The Team GDT squad keeps getting stronger and is shaping up to be a serious contender for the 2011 Star Mazda Championship. As you’ll remember from earlier in the year, the team hired top-notch engineer Eric Purcell which in itself seriously elevates the competitiveness of the team. The addition of the 2010 US F2000 National Championship runner-up, Patrick McKenna, immediately puts Team GDT among the strongest teams on the 2011 grid. The 2011 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear is really shaping up to be one of the best and most competitive in a long time, in fact, we may see a repeat of many of the battles we saw last year in US F2000. McKenna will once again be battling against Sage Karam of Andretti Autosport, Martin Scuncio now with Juncos Racing, and Mikhail Goikhberg of JDC MotorSports. It should be one fantastic season! Here’s the complete press release from Team GDT regarding their signing of Patrick.
GDT SIGNS USF2000 STAR PATRICK McKENNA FOR THE 2011 STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON
Voted 2010’s ‘Dunlop Motorsport Ireland Young Racing Driver of the Year,’ the 23 year-old Dublin native adds a dash of youth to the Texas team’s championship recipe
Dallas, TX / Feb. 9, 2011 – Texas-based Team GDT announced today it has signed Irish racer Patrick McKenna to compete in the 2011 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear. McKenna, 23, runner-up in the 2010 USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda and voted Dunlop Motorsport Ireland ‘Young Racing Driver of the Year’ for the second consecutive year by the Irish Motorsports Council and Motorsport Ireland, will join drivers J.W. Roberts and Carlos Conde as the team aims to repeat – and expand on – its championship-winning effort in 2010. Team owner/driver Roberts won the Star Mazda Expert Series championship for drivers aged 30-44 and Conde won the Master Series championship for drivers 45 and older. McKenna will race with support from Team GDT, Willsborough Transport, Motorsport Ireland and Irish Sports Council.
McKenna, a native of Dublin, Ireland who now lives in Indianapolis, drove the #2 Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing car to a 2nd-place finish in the 2010 USF2000 championship, scoring two wins (O’Reilly Raceway Park, where he won from the pole, and New Jersey Motorsports Park) and six podium finishes. His resume also includes the 2008 All-Ireland/Northern Irish Formula Ford Champion and the prestigious Martin Donnelly Trophy. He is also a college graduate, having studied manufacturing engineering at the Dublin Institute of Technology.
“I am really looking forward to taking the next step on the Mazda Road to Indy with a championship-caliber organization like Team GDT,” says McKenna. “The team proved what they were capable of in 2010 and they have a very accomplished group of people in place for 2011. Everyone is extremely motivated for the coming season and I can’t wait to get working with the guys. 2010 was a strong year for me in USF2000 and I am confident I can build on from that in Star Mazda this season. I just want to thank everyone who’s helped make it happen”
In 2010, Team GDT drivers captured two championships within the Star Mazda Championship; the Expert Series for drivers aged 30-44 and Master Series for drivers 45 and older. Team owner/driver J.W. Roberts won the Expert title, driving his #65 Team GDT / General Data Tech Mazda to a total of nine in-class victories. Roberts (left) also won the BBS ‘Hard Charger Award” which is presented to the driver who gains the most places in total from the beginning to end of all the races during the season. Carlos Conde (right), a former semi-pro polo player and investment banker who splits his time between New York and his home country of Puerto Rico, won the Master Series with six in-class wins racing the #31 Team GDT / Pronto-GMT / Olympus Securities Mazda.
In addition, the team served notice of their increasing competitiveness in the GP3R at Trois-Rivieres when they put Team GDT driver coach Alex Ardoin (center) – also the 2009 GP3R winner — in the team’s spare car for the race. Starting from the outside of the second row, he won the race, completing a unique ‘tri-fecta’ for the team, which also included in-class wins for Roberts in the Expert Series and Conde in the Master Series. Both Roberts and Conde will return to compete in the 2011 Star Mazda Championship, racing in the new Expert Series for all drivers 30 and older.
“As a team owner I am very pleased to have a driver of Patrick’s talent on board,” says Roberts. “He has shown last year what he can do by finishing second in the points in the USF2000. I expect big things this year. I am very excited to start the 2011 and go for an overall championship! I expect to see him on the podium many times standing next to myself this year.”
As part of Team GDT’s ‘championship upgrade,’ top engineer Eric Purcell has also been added to the team’s roster of talent for the upcoming season. Purcell, who engineered John Edward’s Star Mazda Championship-winning car for AIM Autosport in 2008, is an MIT-trained engineer with more than thirty years of experience in Europe and the U.S. as a driver, engineer and team manager. His experience includes road courses, street circuits and ovals, as well as such series as Formula BMW, Formula Atlantic and Indy Lights. He also had a major role in the early development of the Formula Mazda series.
Adding to the championship mix at Team GDT for 2011 will be experienced team manager Paul Mata and driver coach and nutrition/lifestyle consultant Chuck West, a championship-winning open-wheel driver – including the 1992 Star Mazda Championship — and the original founder of the championship-winning Worldspeed Motorsports team. West’s ‘whole life’ approach to driver training, which includes everything from fitness and nutrition to lifestyle, is credited by current team drivers Roberts and Conde with being a major factor in their 2010 championship campaigns. In addition to Mata and West, racer and driver coach Alex Ardoin will continue to work with the team as liaison with the new young drivers Team GDT plans to run in 2011.
“I’m very excited to have Patrick on board for 2011 season,” says Mata. “With Eric Purcell as our engineer I expect Patrick to be a front runner from the get go. In my discussions with Patrick over the last month he displayed the exactly the attitude we are looking for; he’s confident, but with the willingness to learn more. Which was exactly what we are looking for at GDT.”
As a part of the 2011 Mazda Road to Indy, drivers in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear are competing for a prize fund valued in excess of $1.2 million – including a $500,000 scholarship to help the series champion move up to the 2012 Firestone Indy Lights series. The 2011 Star Mazda Championship season begins with sharing the track with IZOD IndyCars and Firestone Indy Lights during INDYCAR ‘Spring Training,’ March 14-16 at Barber Motorsports Park. The 2011 Star Mazda season-opener takes places at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg IndyCar weekend, March 25-27.