Star Mazda - Team GDT's Mendez Finishes 15th, Tveter 21st In First Star Mazda Race Event
ST. PETERSBURG, March 25, 2012: Team GDT’s rookies got their first Star Mazda race under their belts Saturday afternoon at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix.
Nineteen-year-old Andrés Méndez of Bogota, Columbia, ended up starting 18th instead of 19th and he finished 15th. He drives the No. 53, which is sponsored by Datafile International SA and Grupo Kriterion.Seventeen-year-old Ryan Tveter of Oyster Bay, N.Y. started 14th and finished 21st in the No. 33. It carries advertising for the team’s primary sponsor, General Datatech, L.P.
They’ll both take what they learned on Saturday and try to apply it on Sunday. The second race of the year for the series, which is presented by Goodyear, is at 10:05 a.m. on the same 1.8-mile, 14-turn street course. Méndez will start 17th and Tveter will start 19th Sunday morning.
The Star Mazda series features standing starts. Méndez had done them before in kart races but never in a race car. Tveter’s only experience was one in practice yesterday when he peeled out of the pits.
They got off safely when the green dropped on Saturday but not without a couple issues. Méndez incurred a stop-and-go penalty for jumping and Tveter lost three positions when he got squeezed in Turn 1.
Tveter set his fastest race lap on lap eight (1:12.738) while he was in 17th, and he remained in 17th until lap 11. He moved up one spot at that point when Zach Meyer fell back. He was closing on Camilo Schmidt for 15th when he suspected he was having an engine problem and pulled off with 14 laps complete rather than destroy an expensive motor.
Méndez dropped to the rear of the field after his penalty and then tried to recover without the help of any full-course caution flags. He passed Walt Bowlin for 19th in Turn 1 with nine laps complete. He set his fastest lap on lap 12 with a 1:12.568, and he advanced to 16th two laps later when Tveter and Carlos Linares pulled off onto an escape area.
Méndez got 15th when he passed Larry Pegram in Turn 10 with a slick move with 20 laps down. The race ended on lap 23 when Connor De Phillippi took the checkered after leading every lap from the pole.
After the race Team GDT hosted a picnic in its paddock area for about 10 corporate guests from Verizon. The picnic has become an annual tradition for the Dallas-based team and General Datatech’s guests.
For more information, including live timing and scoring, see the series’ Web site at starmazda.com. Other news is posted on indycar.com and gpstpete.com. Fans can learn more about Team GDT on its Facebook page or through Twitter @TeamGDT.
Driver quotes follow:
Andrés Méndez: “My car was pretty good but we are going to go over the data and work to make the handling even better for tomorrow’s race.
“At the start of the race I was too anxious and I got a stop-and-go penalty for jumping.
“I came back out and I pushed and pushed and passed some guys and finished 15th.
“I moved the bar on the second lap and it helped [the car’s handling] a little, but we still need more.
“On the last lap I almost hit the wall in Turn 9 because the tires were gone. But I caught it!
“The track was good. It has a lot more grip now.
“What’s the biggest thing I learned? That I can drive near the wall.”
Ryan Tveter: “I didn’t get the best start. It was the first standing start I’d ever done, and when we got to Turn 1 they were going to push me into the wall so I backed off.
“As the race progressed I was sticking with the guys in front of me pretty well, but then I thought I was having an engine problem so I pulled off. Carlos Linares pulled off at the same time in the same spot, but we didn’t have any contact.