Hawksworth and De Phillippi trade fast laps in Barber practice

BACK AND FORTH BATTLE BETWEEN HAWKSWORTH AND DE PHILLIPPI CONTINUES IN THURSDAY'S TWO STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP PRACTICE SESSIONS AT THE INDY GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA

Barber Motorsports Park / March 29, 2012 - The first two Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear practice sessions on Thursday presented a replay of the battle between Connor De Phillippi and Jack Hawksworth that defined the season-opener at last weekend's Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.  De Phillippi won Race 1 of the weekend's double-header, while Hawksworth won Race 2.  Both won from the pole.

In the first of today's two Star Mazda practice sessions, Hawksworth set the pace with a lap of 1:20.616 in his #82 Team Pelfrey / TORGOEN Swiss Watches / EXA Networks Mazda, better than the existing lap record of 1:21.166 set by series champion Tristan Vautier in 20111, and a good bit quicker than his own best lap of 1:21.043 here in series Spring Training two weeks ago -- but still well shy of the blistering 1:20.076 set by De Phillippi in Spring Training.  De Phillippi was quickest in today's second, altogether slower session with a 1:21.067 in the #2 Juncos Racing / ModSpace Racing / One24 Mazda.

Rounding out the top-5 in both sessions were the 'usual suspects' from St. Pete; in Session 1 it was Petri Suvanto (podium in Race 2 at St. Pete) 2nd-quick in the #81 Team Pelfrey / Mazda Road to Indy Mazda / RKM Building Mazda, followed by De Phillippi, Gustavo Menezes (#83 Team Pelfrey / TrueCar.com Mazda) and Martin Scuncio (#22 Juncos Racing / Pullman Bus Mazda). 

In Session 2, Gabby Chaves, who finished on the podium in Race1 at St. Pete driving his #19 JDC Motorsports / OMP Mazda turned the 2nd-quick time, followed by Scuncio, Juan Piedrahita (#9 JDC Motorsports / Petrosur / GFK Motors Mazda), who scored a podium finish in Race 2 at St. Pete and Sage Karam (#88 Andretti Autosport / Comfort Revolution Mazda), who endured a horrible season-opener and is due to show some form here at Barber.

Qualifying for Race 1 takes place 1:45--2:15 pm Friday, March 30, followed by Race 1 from 4:45-5:25 that evening.  There will be no on-track Star Mazda activity Saturday, March 31.  Race 2 is scheduled to take the green light for the series' traditional - and always exciting - F1-style standing start at 10:20 am Sunday, April 1.  Star Mazda races will be broadcast on Velocity TV and ESPN International; for air dates and times, go to www.StarMazda.com and click the Star Mazda TV icon.