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Start Mazda - Team GDT Race Report

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ST. PETERSBURG, March 26, 2012: Team GDT’s Andrés Méndez improved his finishing position from Saturday by one spot and his teammate, Ryan Tveter, made the video reel with a dramatic barrel-roll flip in Round 2 of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear Sunday at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Tveter, 17, of Oyster Bay, N.Y., was not injured in the crash even though his General Datatech No. 33 barrel-rolled through the air, hit the outside wall in Turn 1 hard and then burst into flames when oil from the gearbox caught on fire. The accident occurred after another driver hit his car in the rear as they were working lap 3 of the 20-lap race.

Before his run ended so dramatically Tveter had gotten off to a terrific start. He vaulted from 19th to 15th on the standing start and was preparing to pass Ashley Freiberg for another position when the accident occurred.

Méndez, 19, of Bogota, Columbia, started 17th and finished 14th with his entry, which is sponsored by Datafile International SA and Grupo Kriterion. He missed two big accidents that occurred in front of him: the one featuring his teammate and another one working lap 11 when Freiberg and Camilo Schmidt plowed into a tire wall.

There were only 5 minutes remaining when the race restarted. Although Méndez got close to the driver in front of him, Zach Meyer, time ran out and he took the checkered in 14th place. His fastest race lap was a 1:12.712 on lap 19.

Both Méndez and Tveter were making only their second Star Mazda start. Their series debut occurred less than 24 hours earlier on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street course beside Tampa Bay.

The races will be shown on the Velocity network and ESPN International on yet-to-be-announced dates. When the date is known it will be posted on the series’ Web site at

The series now travels to Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Ala., for an event this coming weekend. Méndez will compete in that race but Tveter’s racing career will pause for a bit while he concentrates on his schooling at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Conn. He’ll return to the circuit July 7-8 at the Grand Prix of Toronto.

Fans can learn more about Team GDT on its Facebook page or through Twitter @TeamGDT.

Driver quotes follow: 

Andrés Méndez: “The car was good. The changes we made to our set-up made the car better. I have to thank the team because they worked hard.

“I was right behind two huge accidents and I had to brake to not be involved. The first was with my teammate, Ryan. The second was with Ashley Freiberg and another driver.

“There were three yellows in all so we didn’t have many laps at speed. I was trying to pass Zack Meyer but I ran out of time.

“The track surface was a little slippery because of the rain we got overnight and this morning.

“My standing start today was good, but I can do even better the next time. I am glad that I finished both races. I learned a lot.”

Ryan Tveter: “My standing start was great today! I was flying! I think I passed at least four cars at the start. I passed my teammate; Jerimy Daniel; a Juncos car and I was right on the tail of Ashley Freiberg’s car, setting her up for a pass on the next lap. The car was great!

“I was going down the mainstraight, and Jerimy Daniel was behind me but not really close. I checked my mirrors again and I had the line going into the turn. It was my corner. I hit my brake marker, turned in and all of the sudden I was in the air. He dive-bombed me.

“I barrel-rolled and then I hit the outside wall hard. The car caught on fire then. But I got out really quickly and I have no injuries. In terms of a crash it looked big but it really wasn’t that bad.

“I’m obviously disappointed but there was nothing I could do about it. I really want to thank the team for a great weekend. The car was perfect and I felt like I could have taken a lot of positions in the race.

“I think I’m much better at standing starts now; I got a great one today. I learned a lot this weekend. I’ll take what I learned here and apply it when I get back with the series at Toronto.”