Adam Christodoulou Wins Star Mazda Championship
English racer Adam Christodoulou, starting from the outside of the front row in the #11 JDC Motorsports / Molecule / Miller Milling Company / Alpinestars Mazda, won the season finale, the Rookie of the Year award -- and the overall 2009 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear – today at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It was Christodoulou's third victory of the season and earned him a fully-sponsored ride in the 2010 Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda courtesy of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder. He will also collect a check for $100,000 at tonight's Series award ceremonies.
"It's been an up and down year for me and luckily it ended on an awesome high note," said Christodoulou, the 2008 U.K. Formula Renault champion. "It's just unbelievable; you couldn't have written a TV script about what happened this year. My team, JDC Motorsports and my engineer Rick Cameron have done an awesome job helping me learn all the tracks during my first year racing in America. I definitely felt like I had a boulder to roll up the mountain coming into this race; I'd only secured second in the championship, so I knew that I could take a few risks throughout the race and just push as hard as I could. We did some testing here at this track earlier in the week, and we seemed to struggle at the start of the weekend, but it all seemed to pay off in the race. Thanks so much to all the people and sponsors who've helped me, my Engineer Rick Cameron, who has engineered four of the last six Star Mazda champions, and to my teammate Chris Miller and his father; this is actually their car I've been racing this season, they only lent it to me, but it all seems to have worked out as well as possible."
Finishing second, in the #51 JDC Motorsports / Oral & Facial Surgery Center / Twister Trailer Mazda, was Christodoulou's teammate, Alex Ardoin, who won this at the end of his rookie Star Mazda Championship season in 2007. He also won Round 10 earlier this season on the street circuit at Trois Rivières. Finishing third, driving the #27 Mundill / Trallfa / Colosseum Mazda, was Scandinavian racer Anders Krohn, who won earlier this season on the Milwaukee Mile oval.
The other championship that was won in today's race was by Expert Series racer Chris Cumming. Based in Vancouver, B.C., Cumming was the 2009 Expert Series champion and repeated today with a 2nd-in-class, 11th overall finish driving the #16 World Speed Motorsports Mazda. The Expert Series winner in the race was West Coast Star Mazda racer Patrick O'Neill, who finished first in class and 9th overall in his #64 O'Neill Racing/ O'Neill Construction Mazda.
The Master Series for drivers 45 and older was clinched in Round 10 at Trois-Rivieres by California racer Mike Guasch who scored six in-class wins driving the #91 JDC Motorsports / Molecule / MG4 Manufacturing Mazda. Winning the Master Series category in today's race was another California driver, Chuck Hulse, who finished 12th overall in the #12 DF Racing / Silicon Salvage Mazda.
In addition, JDC Motorsports, which fielded cars for the top-2 drivers in today's race, won the Team Championship with 366 points. Andersen Racing finished second, followed by Juncos Racing in third.
While these winners and champions celebrated their accomplishments, the heaviest price paid during the weekend was by Irish racer Peter Dempsey. Winner of 5 races during the season and the pole-sitter for today's race, Dempsey needed to finish only 7th or better to clinch the championship. However, he was outmaneuvered at the start by the JDC teammates of Christodoulou and Ardoin who slipped by into 1st and 2nd. Shuffled back to 3rd before turn two, Dempsey was then hit from behind by the #2 car of Joel Miller entering the Corkscrew, spinning him off-course and dropping him to last place.
Dempsey managed to get back on track and return to the battle, moving quickly up through the field despite aerodynamic and mechanical damage to the front of his #3 Juncos Racing / The Collection / Motorsport Ireland / Queyside.ie Mazda. He was back up to 11th by the mid-point of the race, setting the fastest race lap in the process. He then had multiple contacts with the #66 Mitchell Motorsports / Motorola Mazda of Rusty Mitchell; the resulting damage to his car put him out of the race and he was credited with a 23rd-place finish. Miller and Mitchell finished 17th and 18th, respectively.
In the points championship, Christodoulou finished 1st with 473 points; his season included three wins, two pole positions and six podium finishes. Dempsey was 2nd with 461 points, five wins (he also scored four wins last year) and five starts from the pole. Conor Daly, the 2008 Skip Barber Pro Series Champion who won his 2009 drive in the Star Mazda Championship courtesy of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder finished third, driving the #22 Andersen Racing / College Network / Indeck / Cytomax Mazda to a record of one win, one pole, four podiums and 416 points. Alex Ardoin finished 4th in the championship with 401 points, one win and four podium finishes; he also finished 4th in last year's championship. Joel Miller, who was the MAZDASPEED Ladder driver in 2008, finished 5th with 390 points, three podiums and five top-5 finishes.
Today's 3rd-place finisher, Anders Krohn, finished 6th in the championship with 380 points, one win, one podium, one top-5 and six top-10 finishes. Richard Kent, who won two races this season and won this race from the pole last year, finished 6th in the race and 7th in the championship with 377 points, four poles, and two podiums.
The schedule for the 2010 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, along with other exciting announcements about next season will be made in coming days.