Connor De Phillippi Wins Star Mazda Pole at Petit Le Mans
In a qualifying session limited to two laps by the simultaneous arrival of rain and a red flag, MAZDASPEED Driver Development Ladder Connor De Phillippi took his first pole of the season by a .488-second margin over series champion Conor Daly. De Phillippi, driving the #11 JDC Motorsports / MAZDASPEED Motorsports / Skip Barber Mazda, set his quick time of 1:20.101 (114.156 mph) on Lap 2, crossing the finish line two seconds ahead of the red flag that, per IMSA regulations, brought timing to a halt and the field into the pits. Starting alongside him will be Conor Daly, series champion with seven wins and nine poles so far this season; he turned a lap of 1:20.589 (113.465 mph) in the #22 Juncos Racing / INDECK / The College Network / Merchant Services Ltd. Mazda.
"The JDC Motorsports team told me before the session that with the rain on the way we would only have one shot at a good time and that meant putting the hammer down on Lap 1," said De Phillippi. "They judged the situation with the rain and the tires perfectly and I'm very happy to be on the pole for the first time, especially in the race that will decide the winner of Rookie of the Year. Being on pole is a huge thing both strategically and mentally for a driver, and we've been fast the last couple of races and in practice leading up to this race, so I'm feeling good about my chances tomorrow."
Starting 3rd will be Brazilian racer Caio Lara, who won his first race at Round 6 and is currently 8th in the championship. He turned a lap of 1:20.878 (113.059 mph) in the #19 JDC Motorsports / MLD / ATW / Sunbol Mazda. Alongside him on the outside of the second row in the 4th starting spot will be Scandinavian racer Anders 'The Viking' Krohn. Currently second in the championship with a series-long string of podium and top-5 finishes, Krohn turned a lap of 1:21.038 (112.836 mph) in his #47 Andersen Racing / Norse Cutting & Abandonment / Trallfa / Colosseum Mazda.
The driver who lost the most in this soggy saga was the one who surprised everyone in practice and very nearly stunned the field by qualifying on the pole in his first-ever Star Mazda start, an Argentine dark horse named Martin Scuncio. A regular in the USF2000 National Championship, he was consistently in the top-3 in practice and was on a flier during qualifying that would have put him on the pole had IMSA not shut off the timing system – as per the rules – as soon as the red flag, caused by a one-car accident in Turn 1, came out. His lap of 1:21.038 (112.836 mph) in the #60 Juncos Racing / Sky Airline Mazda.
In the Master Series (drivers 45 and older), the quick time was turned by West Palm Beach racer Dom Bastien, the CEO of Specialty Brands of America. His lap of 1:27.135 (104.941 mph) in his #37 Andersen Racing Mazda was good for 14th on the grid. Leading the Expert Series starters (drivers 30 – 44) is Texan J.W. Roberts, who has already clinched the Expert Series championship. His lap of 1:28.134 in the #65 Team GDT / General Data Tech Mazda earned him the 15th starting slot.
Also of interest, Larry Pegram, one of the top Superbike racers in the country who is making his third start as a Star Mazda racer in the Expert (drivers aged 30-44) Series this weekend, was the 2nd-quickest Expert in qualifying with a lap of 1:30.211 (101.362 mph) in the #72 AIM Autosport / Tampa Bay Jaw Surgery / Foremost Insurance Mazda. His efforts earned him the 16th starting spot.
Star Mazda Qualifying
||Connor De Phillippi
||Mazdaspeed Motorsports, Skip Barber|
||INDECK, The College Network, Merchant Services Ltd.|
||Norse Cutting and Abandonment, Trallfa Industries, Colosseum|
||Moulin TP, Cecibon, Circuit du Laquais, Fontanel|
||Wabash Capital Investments|
||Petrosur, GFK Motors|
||Motorola, Petro Comm.|
||Wabash Capital Investments, BomBril - Programa LeiLoes|
||Indy 500/ American Icon Team Pelfrey|
||Instituto Nacional De Deportes|
||Andersen Race Park|
||General Data Tech|
||Insurance / Tampa Bay Jaw Surgery|
||Miller Milling, Red Line Oil|
||Tampa Bay Jaw Surgery|
All the Star Mazda race action will be broadcast to more than 150 million homes worldwide, courtesy of VISITFLORIDA, the official tourism and marketing corporation of the state of Florida. Drivers are also competing for the VISITFLORIDA Cup, a 7-race championship-within-a-championship that will award a custom Florida vacation to the driver scoring the most points in those seven races.
The 45-minute round 13 of the 2010 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear will get the green light for the series' traditional and spectacular standing start at 11:55 am Friday, October 1.