Vautier Victorious in Star Mazda
Frenchman Tristan Vautier claimed his second victory of the 2010 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear driving the #38 Andersen Racing / Moulin TP / Cecibon / Circuit du Laquais Mazda in Round 3 of the VISITFLORIDA Cup at New Jersey Raceway Park. Starting from the outside of the second row, he took the lead from pole-sitter Conor Daly's #22 Juncos Racing / INDECK / The College Network / Merchant Services Ltd. Mazda on the opening lap and led all the way to the checkered. Finishing 2nd - his third podium of the season -- after starting 8th in the #18 Team Apex / Wabash Capital Investments Mazda was Brazilian Joao Victory Horto. Rounding out the top-3 was Norwegian racer Anders 'The Viking' Krohn, scoring his third podium of the season in the #47 Andersen Racing / Norse Cutting & Abandonment / Trallfa / Colosseum Mazda. Krohn was holding tight to second place until the final lap when his gearbox stuck in 6th and Horto was able to pass.
"It’s the end of a long nightmare for me and the Andersen Racing team with a win in the first race and then so much bad luck in one race after another," says the young driver from Grenoble, France who won the season-opener at Sebring. "I was able to make a four second gap over Conor by about halfway, but then his tires went off toward the end and I finished seven seconds ahead of Joao. I has so much emotion crossing the finish line that I almost broke my steering wheel because I was so happy. The Andersen Racing team has worked so hard for this, and all my sponsors who helped make it happen. And to hold this VISITFLORIDA trophy again makes me feel like we have turned a corner and we can show what a good team we are during the rest of the season."
In the Expert Series (drivers aged 30-44) Californian Patrick O'Neill crossed the finish line first in class and 15th overall in the #64 JDC Motorsports / O'Neill Construction Mazda. Leading the Master Series (driver 44 and older) was Puerto Rico native Carlos Conde with an 18th-place finish in his #31 Team GDT / Pronto-GMT / Olympus Securities Mazda. This is the second in-class victory for both O'Neill and Conde, both of whom won their respective classes in Round 2 at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Rounding out the top-5 was Horto's Team Apex teammate, Venezuelan racer Jorge Goncalves in the #9 Team Apex / Wabash Capital Investments Mazda. Brazilian Caio Lara, winner of yesterday's Race 1 / Round 6, brought his #19 JDC Motorsports / MLD / ATW Mazda home in 6th. MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder scholarship winner (and 2009 Skip Barber Pro Series Champion) Connor De Phillippi, finished 8th in the #11 JDC Motorsports / MAZDASPEED Motorsports / Skip Barber Mazda. The lone female racer in the field, Colombian Tatiana Calderon, matched her best finish so far this year, scoring a 9th-place finish in the #25 Juncos Racing / Kia Motors Mazda. Another drive of note came from Ohio native Larry Pegram, a top rider in the AMA SuperBike class making his first-ever start in a Star Mazda Championship race. After qualifying 21st in the #72 AIM Autosport / Tampa Bay Jaw Surgery / Foremost Insurance Mazda, he moved up to finish 16th overall.
The hard luck award of the day goes to Quebec racer Mikael Grenier who qualified 3rd in the #17 Andersen Racing / Slow Cow / April Super Flow / NAPA Auto Parts / HS Telecom / Desharnais Mazda, but finished 21st, four laps down.
||Connor De Phillippi
All the racing action this weekend at New Jersey Motorsports Park, including the Star Mazda Championship, the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda and Mazda MX-5 Cup was broadcast live on HDnet as part of the VISITFLORIDA Cup. In addition to the live broadcast, one of the Star Mazda Championship races will be cable syndicated across the USA, Canada and worldwide and aired in the next few weeks.