PHILLIPPI QUICKEST OVERALL IN TWO DAYS OF STAR MAZDA SPRING TRAINING AT BARBER MOTORSPORTS PARK - FIVE DRIVERS, VETERANS AND ROOKIES, UNDER THE OFFICIAL LAP RECORD
The teams and drivers of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear put on another day of unofficial record-smashing during the second of two days of 'spring training' at Barber Motorsports Park. Unofficial because lap records can only be set in qualifying or the race... but impressive nonetheless.
Connor De Phillippi (#2 Juncos Racing / ModSpace Racing / One24), now entering his third season and by far the most experienced driver in the series, was the star of both days, breaking the lap record of 1:21.166 - set last year by eventual series champion Tristan Vautier - yesterday on Lap 20 of Session 1 and then even more thoroughly today on Lap 19 of Session 4 with a best time of 1:20.076.
But he wasn't the only one; there were, in fact, five drivers under the record, including Petri Suvanto, the quickest rookie during both days. The Finnish driver, 2011 USF2000 champion and winner of the Mazda Road to Indy scholarship to race in Star Mazda, turned a quick lap of 1:20.712 in his (#81 Team Pelfrey / Mazda Road to Indy Mazda).
Rounding out the fast-5 were rookie English racer Jack Hawksworth with a 1:21.043 in the (#82 Team Pelfrey / Torogen Watches / EXA Networks Mazda), Argentine veteran Martin Scuncio at 1:21.096 in his #22 Juncos Racing Mazda and Colombian rookie (albeit with both European F3 and GP3 experience) Gabriel 'Gabby' Chaves, who turned a 1:21.117 in the #19 JDC Motorsports / OMP Mazda.
The quick times during both days were, for the most part, set in the cooler morning session, while the slipperier afternoon sessions brought some other interesting names to the fore. 2011 Star Mazda Rookie of the Year Sage Karam was 6th fast overall with a 1:21.264 in Monday's final session driving the #88 Andretti Autosport / Comfort Revolution Mazda. American second-year driver Gustavo Menezes (#83 Team Pelfrey / TrueCar.com Mazda) was 7th with a 1:21.427 in today's first practice, followed by Venezuelan driver Bruno Palli (#15 Juncos Racing / Team Viso Venezuela) who wound up 8th fast overall with a 1:21.887.
Rounding out the top-10 were top Canadian karter Zach Meyer (#66 AIM Autosport / Partners III Mazda) with a 1:22.086 - a tie down to the 1,000ths of a second with 2011 USF2000 standout Zach Veach (#77 Andretti Autosport / Zakoski Data Backup Mazda). The lone female racer in the series, Ashley Freiberg (#91 JDC Motorsports / TrueCar Mazda) wound up 15th fast with a 1:23.091 and the quickest Expert Series (drivers 30 and older) competitor was St. Petersburg dentist Walt Bowlin #23 AIM Autosport / Tampa Bay Jaw Surgery Mazda) with a 1:25.357.
Teams and drivers will head directly to the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg where the first practice session is scheduled for 6:10-6:40 pm Thursday evening.