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Vautier and Karam quick in Star Mazda Mosport testing
Tristan Vautier
It hot and cold (relatively speaking) that told the tale of today's Star Mazda Championship test sessions at Mosport International Raceway.  During the course of three test sessions on a miserably hot and humid day, it was French racer and current points leader Tristan Vautier who set the quick time of the day, a 1:16.070 in his #5 JDC Motorsports / Cecibon / Circuit du Laquais Mazda, during the relative cool of the morning.

"There was no change of balance in the car between the morning and afternoon sessions, just a decrease in the overall level of grip," says Vautier, who won Round 2 at Barber Motorsports Park and has led the championship chase ever since.  "Since our race on Sunday is so early in the morning, I think we have a good setup and are in good position for the weekend.  Our goal is to be at the top of every session because where you qualify will be important in the race."

Sage Karam
But when it got hot, the hot got going and Sage Karam, the 2010 USF2000 champion and Mazda Road to Indy Scholarship driver who won the last two races in a row (on the ovals at Milwaukee and Iowa), turned the quick times in the heat of the day.  In the mid-day session #2 he drove his #88 Andretti Autosport / MAZDASPEED / Comfort Revolution Mazda to a 1:16.873 and in the late afternoon he turned a lap almost 4/10ths quicker at 1:16.492.  The Star Mazda lap record for Mosport, a 1:14.169, was set by Adrian Carrio in 2006 under decidedly more favorable weather conditions.  Quickest of the Expert Series (for drivers 30 years and older) was Texan J.W. Roberts, the 2010 Star Mazda Expert Series champion, with a lap of 1:21.524 in his #65 Team GDT / General Data Tech Mazda, a time set during the final session of the day.

The remainder of the top-5, and the top-10 for that matter, was a case of 'the usual suspects' trading places on the time sheet with few surprises.  In the final session, the order was Martin Scuncio in 2nd with a 1:17.258 in his #60 Juncos Racing / Bia Comunicaciones / Cable Del Pacifico Mazda; Nick Andries in 3rd with a 1:17.258 in the #81 Team Pelfrey / Lithionics Battery / GS610 Brake Fluid / Trademark Garage Floors Mazda; Gustavo Menezes in 4th with a 1:17.508 in the #28 Juncos Racing / Truecar / Safety Park Mazda; and Vautier 5th quick with a 1:17.824. 

If there are surprises here, they are the 8/10ths of a second gap between Karam and Scuncio and the pace of Brazilian newcomer Joao Jardim, who seems to be finding his footing with the JDC Motorsports team with a 6th-quick time of 1:18.382.  And perhaps an unpleasant surprise for the JDC team who had two cars go off in Turn 3, Jardim and, more seriously, Vautier, whose car will need a new nose, new left-front corner and other assorted bits.  Vautier's off produced a long yellow toward the end of the session, and after the track went green again and with most of the drivers out on new tires, the final ten minutes saw a mad scramble to try and finish off the day with the top time.

However, since Round 6 of the 2011 Star Mazda Championship will take the green light for the series' traditional standing start at 8 am Sunday morning, perhaps the results of today's morning session are an equally valid indicator.  As mentioned Vautier was quick, with Connor De Phillippi (who, with Karam, is the only other two-race winner so far this year); he turned a 1:16.388 in the Team Pelfrey / Justice Brothers Products / Trademark Garage Floors Mazda.  Third quick was Brazilian racer J.V. Horto with a 1:16.478 in the #18 Juncos Racing / Programa Leilões Mazda and next on the time sheet was Sage Karam with a 1:16.508.  Rounding out the morning's top-5 was California driver Gustavo Menezes, an international karting champion who made the jump directly to Star Mazda, with a 1:16.944.  He and Karam (right) were the only two drivers who figured in the top-5 during all three sessions.

Merge of all three sessions

Pos No. Name Overall BestTime In Session
1 5 Tristan Vautier 1:16.070 Thursday First Test
2 11 Connor De Phillippi 1:16.388 Thursday First Test
3 7 J.V. Horto 1:16.478 Thursday First Test
4 88 Sage Karam 1:16.492 Thursday Final Practice
5 28 Gustavo Menezes 1:16.944 Thursday First Test
6 60 Martin Scuncio 1:16.948 Thursday Second test session
7 81 Nick Andries 1:17.227 Thursday First Test
8 39 Joao Jardim 1:17.404 Thursday Second test session
9 10 Tatiana Calderon 1:17.512 Thursday First Test
10 20 Carlos Linares 1:17.819 Thursday Second test session
11 85 Chris Miller 1:18.475 Thursday First Test
12 48 Patrick McKenna 1:18.794 Thursday Second test session
13 26 Jérimy Daniel 1:20.015 Thursday First Test
14 65 J.W. Roberts 1:21.524 Thursday Final Practice
15 23 Walt Bowlin 1:21.969 Thursday Second test session

Star Mazda Championship action continues tomorrow with the first official practice session taking place 10:45 - 11:30 am.  Qualifying is scheduled from 8:40 - 9:25 am Saturday, July 23.  The 45-minute Round 6 of the 2011 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear will get the green light for the series' traditional and spectacular standing start at 8:00 am Sunday, July 24.  The next event on the schedule is a double-header, Rounds 7 & 8, with Indy Lights, at the GP3R at Trois-Rivières, August 5-7.

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