Joao Victor Horto Quick in Star Mazda Thursday Testing

LEADING UP TO 2011 SEASON FINALE AT MAZDA RACEWAY  Juncos Racing driver João Victor Horto, winner of Round 6 at Mosport, was quickest in both Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear promoter test sessions today at Mazda Raceway.  His quickest lap – and everyone's quickest lap for that matter -- came in the afternoon session, a 1:21.198, in the #7 Juncos Racing / Programa Leilões Mazda.Second-quick was Horto's Juncos Racing teammate, Gustavo Menezes, with a 1:21.387 in the #28 Juncos Racing / Truecar /Safety Park Mazda, followed by championship points leader Tristan Vautier with a 1:21.585 in his #5 JDC Motorsports / Cecibon / Circuit du Laquais Mazda.  Rounding out the top-5 were Connor De Phillippi, the only driver standing between Vautier and the championship, with a 1:21.634 in the #11 Team Pelfrey / Justice Brothers Products / Trademark Garage Floors Mazda, and Team GDT driver Patrick McKenna, who has endured a most difficult partial season since his promising 4th-place finish in the season-opener at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.  He turned a 1:21.802 in the #33 Team GDT / Motorsport Ireland / Irish Sports Council / General Data Tech Mazda. 

All of the top-7 drivers on the day were within 1-second of each other in lap times.  The official lap record for a Star Mazda Championship car at Mazda raceway is held by Englishman Richard Kent, a 1:19.935, set in 2008.  Lap records in Star Mazda are counted only in qualifying and the race.The fastest driver in the Expert Series for competitors 30 and older was another Irish racer, Patrick O'Neill, who was 8th-quick in the #64 O'Neill Racing / O'Neill Construction Mazda with a lap of 1:22.505.  This is only his second Star Mazda race of the season, he also competed at the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon, but he won the 2010 West Coast Pro Formula Mazda Championship racing this same car.This is the season finale for the 11-race 2011 season, and while the championship battle is between JDC Motorsports driver Tristan Vautier and Team Pelfrey driver Connor De Phillippi, the remainder of the field are all battling for the race win and the best placing in the championship – a ranking that has both bragging rights and substantial prize money considerations.Wrapping up one of the most competitive seasons in years, the Star Mazda Championship heads to the season finale with three of the four series titles – Series Champion, Expert Series Champion and Team Championship – still up for grabs.