Jan 30

Star Mazda: Christodoulou quickest on day one at Sebring

Reigning British Formula Renault Champion Adam Christodoulou topped the time sheets

The many of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear drivers and teams for 2009 are currently in Florida taking part in official testing at Sebring International Raceway, as part of IMSA’s “Spring Training”.

Amid a field of 21 cars piloted by faces both familiar and fresh, it was a newcomer with a distinctive moniker who set the fast time in both sessions of the first official series test day.

Driving the No. 21 car for Andersen Racing, Adam Christodoulou, winner of the 2008 British Formula Renault championship, set a fast time of 2:00.945 (110.133 mph) in the first of two one-hour sessions held on Tuesday (January 27th) afternoon.

(Photo: Star Mazda Championship – Peter Fry)

In the later session, from 4:30 to 5:30 pm, with temperatures lower and the wind picking up, some cars were slower, some faster, but Christodoulou again put in the fastest lap, albeit slightly slower, crossing the stripe in of 2:01.372 (109.745 mph).

The Star Mazda Championship track record at Sebring International Raceway is held by 2007 series champion Dane Cameron with a 1:59.986.

Times are a bit off this time in this first test because all of the teams are still working to install, and discover the optimum settings for, the upgrade package of aero, suspension and engine pieces that the Star Mazda Championship has made available for 2009.

Second fastest on day one was second-year driver Caio Lara, at the wheel of the No. 19 JDC Motorsports Mazda, with a second-session lap of 2:01.644 (109.500 mph), a dramatic improvement over his fifth quickest lap of 2:04.135 (107.303 mph) in the first session.

Lara finished eight in the 2008 Star Mazda Championship standings, his best finishes a pair of fifth places in the final two races.

Third quickest at the end of the action was Joel Miller, who won the 2008 Star Mazda Championship season-opener at Sebring on his way to second place in the championship with a record of one win, two poles, seven podiums and two top-five finishes.

Although his 2009 plans are still pending, he was once again at the wheel of his familiar No. 20 JDC Motorsports Mazda when he turned a lap of 2:01.775 (109.382 mph) in the second session.

Unsurprisingly, given his pedigree and past success, among the front runners was Conor Daly, son of racing legend Derek Daly. The talented young driver turned a lap of 2:02.134 (109.061 mph) in the No. 5 Andersen Racing entry.

Daly, the 2008 Skip Barber National Championship winner with five victories, will race this season with sponsorship from the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder, the same unique ladder program that provided funding for Joel Miller, who moved up to the Star Mazda Championship after winning 2007 Skip Barber Championship.

Rounding out the top-five on the first-day time sheets, was Jorge Goncalvez, a Venezuelan racer moving up from Formula BMW. Driving the No. 7 AIM Autosport Mazda that American John Edwards drove to the 2008 Star Mazda Championship, Goncalvez turned a second-session lap of 2:02.340 (108.877 mph).

Other notables in the field include Alex Ardoin, a former Star Mazda race winner who finished fourth in the 2008 championship. Helping Team GDT and Expert Series veteran J.W. Roberts develop their new car, he turned the sixth-fastest lap of the day at 2:02.709 (108.549 mph).

Gerry Kraut, the runner-up up in the 2008 Star Mazda Master Series, for drivers 45 and older, was seventh fastest with a lap of 2:03.085 (108.218 mph) in his JDC MotorSports No. 55 entry.

The significance of these lap times, and the order in which they appear, will become more apparent during day two of the Star Mazda Championship pre-season test at Sebring.

During day one, some of the teams had fully-updated cars that they were still in the process of sorting, while others ran a mix of new and old parts in an effort to quantify the changeover and test new drivers.

All the cars however are running new ECU mapping, with provides an additional 300 rpm (up to a redline of 8,600 rpm).

The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear 2009 season consists of 13 races on 11 weekends, beginning with its traditional date at the 57th annual Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring on March 2nd.

The most substantial change to the schedule involves the series’ return to ovals for the first time since 2006, with 100-lap events immediately before the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at the Milwaukee Mile on June 20th and under the lights with ARCA at the 7/8-ths mile Iowa Speedway tri-oval on July 10th.

The schedule also includes doubleheaders at New Jersey Motorsports Park on June 13-14, and a new addition to the schedule, the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois on July 25-26.

Both will be MAZDASPEED Motorsports weekends at which the Star Mazda Championship will be a featured race. The 2009 season winds up at the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 10th.

source: eformulacarnews.com