Cleveland was the sixth round of the 12-race 2007 Star Mazda Championship schedule and will be broadcast on the SPEED Channel Monday, July 9 at 3:00 pm (ET), with a re-broadcast on Thursday, July 12 at 4:00 am (ET). The next event on the schedule, also with Champ Car, is at the Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto, July 6 – 8.