Friday Practice VIR
5 FOR 5 – CHRISTODOULOU MAKES A CLEAN SWEEP OF PRACTICE SESSIONS LEADING UP TO SATURDAY QUALIFYING FOR ROUND 2 OF THE 2009 STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP AT VIR
VIR (April 24, 2009) – It's extremely unusual for a single driver to be the fastest in every session leading up to a race, and Englishman Adam Christodoulou isn't there quite yet – but he's well on his way. Driving the #11 JDC Motorsports Mazda, he has set the fastest time in five straight sessions, three 'promoter test day' sessions on Thursday and two official practice sessions on Friday. All that remains is Saturday morning's qualifying session and Sunday afternoon's race – and while he started from the outside of the front row at Sebring rather than on the pole, he did go on to win the race, so the odds seem stacked in his favor.
His time of 1:46.051 (111.003 mph) in the final session was a thorough, if unofficial, smashing for the track record of 1:47.607, set by James Davison in 2007. It should be noted, however, that by series rules, official lap records can be set only in qualifying or the race. It's also worth noting, however, that the top eight drivers in the final session were all under the record, and the top three are all from the same team, JDC Motorsports, including Americans Joel Miller (#2 JDC Motorsports Mazda / 1:46.689 / 110.339 mph) and Alex Ardoin (#51 JDC Motorsports / Oral & Facial Surgery Center Mazda / 1:46.751 / 110.275 mph). Other drivers unofficially under the record include newcomer Mikael Grenier in his first Star Mazda drive, 'Irish Steamroller' Peter Dempsey who won four Star Mazda races last season, rookie Denis Navarro, MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder scholarship winner Conor Daly and fast-rising Brazilian racer Caio Lara.
"For the last session we had a few sets of changes and as the times have shown, its improved the car yet again," said Christodoulou. "Going through the mid-speed corners now, the car just seems to so hooked up; it goes through turns 5,6 and 7 just beautifully and that's where I found the majority of my time. I broke a few times into the 46's and tried for 45 on my last lap, but just pushed a little too hard at the end of the straight and ran off course. But we've got a little bit of a margin at the moment and as long as it stays that way, I'll be happy."
As he was in the morning session, the quickest Expert Series (ages 30 – 44) driver was 2008 Expert Series champion Chris Cumming of Vancouver, B.C. His lap of 1:48.789 (108.209 mph) was good for 16th-fast in the 28-car field. The quickest Master Series (45 and older) driver was again Michael Guasch, 20th-fast overall with a lap of 1:49.192 (107.810 mph) in his #91 JDC Motorsports / Molecule Mazda. Both drivers won their respective class in the Star Mazda Championship season-opener at Sebring.