Star Mazda – Juncos Racing’s Grueling Pre-Season Testing

The Juncos Racing quartet of Tatiana Calderon, Joao Horto, Gustavo Menezes, and Martin Scuncio completed a program of pre-season testing sessions in their 2011 Star Mazda machines at three very diverse tracks: Sebring International Raceway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, and Roebling Road. The testing session was done “boot camp” style where the team went from one track to the next in rapid succession without respite for the four young drivers. This forced the four drivers not only to become more focused on their own race craft, but also gave them the opportunity to learn and assist one another, and to build familiarity and establish a level of comfort and communication with their mechanics and engineers. Having filled the four driving positions back in December, Juncos Racing is in a rather unique and enviable spot of being able to focus completely on preparations for the 2011 season in these early months.

Team Owner, Ricardo Juncos, seemed well pleased with the results of the pre-season test saying, “I’m so happy our pre-season testing went the way it did. We were really able to work in harmony with this new group of drivers which was great. They really get along very well together, and you can see already that the whole team has a fantastic energy and a high level of commitment for the 2011 season.” The four Juncos drivers also found the test to be very productive. Here’s what each of the drivers had to say about their experience during the three-week testing marathon.

Tatiana Calderon

“Testing was great. I think we are much more prepared for this season than we were last year at this time. Last year, we only had the chance to test at Sebring for a few days before the start of the season. Having the opportunity to test on three different tracks, even though we are not racing at any of them, gave me the chance not only to test the car and improve on the feedback from the car, but also to improve some of my driving skills. All the test sessions were really helpful in understanding the way the team works even more, and I feel like I have an even better and closer relationship with everyone on the team now.

“We tested a lot of things in the car that will help us during the season. There are still many things to learn and improve, but we have the base now. We also had the chance to drive in the rain which was a great experience for me considering that last year the only rainy session we had was qualifying at Autobahn Country Club. The team did a great job as always. Now, I am looking forward to the next test at Barber Motorsports Park which will be a new track for me. I will be sitting in front of the computer trying to learn the track by driving on my racing simulator and of course watching some onboard videos. Now more than ever I will be training in the gym every day since I am doing the online program with Jim Leo of PitFit. I can’t wait to see the team and be back in the car again!” — Tatiana Calderon

Joao Horta

“Pre-season testing went really well for me. I was able to get to know the environment and learn how Juncos Racing works as a team. It allowed me to build a relationship with all of my new team members which will help all of us have good results in the 2011 season and in the future.

“Since it is so easy to lose physical shape, I have been training since the end of the 2010 season so I would be ready for these pre-season tests and the upcoming races. I’ve also been doing some sports to help my reflexes and training on my racing simulator to learn new tracks and work on my feedback. I’m really looking forward to the start of the season.” — Joao Horto

Gustavo Menezes

“These test days were definitely crucial for me. Since I have had so little time in the Star Mazda racecar, every day of testing helps me improve and gain experience. I think the tests went very well for me and showed that we have a lot of good things coming this season. All the drivers on the team were quick, and we worked really well together.

“To prepare for the 2011 season, I have been going to the gym a lot so I can be ready for the first race in St. Petersburg. I am also spending a lot of time on racing simulators to get more track time on every track. I cannot wait until the season starts, and I think we will have a lot to show when it comes.” — Gustavo Menezes

Martin Scuncio

“Testing went really well. I am so happy with the team. I learned new things about the car throughout the three weeks of testing, and I was definitely able to improve my driving skills. On one hand, it’s a shame we will not be able to do private testing on any of the tracks we will be racing on, but on the other hand it’s nice because we will have more competitive drivers in the series as a result.

“I will be training at home for the whole month of February, both mentally and physically, to be ready for the official test at Barber Motorsports Park and also for the first race in St. Petersburg. I’m also going to be doing a lot of driving on racing simulators to learn the tracks and be prepared for this year. Thanks to all of the Juncos Racing team members for the great pre-season testing!” — Martin Scuncio

Juncos Racing will return to the track with the rest of the Star Mazda Championship teams during the open test at Barber Motorsports Park on March 14-16. Stay tuned to OpenPaddock as we’ll be sure to have a conversation with the Juncos quartet between now an the open test to get their thoughts on the upcoming season.

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2 Thoughts to “Star Mazda – Juncos Racing’s Grueling Pre-Season Testing

  1. That’s a really interesting way of going testing. In retrospect, it’s kind of weird that nobody that I can think of has tried it before. Good find here!

  2. Given how important it is for a driver and their engineers and mechanics to be comfortable with each other and be able to communicate efficiently and effectively, I’m stunned that this type of testing style hasn’t been utilized more often. I suppose part of it is that Juncos was fortunate enough to have all four of its drivers secured in December. Most teams don’t have things completely squared away until a month or less of the opening round.

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