Scuncio on Pole for Season-Opener at St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg, March 26, 2011: Chilean rookie Martin Scuncio won the pole position this morning on the final lap of qualifying, an exciting maneuver that is seemingly becoming a trademark of his; just yesterday, he delivered the fastest lap time of the day on the final lap of the second practice session as well. Though Scuncio's qualifying time of 1:10.921 did not quite break the current track record, it was the quickest lap time of the weekend so far.
"I'm really excited and really happy," said Scuncio. "I am looking forward to the race this afternoon, especially now. The Juncos Racing team did a fantastic job. We are still improving in every session, so that's the best thing of all to me. I'm very happy to be on the pole. I want to thank the Mazda Road to Indy for putting together such a great program. It's really cool to be able to race alongside the IZOD IndyCar Series."
Tatiana Calderon turned out the best qualifying result of her Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear career this morning with a fastest lap time that placed her in a sixth place starting position for this afternoon's race. The 18-year-old Colombian driver was the third overall fastest driver yesterday, and that combined with this morning's qualifying result proves she is ready to conquer the Streets of St. Petersburg.
"This was the best qualifying result I've ever had in the Star Mazda Championship," said Calderon. "I still need some more experience with short qualifying sessions and breaking in new, cold tires, but I'm really happy I'm starting near the top of the grid. Hopefully I can gain some positions in the race this afternoon."
J.V. Horto laid it all down on the track right at the start of his qualifying session, consistently clocking in top-five lap times one after the other. Unfortunately, the promising run didn't last as long as he had hoped; Horto encountered a minor collision with the wall just after he had made his fastest lap time of the session. The Brazilian was sitting in fifth position at the time but was bumped down to eighth after he retired.
"It was great at the start," said Horto. "I think I started to push a little too much near turns six and seven, my favorite part of the track, and I turned a little too early and braked too much and hit the wall. The race is another thing, though, and we can improve there. I'm still starting in the top ten positions, and I know we have a good car, so I'm looking forward to the race. Congratulations to my teammate Martin (Scuncio) for getting the pole."
Teammate and youngest member of the Juncos Racing quartet Gustavo Menezes experienced his first official qualifying session in the Star Mazda Championship today. The 16-year-old was fourth fastest in his session and produced his quickest lap time of the weekend with a lap time of 1:13.249. The combined qualifying session results saw him land a 13th place starting position for his debut formula car race.
"I think today went pretty well, especially for my first time out there," said Menezes. Unfortunately, a full course caution came out on about the fifth lap which halted the session. By the time we got back on track, I really only had one or two laps left in my session and didn't have time to get my tires back up to temperature. It went pretty well for me other than that, so I'm definitely excited for my first Star Mazda Championship race."
Round One of the 2011 Star Mazda Championship starts this afternoon at 4:10 p.m. EST. Live timing and scoring will be available at www.livetiming.net/starmazda. For more information, go to www.juncosracing.com.