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Oct 14, 2012 - 09:12 AM
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Four Drivers Have Successful Test With Team GDT At IMS
Posted by: newsla on Oct 14, 2012 - 09:04 AM
Sports Cars
Four Drivers Have Successful Test With Team GDT At IMS

Andres Méndez, Juan Camilo Acosta and two drivers from Mexico’s LATAM Challenge Formula 2000 Series — Francisco Cerullo and André Solano — recorded a combined total of 374 laps in Team GDT’s three Star Mazda cars Wednesday and Thursday on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


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The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear was one of three Mazda Road to Indy series showcased at the second annual Chris Griffis Memorial Open Test.

None of the four had ever driven at the Brickyard before this test, and only Méndez had ever driven a Star Mazda car before Wednesday morning. Méndez, of Bogotá, Colombia, is in his rookie season of Star Mazda this year with Team GDT. The 18-year-old is sponsored by DataFile Internacional S.A. and Grupo Kriterion.

Acosta, the winner of the most recent Panam GP series race, turned the Dallas-based team’s fastest lap in three of the four sessions and set its fastest lap of the test. The 22-year-old from Cali, Colombia had a top time of 1:26.295 on his 28th lap of 32 laps in the morning session on Thursday. That works out to an average speed of 104.877 miles per hour for the 2.534-mile, 13-turn road course. He was fourth and fifth overall in Wednesday’s sessions. Acosta is sponsored by two young women’s clothing lines: Studio F and Ela.

Cerullo and Solano were awarded their tests as part of a new partnership between the Mazda Road to Indy and the LATAM Challenge Formula 2000 Series Powered by Volkswagen, with LATAM and Volkswagen sponsoring their participation in the test. They shared one car.

Cerullo, of Caracas, Venezuela, the current LATAM point leader who is also sponsored by Jackers, drove on Wednesday. Solano, of San José, Costa Rica, who is currently second in LATAM points, drove on Thursday.

Solano ended up with Team GDT’s second-fastest lap of the test when the A3 Energy Drink-sponsored driver ran a 1:26.642 (104.457 mph) in the final session on Thursday. His fastest lap came on his 20th lap of 32 in that session, which was slowed twice by red flags. The first red came just 7 minutes into the session when Acosta ended up in a gravel trap off Turn 2 in a single-car incident. Once freed he was able to drive the car back to the garage area and then continue in the session after some minor repairs were made.

All of the Team GDT drivers did remarkably well despite their learning curve. Méndez did a half-spin on Wednesday to avoid another driver who was having an issue and there were several incidences of wheels being dropped off the course, but the cars emerged from the test unscathed.

Temperatures were only in the high 40s and low 50s Fahrenheit both days and there was a stiff breeze.

Méndez turned 126 laps and Acosta did 120 laps over the course of the two days. Cerullo ran 62 laps on Wednesday and Solano completed 66 laps on Thursday.

“It’s a great track and a Star Mazda car is fun to drive!” Solano summarized for the drivers. “Team GDT is an excellent team with really nice people and it was a great experience. We learned a lot. We hope to see you all again soon!”

“All four drivers did amazingly well,” said Paul Mata, team manager. “Both of the drivers from the LATAM series are definitely ready to move up to Star Mazda, as is Acosta. We were very impressed with them, both on and off the track.”

The Star Mazda season finale is coming right up next Friday, Oct. 19 as part of the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga.

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