Star Mazda - Juncos Racing Team Report
Monterey, September 19, 2011: After topping three out of four practice sessions this weekend-and coming in second and third in the fourth session-Juncos Racing struggled to deliver winning results in this morning's qualifying and race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The team dominated at the track in both 2009 and 2010 with all the fastest practice times, both poles, and a race win, and the start of this weekend's final event looked like it would follow the same pattern. However, the team ended up delivering best qualifying efforts of fifth for J.V. Horto, seventh for Tatiana Calderon, and tenth for Gustavo Menezes, making it much more of a challenge to push for the desired 1-2-3 podium finish in the race.
On the first lap of the race, Californian rookie Gustavo Menezes made it clear he was on a mission to drive his #28 Juncos Racing/TRUECar/SafetyPark/Oakley/Racing Optics car to the front of the field; by the time he crossed the start/finish line for lap two, he had already overtaken four cars and improved to sixth position. From there, he continued to push ahead and was up to fifth position at one point, but on lap 20, the almost-17-year-old (his birthday is tomorrow), lost control of the car and slammed into the tire wall, damaging his car and scoring him in 15th position.
Gustavo Menezes on the race and 2011 season: "I definitely can't complain about the season or today. We learned so much this weekend, and even with a DNF in the race, we still had a great weekend and showed we have the speed. J.V. (Horto) and I started off very strong. We were top three in all of the practice sessions, and it looked like we were going to be at the top today. Unfortunately, it didn't happen that way. I had some engine problems in qualifying and ended up P10. I had an awesome start in the race though; I told J.V. I would be on his tail by turn five, he looked in his mirrors, and I was!
The season has been great. I came to Star Mazda straight from go-karts, and it was a really steep learning curve, but we showed we can really run strong next year. This was my first and last crash this season, and I can always learn from my mistakes. Maybe the cars weren't perfect today, but I have never seen a team work so hard to get everything right. They deserved a little better than I gave them today, so I apologize, but I think next year will be a really good season. My goal will be to break all the records Juncos Racing set last year with Conor (Daly)! Thanks to the team, my sponsors, and supporters. I am looking forward to 2012."
Menezes ended his rookie season in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear with a podium, nine top-ten finishes, and eighth in the driver's championship.
Tatiana Calderon had a great start when the green flag fell for the 45-minute event, charging forward to take on the 2.238-mile road course, her favorite style of track. Though she didn't have room to make a pass at the start, the Colombian racer hung onto her position and focused on doing what she is best at, staying consistent, to bring her #10 Juncos Racing/JAC Motors car home where she started, in seventh position. Calderon also turned out the fastest lap time of the three teammates with a time of 1:23.674.
Tatiana Calderon on the race and 2011 season: "I had a great start in today's race, but I had to slow down a bit because J.V. (Horto) was in front of me, and he had a little problem at the start. It wasn't the best race for the team. We struggled with the car today, but as a team, we win together and lose together, so we will take a lot away from the weekend. I once again improved a lot over the weekend. On Friday, I was one second off the pace, but today, I had the fastest lap of the team!
I definitely want to thank Peter (Dempsey) and the whole Juncos Racing team for making me a better driver this season. My improvement from last year to this year has been huge. The season is not over for me yet; I have a few F3 races I will be competing in, so we will see how that goes and look forward to 2012."
Calderon ended her second season of Star Mazda Championship racing with her first career podium finishes (achieved at Barber Motorsports Park and Mosport International Raceway) and a sixth place finish in the driver's championship.
J.V. Horto started this weekend the strongest he's been all season; he was fastest in three of the four practice sessions and second in the fourth session, results that seemed like they would line him up for his second career victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Unfortunately, qualifying and the race did not go as splendidly as hoped for the Brazilian racer. Horto had a rocky start, but was able to hold onto his position for the first lap. After that, his #7 Juncos Racing/Programa Leiloes/Athlete of Christ/Oakley car started to slip backwards. Still, Horto was able to cross the finish line in a solid sixth place finish.
J.V. Horto on the race and 2011 season: "The weekend started very well. The car was very balanced, and Peter (Dempsey) did an awesome job teaching me the track. I learned a lot from all the Juncos Racing videos and data from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. I have no idea what happened today. The track must change a lot here. Qualifying was tough and the race was even harder. I tried to stay as close to the top-five as I could.
I finished fourth in the championship this year which wasn't what I was looking for, but I still got my first win this year which was great. Thank you to the team for all their help and hard work. We always worked at 100 percent which is so important. We learned from each mistake, and I have improved more than ever this year. I also gained a lot of confidence, and I know I can be really competitive now. Now, I am going to celebrate all the great times we had this year. I will come back even stronger in 2012."
Horto ended the 2011 season with his first career victory at Mosport International Raceway, four podium finishes, and fourth place in the driver's championship.
Juncos Racing fought hard all season for the Team Championship title and went into this weekend just two points away from the lead. After 11 rounds of racing, the team ended up finishing second after leaders Team Pelfrey finished first and second in today's race. At the end of 2011, Juncos Racing captured nine podiums, one pole position, and one win, all victories the reigning champions can be proud of achieving in their third season of racing in the Star Mazda Championship.
Team Owner, Ricardo Juncos on the race and 2011 season: "At the start of the weekend, everything was so smooth and perfect. Unfortunately, from the last practice on Friday to qualifying today, the track changed a lot, and we didn't have time to make any major adjustments. That's racing, though. We struggled a lot in the race with setup which hurt our performance. We expected the track to change, but some teams got lucky with the changes and some didn't. We didn't. We lost our contention for the team championship today, but I'm still so happy with the 2011 season.
All year we showed what we can do. Look at Gustavo-he never drove a formula car before this year, and he showed he can be at the top. It was a challenge this season having drivers that needed a little more development, but that's what we love and what we strive for. We showed this year that Juncos Racing can develop a driver from race one until the end. That's always our goal, and that's what we did. I'm really happy. It was a good season with great team effort. Thanks to the drivers, team, sponsors, fathers, and everyone for making it happen. I am looking forward to 2012 now."
Juncos Racing will now focus on off-season testing and preparation for the 2012 racing season. The team would like to extend its continued thanks to OMP Racing for its support in providing top of the line racing gear for the team's drivers.