Pagenaud fastest in morning warm-up
After watching his boss just missing out Saturday on the overall pole position for the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by the Grand and Little America Hotels, Simon Pagenaud put de Ferran Motorsports’ Acura ARX-01b out front in Sunday’s warm-up at Miller Motorsports Park.
Pagenaud, celebrating his 24th birthday today, posted a lap of 1:33.661 (117.154 mph) on his next-to-last lap of the 25-minute session. He is making his Series debut with team owner Gil de Ferran, who is returning to the cockpit after a nearly five-year absence.
De Ferran qualified second for today’s race, just behind Penske Racing’s Timo Bernhard in one of the team’s Porsche RS Spyders.
Sunday morning, Pagenaud was 0.208 seconds in front of Audi Sport North America’s Marco Werner, the fastest of the LMP1 cars. He qualified the No. 2 Audi R10 TDI sixth overall and first in P1. Werner and Lucas Luhr are looking for their third straight overall Series victory and must be having a sense of déjà vu – they started sixth at Long Beach but still managed to take victory.
Next was Penske’s Romain Dumas, Bernhard’s teammate, with the third-fastest lap overall at 1:34.456 (116.168 mph). He was 0.079 seconds ahead of Frank Biela in the second Audi that he will share with Emanuele Pirro.
In GT1, Oliver Gavin’s late flying lap put Corvette Racing’s No. 4 Corvette C6.R on top in class. Gavin posted a lap of 1:44.253 (105.252 mph) in that car that he will pilot with Olivier Beretta, the two looking for a Miller Motorsports Park repeat.
Jan Magnussen’s time in the sister Corvette was 1:44.323 (105.181 mph). He and championship co-leader Johnny O’Connell will drive the No. 3 entry.
Dirk Mueller went quickest in GT2 for Tafel Racing in the team’s Ferrari F430 GT. Driving with Dominik Farnbacher, Mueller turned in a lap of 1:47.891 (101.703 mph), good enough for a 0.687-second advantage over Farnbacher Loles Racing’s Dirk Werner in the team’s Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. He will drive with Marc Basseng.
Third in class was Risi Competizione’s Ferrari F430 GT of Mika Salo and Jaime Melo.
The Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by The Grand and Little America Hotels is set for Sunday, May 18 from Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. The green flag is scheduled for 1 p.m. MT with live television coverage on SPEED. Live radio coverage will be available on XM Satellite Radio Channel 144 and American Le Mans Radio at americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA’s Live Timing & Scoring.
“It was a rough qualifying for us, but we lost a couple of other Expert Series drivers in the first-turn incident and that moved me up the field,” said Fogg. “I had a great car in the race that drove like it was on rails until the last couple of laps, but Goodyear did such a good job with these new radial tires that I was running faster laps in the race than I did in qualifying. I’m happy with the result and happy for the Northwest Autosport team.”
The winner of the Master Series class was Gerry Kraut, driver of the #55 JDC Motorsports/Dougherty & Co./Dougherty Funding Mazda. Kraut is a co-owner of JDC, which won the 2007 Star Mazda Championship with Dane Cameron. He qualified 20th and moved up to finish 17th overall.
“I thought my race wall all over in Turn One when I managed to dodge two spinning cars but then got rammed from behind,” said the North Oaks, Minnesota resident. “One of my rear tires got cut in the incident and the car was bent so bad it was practically going down the track sideways, but the team said ‘keep going’ so I hammered it as hard as I could. This is a really physical track and there’s hardly time to take a breath during the race, but I feel pretty good right now. I’m just sorry that my JDC teammate and fellow Master Series competitor Chuck Hulse had a suspension failure because he had a great race going.”
One of the most impressive, and unfortunately unnoticed, drives of the race was put on by Louisiana native Alex Ardoin, who won the 2007 Star Mazda Championship season-ender at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. He suffered through an on-board fire in the first day of practice, a cracked chassis that necessitated re-building the whole car on the second day, and started the race dead last, in 29th place. Showing that his victory last season was no fluke, Ardoin drove his #51 Mundill / Oral & Facial Surgery Center/Twister Trailer Mazda to a 10th-place finish and 5th-place in the driver championship battle.
Other notable performances included Jonny Baker, who drove for the Andersen Racing team full-time in the Star Mazda series last year and stepped into the #11 Andersen Racing/Allied Mazda at the last minute with no preparation and brought the car home in 12th. Of the two female drivers in the race, Kristy Kester of College Station, Texas fared the best, qualifying 21st in her #48 Kester Racing/Texas World Speedway/Unifirst Mazda and finishing 18th. She is currently 10th in the points championship. Michele Bumgarner of Manila, Philippines, qualified 24th and finished 20th in the #33 John Walko Racing/Spectrum-OSO Asia/Oakley/Philippines Department of Tourism Mazda. Perhaps the most unfortunate outcome of the weekend was that of JDC driver Cody Jolly, a karting champion who came almost directly to his first Star Mazda start via a couple of Skip Barber regional races. In his first drive in a real race car on Goodyear racing slicks, he showed surprising speed in practice only to suffer an electrical engine misfire in qualifying that relegated him to 28th on the grid, putting him in ideal position to be taken out in the first-turn incident.
In the Master Series points battle, JDC teammates Gerry Kraut and Chuck Hulse are tied with 36, while Expert Series winner at Sebring, Chris Cumming, continues to lead with 34 points after a 15th overall, 2nd in class finish at Miller. Andersen Racing is leading the team championship with 64 points, followed by JDC Motorsports in 2nd with 55, World Speed Motorsports in 3rd with 39, Mundill in 4th with 34 and Goshen Motorsports in 5th with 28 points.
All the action of Round Two of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at Miller Motorsports Park can be seen on the SPEED TV broadcast scheduled for Saturday, May 31 and 3:00 pm Eastern.
The next event, Round Three on the 12-race 2008 schedule, will take place June 7 at Watkins Glen International. This will be the Star Mazda Championship’s first visit to this legendary track and will take place during the Grand-Am Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen weekend.