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Sep 12, 2012 - 04:21 PM
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Tveter Gets Valuable Experience
Posted by: newsla on Sep 12, 2012 - 04:10 PM
American Le Mans Series News
Tveter Gets Valuable Experience


While other 18-year-olds went to football games last weekend, Ryan Tveter tackled one of North America’s most challenging road courses. The Lehigh University freshman, a resident of Oyster Bay, N.Y. and Zurich, Switzerland, finished 16th and 14th in a doubleheader Saturday and Sunday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The races were part of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, an official step in the Mazda Road to Indy program designed to train up-and-coming open-wheel race car drivers for international competition.

 

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Tveter was making his first series start on a permanent road course after posting impressive results during the series’ street-circuit races, including a top-five finish in Edmonton, Alberta in July. Unlike several of his more experienced rivals he finished both races on the challenging, 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course near Monterey, Calif., and improved on his starting position in both events.

Tveter started 17th in Saturday’s race with his Team GDT No. 33, which is sponsored by CIMIER Swiss Watches and Motorola Mobility, LLC, and finished 16th. He was 15th until the very last lap, when he spun in Turn 6 and continued on.

He started 18th in Sunday’s race and worked his way through the field to tenth place by lap 14 after a wild four-car battle. Unfortunately his car was hit in the rear by another competitor in Turn 5 working lap 17 and suffered suspension damage due to the contact. Tveter was forced to drop back to 16th place, but after another battle with Kyle Kaiser he was 14th when the checkered waved on lap 31.

Saturday’s race was 30 minutes long and Sunday’s race was 45 minutes long. They were taped for coverage on the Discovery Network’s Velocity channel at noon Eastern time on Saturday, Oct 13. They’ll also be shown on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada and on ESPN International.

“Overall I had a great weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca,” Tveter said. “Team GDT gave me a perfect car and Remi [Lanteigne, his engineer] and I were able to create a near-perfect setup for the conditions.

“Race 1 was very challenging,” he said. “I lost some momentum on the start when I had a small problem with the shifter and ended up too quickly in third gear uphill in Turn 1. It was tough to recover from there but I did manage to gain a couple of positions after starting P17. I was holding my own at P15 for most of the race until I spun in Turn 6 on the final lap and gave up a position to my teammate to finish 16th. Turn 6 was pretty treacherous and took a number of the top cars out of contention over the weekend. The track was a learning experience for everyone, even those who had driven it before.

“I had a tremendous start in the 45-minute Race 2 on Sunday!” he continued. “I managed to climb from a starting position of P18 to P10 and fended off at least four cars on my tailpipe for most of the race until one of them punted me in Turn 5, breaking my suspension and one of the wheel bearings. He dive-bombed me so I left him room to drive side-by-side through the corner and fight for the position, yet he still managed to hit me. I was able to recover and push the car to finish 14th, but Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is so fast that it is really tough to close any gaps and pass, even with a perfect car, so getting the positions I lost was just impossible. It was hugely disappointing to me because I had worked so hard to maintain a good lead and was in position for an excellent finish before the very hard hit to the rear. There was nothing I could do except stay on track and fight the best I could.

“Despite the challenges, the weekend was an excellent learning experience for me,” he added. “The speed, elevation changes and incredibly fast corners at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca are intimidating to some of the best drivers in the world, so I felt really good about being able to increase or maintain my lap times when the track was slower for other drivers, including the leaders. P16 and P14 are not horrible results for my first time on a permanent circuit, but no doubt I could have done better with a little more experience and no hits from behind. Having to fight even harder for position and defend for so long on such a high-speed and complicated circuit was also really great experience for developing my race craft. In that respect, I achieved my goals for this weekend. My lap time improvements and data were very strong.

“I am extremely grateful to my marketing partners, CIMIER Swiss Watches and Motorola Mobility, LLC, not only for their support but also for their amazing encouragement,” Tveter emphasized. “I am so lucky to have such quality partners.”

The 50-minute Star Mazda season finale will be on Friday afternoon, Oct. 19, in support of the American Le Mans Series’ Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga.


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