Star Mazda Barber Park - Calderon Takes Podium And Career Best Finish At Barber
Leeds, April 11, 2011: Tatiana Calderon, 18, came from a career-best qualifying position of sixth to take her first podium and best finish of third place in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at today's race in Barber Motorsports Park. In a race where consistency was the key to success, Calderon was one of the cars who managed to stay clean and out of trouble while still battling for positions. She can also now say that she is one of only a few women, one of which is former Radical European Masters Series teammate Natacha Gachnang, to claim a podium finish in the Star Mazda Championship.
"I am so happy with my result," said Calderon. "The car was really consistent throughout race, and that was the most important thing. The beginning of the race was really difficult because I was having trouble passing at first, but since I wasn't pushing as hard as I could right away, I had good tires at the end. I really think that's why I finished in third. I am really happy with team; they did a great job once again. I'm actually really looking forward to the upcoming oval tracks this year. I think we will have a competitive car, and I'm ready. We also got some good points for the championship today, so I'm thrilled."
Finishing just behind Calderon in fourth position was teammate J.V. Horto. Horto started today's race on the front row of the grid but lost the second place position to fellow Juncos Racing driver Martin Scuncio at the start. It wasn't long before the young Brazilian reclaimed the position from Scuncio which he held on to until the near end of the 45-minute race, but car handling issues forced him to surrender two positions to Calderon and the No. 81 car of Nick Andries before the event was over. Horto still crossed the finish line in fourth position, however, and gained some valuable championship points.
"Well, I started the race in second, and we always want to be moving forward, not backward," began Horto. "Most of the drivers had difficulties on the track today with the heat, and unfortunately, those difficulties hit me with about ten minutes to go. I think I have to adapt my driving style a little bit to get used to things like that. Still, the result I got today was really good. I'm thinking about the championship in the long run, and I'm closer to the top than I was after the first race which is great. It's only the second race of the season, so we have a long way to go and a lot of things can happen. We are definitely looking forward to the oval season now. I had some good results last year for my first year doing ovals with two podiums in two oval races. The Juncos Racing team also had a good result last year with Conor (Daly), so I'm going to try to put all of that together. Congratulations to Tatiana (Calderon), and thanks to Juncos Racing, too."
Sixteen-year-old Gustavo Menezes followed in Calderon's suit, also delivering a consistent yet well-fought race today. The rookie stayed hot on the trail of the cars in front of him and overtook them when the time was right while also driving a solid race. The result was a well-earned seventh place finish-his best finish in the Star Mazda Championship to date. He is also tied for seventh place in the driver's championship with both teammate J.V. Horto and GDT's Patrick McKenna.
"I think it was a really good race for me," said Menezes. "We started in tenth position, and I got a really good start off the line. From there, the car started to go off, but it was the same for everyone, really. After that, I was able to adjust to the setup which was important, and it all came together again. We worked really hard, brought home a solid seventh place finish, and we were really happy. This gave me some good points for the championship, and I think we are in a really good place for my second ever Star Mazda Championship race."
After what seemed like the perfect start to the race, Martin Scuncio encountered the most struggles out of the four Juncos Racing drivers today. The 2.3-mile road course seemed to eat up his rubber in the heat, and the car handling issues he had saw him go from third, to second, and ultimately drop all the way back to 11th. Nonetheless, the 19-year-old rookie will leave the weekend third in the driver's championship, not at all a bad place to be after only the second race of the season.
"We had a really great start," said Scuncio. "The first three or four laps were good, and we were really consistent, but then I made some mistakes, and the car started to go off. I kept falling back more and more and was struggling with understeer, and by the end, I could hardly drive the car anymore. I really just focused on finishing the race and getting some points for the championship today. It was a tough day, so I just want to look forward to the next few races from here."