There’s not been a whole lot going on this past week in the Mazda Road to Indy Program, but we did get a couple of big driver announcements late in the week. The fields are starting to fill up, so in the coming weeks, we’ll be putting together a preview of the 2011 seasons for the Cooper Tires presents the US F2000 National Championship powered by Mazda, the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, and the Firestone Indy Lights Series including a summary of driver/team combinations. For now, though, let’s look at the driver announcements that happened since last week.
Tristan signs on with JDC MotorSports for his sophomore season in the Star Mazda Championship after having a successful, if a bit inconsistent, rookie year with Andersen Racing. With Andersen stepping back from race operations to focus on other aspects of his business including the US F2000 National Championship, Tristan was left looking for a 2011 ride, and he could hardly have landed in a better spot.
“I’m honored and proud to represent JDC MotorSports this year. These guys know how to win championships and I am really looking forward to working with everyone in the team. The new Mazda Road to Indy program makes the Star Mazda Championship even more exciting! I’d like to thank John Church, the Star Mazda Championship partners, ABK Sports Management, and all of my sponsors and family who made this happen. They can be sure I’ll do my best to bring their colors to the top of the podium.” — Tristan Vautier
If he can improve his consistency, Tristan with JDC MotorSports will be a serious contender each race weekend.
Another announcement from JDC as they continue to work at finalizing their slate of drivers for the 2011 season came mid-week with the news that young sports car racer, Nick Mancuso, will be joining the team for a partial season schedule. Presumably, he and Chris Miller will be sharing a ride. This will be Nick’s first time competing in a single-seat open-wheel car, so look for this year to be a learning period for Nick.
“I am incredibly excited that I will actually be on the Star Mazda grid this year. JDC MotorSport’s championship-winning record speaks for itself, so I know that we will have a competitive car. I can’t thank my partners enough for making this happen, and I look forward to starting my journey on the Mazda Road to Indy. I am a bit of an unknown quantity in the openwheel world, and I look forward to hopefully catching some people by surprise when the lights go out in St. Pete.” — Nick Mancuso
The biggest news of the week came out late, and I apologize for not getting this out before now. Unfortunately, the Day Job, had to take precedence. Conor Daly finally announced his 2011 plans, and it looks to be a split between racing in the US and in Europe. He will be driving, as we suspected after the State of the Series address, for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, splitting the ride with Bryan Clausen. Conor will race on five road and street courses for the team as Bryan will race on the ovals. In addition to his Firestone Indy Lights schedule, Conor will also be racing in the GP3 Series for Carlin Motorsport at select events. This split schedule will help Conor keep his options open as he quests after his ultimate goal of driving in Formula 1. However, it also keeps his foot in the door in American open-wheel racing. Smart move, if you ask me.
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“I’m extremely pleased to have all the plans worked out for 2011. It’s taken a lot of work and I’m extremely thankful to everyone at Mazda who spent a great deal of time making sure my program was in order. It really shows how dedicated Mazda is to their ladder drivers. With the significant changes to the ladder system in 2010, Mazda still stayed devoted to supporting their champions. I’m honored to have the support of Mazda for the 2011 season and beyond.” — Conor Daly
Here the current schedule of events for Daly’s 2011 season courtesy of the Star Mazda Championship which released a nice article about his graduation both in American and European racing.
|March 27||FIL||St. Petersburg, Florida, USA|
|April 10||FIL||Barber Motorsports Park, Alabama, USA|
|April 17||FIL||Long Beach, California, USA|
|May 8||GP3||Istanbul Park, Turkey|
|May 22||GP3||Barcelona, Spain|
|June 26||GP3||Valencia, Spain|
|July 10||GP3||Silverstone, England|
|July 24||GP3||Nurburging, Germany|
|July 31||GP3||Hungaroring, Hungary|
|Aug 7||FIL||Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada|
|Aug 28||GP3||Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium|
|Sept 4||FIL||Baltimore, Maryland, USA|
|Sept 11||GP3||Monza, Italy|
Team Moore completes its driver roster for the 2011 Firestone Indy Lights season by signing Victor Garcia to drive the #22 car along side his 2008 teammate from the Spanish Formula 3 Series. Gustavo Yacaman was announced earlier for the #2 car. Garcia competed last season in the World Series by Renault 3.5 where he raced for KMP Racing. A slew of retirements devastated his year, and he languished mid-pack or worse for the races he was able to finish. The KMP Racing squad is not one of the premier teams that series, though, and now that he’s with a strong team with good equipment, it will be interesting so see how he improves.
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“First of all, I have to thank Team Moore Racing for giving me this opportunity. I am really happy and confident to be signing with them. We have already worked together [testing] and I really get on well with my crew and the whole team. We will work hard to have our best performance during the 2011 season. Having worked with my teammate before, I think it is going to improve my performance even more.” — Victor Garcia
“We are extremely pleased to have Victor join us at TMR. He has been testing with us in the off-season and is very fast. Victor learns the tracks quickly and is a fearless competitor. He has been fast in the car since the first test. He and Gustavo will make great teammates. I think we will be the team to beat this year in the FIL series with two drivers that will be capable of winning at every track we visit. Following a 2nd and 6th place finish in the Championship last year, we at TMR have our sights set at the top.” — Tom Wood, Co-Owner Team Moore Racing
A Look Ahead to the Coming Weeks
So what can we expect in the weeks to come? I’m sure we’ll see a couple more driver announcements as teams complete their rosters, but the pace will slow down until we get closer to the open test at Barber Motorsports Park. As always, I will endeavor to keep everyone up to date, but with the 100 Acre Wood Rally coming up and the 2011 Game Developers Conference immediately after that, my time will be hard pressed. By the way, if you’re in the San Francisco area, I’m always up for tossing a pint at Johnny’s!