Christodoulou on pole for Star Mazda at VIR The name at the top of the qualifying sheet was the same as the previous five practice sessions -- and it was the expected, thoroughly-smashed track record – but the rest of the names, and the small gaps between lap times, were more of a surprise.
First, the expected. English racer Adam Christodoulou took the pole position for Round 2 of the 2009 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at VIR with a record lap of 1:45.868 (111.195 mph) in the #11 JDC Motorsports Mazda. And this time, his breaking of the Star Mazda VIR track record, a 1:47.607 set in 2007 by James Davison, was official.
"It's quite warm already this morning, but we made a few sets of changes to the car last night and they worked in finding a little bit more time," said Christodoulou, who started from the outside of the front row and went on to win the Star Mazda season opener at Sebring. "But it seems everyone else found a little bit more time we did, so it's a little bit closer than I expected it to be after yesterday's performance. Still I just plan on taking it and making it into a win. There's not as much wind down the back straight today as there was yesterday, so we aren't hitting quite as high a speeds as we did yesterday, but the track conditions around the corners are good; there seems to be a little bit more grip today, so I think if it's like that for the race and not unpredictable, then we should be pretty sorted. I've got to concentrate on getting a decent start; I got a really good start at Sebring and as long as I do the same here and lead into the first corner I think I can stay ahead of everyone for the rest of the race."
But back to track records; in fact, the top 14 cars all posted times under the record. All the cars in the Star Mazda Championship received an upgrade package of aerodynamic, suspension and engine enhancements prior to the start of the season at Sebring, so the faster times are not unexpected.
Setting the second-fastest time was Peter Dempsey, who earned the nickname 'the Irish Steamroller' last season for four victories, three of them in a row. He turned a lap of 1:45.997 (111.060 mph) in the #3 AIM Autosport / Motorsport Ireland / Queyside.ie Mazda, followed by Brazilian Denis Navarro with a time of 1:46.272 (110.772 mph) in the #21 Andersen Racing / Navarro Medicines Distribution / Allied Interior Products Mazda. Rounding out the top-5 were Quebec racer Mikael Grenier in his first-ever Star Mazda Championship drive, turning a lap of 1:46.415 (110.624 mph) in the #17 Andersen Racing / NAPA Auto Parts / CAA-Quebec / HS Telecom Mazda, and Louisiana native Alex Ardoin, turning a 1:46.427 (110.661 mph) in the #51 JDC Motorsports / Oral & Facial Surgery Center Mazda.
In the Expert (ages 30 – 44) and Master (45 and older) Series, the two top drivers are the same as in practice, but they've changed places on the grid. The quicker of the two was Master Series racer Michael Guasch from California. He captured the 16th spot on the starting grid with a lap of 1:47.652 (109.352 mph) in his #91 JDC Motorsports / Molecule Mazda. Starting from the 20th spot on the 28-car grid will be 2008 Expert Series champion Chris Cumming of Vancouver; he turned a lap of 1:48.048 (108.952 mph) in his #16 Kester Racing Team 3G / Texas World Speedway / Motul Oil Mazda. Both drivers won their respective class in the Star Mazda Championship season-opener at Sebring.
Round Two of the 2009 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear is scheduled to take the green flag at 1:00 pm Sunday, April 26.
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