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Valuable Podium & Points for Starworks at Oak Tree Grand Prix

 

August 24, 2014 – Starworks Motorsport claimed another podium finish with Renger van der Zande in the #8 Martini liveried Oreca Chevrolet FLM09 in segment (race) two in the ‘Oak Tree Grand Prix’ in Virginia today. However, the Monterey GP and Road America PC class winning pair of Renger and Mirco Schultis take home a sixth place finish, with Martin Fuentes and Kyle Marcelli a fifth place result due to the split TUDOR United Sportscar Championship points structure of the weekend at Danville.

The tightly scheduled, two-day event at the Virginia International Raceway commenced on Friday. Both Starworks cars encountered minor issues during the two practice sessions and it was Martin’s first outing at the track. Mirco, in the #8 Starworks, set the eighth fastest time in qualifying to sit just ahead of Martin in the #7 Bomberg liveried Oreca Chevrolet FLM09 in P9 on the starting grid for segment (race) one on Saturday afternoon.

The ‘Oak Tree Grand Prix’ comprised two 45-minute sprint races for the Prototype Challenge and Prototype Lites classes only. The results of race one determined the starting grid for the weekend finale and delivered half the weekend’s points for the PC teams (silver and then for the Pro’s in race two).

Both Starworks Oreca’s made a good start to race one on Saturday afternoon. Martin was up to P5 when a lengthy Full Course Caution came out. The track returned to green after 38 minutes of running and both he and Mirco, in the 8 car in P8, maintained positions to the chequered flag of the 23 laps race.

Canadian driver Kyle Marcelli stepped in to the #7 Starworks for warm up to the second segment on Sunday morning, with Renger van der Zande on driving duty in the 8 car. Renger made an impressive start to the day setting the second fastest lap time in warm up, with Kyle in P7.

As the race went green an hour later, both drivers made an impressive charge, with Kyle soon up a position to P4 and Renger shooting up five places from the back of the PC grid to run in fourth. The Dutchman and his Canadian team-mate drove a blistering race and were battling the top four, and with cars who were unfortunately in the Lites race, with Renger hot on the heels of race leader Diaz and #54 Braun for most of the 45 minute sprint. After fiercely attacking and defending, a late yellow with only six minutes on the clock meant that Renger would cruise home to claim the third placed podium for the Fort Lauderdale based squad, with Kyle right behind him in the 7 car at the end of the combined total, 47 laps race.

The third placed segment trophy, combined with team mate Mirco Schultis’ result from race one, means that the weekend result for the #8 Starworks Oreca-Chevrolet FLM09 is sixth.

For the #7 Starworks, the combined results of Martin Fuentes, who finished P5 in race one yesterday and Kyle Marcelli’s fourth place today means that the pairing come away from the Virginia International Raceway with a fifth place overall finish.

Renger van der Zande, #8 Starworks Motorsport:

“It was a really cool race to drive. From eighth to second, it was fantastic. You have to take a risk, and I took a lot of risk – a little paint scrubbing with the other cars – but it was all fair and good. The speed in the car was amazing. We had a really fast car in the race. I actually only drove today as we didn’t run in practice due to the wet and Mirco drove the rest of the weekend, but the car felt mega in warm up and the race today. It the end finishing third is good; it’s a bit of a strange format with these 45 minutes races, but we got a lot of points again and we are still second in the Championship so I look forward to finishing the rest of the season like this.”

Peter Baron, Team Owner, Starworks Motorsport:

“This very short weekend ends a streak of a fair amount of races. We are happy to head in to the break with no damage to our cars and shall be testing for our Petit Le Mans line-up before the next round at COTA. Both the 7 and 8 cars come away from Virginia with a decent amount of points and are looking good, especially the 8 car, in the overall standings.”

The next round of the TUDOR United Sportscar Championship is the all classes enduro ‘Lone Star Le Mans’ at Circuit of the Americas, Austin, TX, 19-20 September, 2014.

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Win for Starworks PC Ends Bitter Sweet Weekend at Road America

 

August 11, 2014: The #8 Martini-liveried Starworks Oreca FLM09 soared to Prototype Challenge class victory at the ‘Continental Tire Road Race Showcase’, Road America, with the #7 Bomberg Starworks charger narrowly missing out on a podium finish to come home in fifth.

Round 10 of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship commenced for the Fort Lauderdale based team with the announcement of the return of its #78 HPD-Riley DP with Canadian IndyCar driver, James Hinchcliffe, joining Starworks regular Scott Mayer behind the wheel. The usual suspects of Mirco Schultis and Renger van der Zande were all set in the #8 Starworks PC, with Alex Popow joining Martin Fuentes and John Martin for one race in #7.

Practice for all three cars ran with a few minor issues on Friday and Saturday, with qualifying producing P11 (P10 after #90’s time exclusion), P8 and P4 starting grid results for the 78, 7 and 8 cars respectively.

Race day on Sunday brought bittersweet results for the Florida based squad, however. Following great starts by Mirco Schultis in #8, who was soon up to P2, Scott Mayer soon in P9 in the #78 DP and Martin Fuentes in the 7 car, an incident between the 78, #09 PC & #56 at Canada corner brought out the first full course yellow caution (FCY) and an early retirement for the #78 Starworks Riley-HPD after only six minutes of running.

The race returned to green on lap eight with Mirco in P6 and Martin in P8 and the third FCY coming out at the 1 hour 50 minutes mark. The PC pit window opened on lap 21 with driver changes in the 7 car to Alex Popow and Renger van der Zande stepping in to the 8 car.

The track went back to green on lap 25 with Renger running in P6 and Alex in P8. During the fourth yellow caution of the day (with just over an hour of the race remaining), the Starworks team fuelled both PC cars adequately to take them to the finish and when Renger was released he made the “Audi Move of the Race” to take the PC class lead from Rayhall in #25.

With John Martin now in the driving seat of the 7 car for the closing stage, he took it up to P4 before the fifth yellow flag was raised. After 20 minutes and a brief spell at green, Renger was able to make a charge in the 8 car to knock on the P class door, only 1.73 seconds behind the #60 Ford Riley of Negri Jr in P3 overall. The final FCY was brief and the sprint finish to the 2 hours 45 minutes long enduro was 10 minutes of nail biting tension. John unfortunately lost out on the restart, having been nudged by #52 PC, and had to be content with P5 at the chequer, while Renger maintained his dominant lead to win the PC class in style and in sixth place overall.

Renger van der Zande, #8 Starworks Motorsport PC: “That was a great race, but all the hard work was done at the beginning! Mirco did a great job to get to P2 in the first stint. After that we were running well and the team made the call to get me in for a pit stop and back out again in first. I love my team! The guys are fantastic and did a great job. I am very happy for everyone as they have worked so hard, and for Mirco, to get our second win of the season.”

Martin Fuentes, #7 Starworks Motorsport PC: “It was a complicated weekend for our car because we couldn’t find a problem that was in the engine; we were losing a lot of time on the straights. We could have had third place, but an unfortunate hit between one driver and my teammate on the main straight cost us to finish 5th. We are looking forward to Virginia now, with some more good points for the team.”

Peter Baron, team owner, Starworks Motorsport:

“I am thrilled for the 8 car, and at the same time bitterly disappointed for the #78 HPD Riley and our crew as we were all very much looking forward to the race. To be taken out of commission so early was very disappointing for everyone concerned who had worked so hard to get the car here. We are crushed for Martin and the 7 car losing out on its podium run. John was forced in to the wall, but still fifth is okay and brings home some good points for him. He was on pace and shows that the 7 car is also in good shape for the Championship fight with three races to go.”

Round 11 of the 2014 TUDOR United Sportscar Championship is the Oak Tree Grand Prix (PC, GTLM, GTD classes) at VIR, 23-24 August.

Championship standings: http://www.imsa.com/series/united-sportscar/standings?invalidate-cache=1398565566

 

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Starworks….. Moving On from the Brickyard Grand Prix

 

“Frustration is just one of the words to describe the weekend. We fought set up changes to get our cars quick for the race, and effectively both cars were out of contention at 30 minutes in,” says Peter Baron, team owner, after a challenging Brickyard Grand Prix for his Starworks Motorsport team at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, July 25.

The #7 Starworks Motorsport Oreca Chevrolet FLM09 of Martin Fuentes and John Martin sustained damage early doors, forcing a lengthy repair pit stop and ultimately resulted in a disappointing last lap retirement to the pits from P8. The 8 car of Mirco Schultis and Renger van der Zande fell victim to a steering belt failure and race retirement 28 minutes in to the 2 hours and 45 minutes long enduro.

The ninth round of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Series commenced for the Fort Lauderdale based squad with two PC practice sessions on Thursday. Both the 8 and 7 cars made a solid start to come P4 and P7 in class respectively in Practice 1, however a troubled second session in the afternoon meant that the 8 car finished P8, with the 7 car not taking to the track at all due to clutch failure and an enforced change. Qualifying in the evening brought little improvement, with the Starworks chargers coming P7 (#8) and P9 (#7) on the time sheet to determine their grid positions for the start of the Brickyard Grand Prix.

After a more promising showing in warm up on Friday morning, both Starworks cars made a good start to the race late on Friday afternoon. The first of three full course yellow cautions came out after only 18 minutes of running and was shortly followed by the first pit stop window. After the second yellow of the race 25 minutes in, Mirco Schultis was running P5 in class in the Martini-liveried #8 Starworks PC when the steering belt failed, whilst on the same lap Martin Fuentes, running in P7 behind the wheel of the 7 car, was hit by a Porsche to sustain suspension damage.

With both Starworks chargers at the pit wall during the scheduled PC pit window, Martin endured a long stop as the team repaired what they could on #7 and he re-joined the field to parade round, six laps down, in P8 during a lengthy yellow for IMS officials to fix curb damage. The Florida based crew worked hard to try and get the 8 car back out in to the action throughout the remainder of the race, but to no avail.

The Brickyard Grand Prix returned to green with just over one and a half hours remaining. Martin Fuentes was running in P8, but 5 laps down on the class leader. He was able to take Plowman in the #88 PC to run in P7 until just under the one hour mark and the driver change to John Martin.

John maintained position, unable to make an improvement due to being seven laps down and there being no rival retirements. On the last lap he had to bring the 7 car in to pit lane from P8 because all the damage sustained during the race was making the car too difficult to drive. The team decided it was better to give away one point in the standings than risk safety of their, or other drivers, on track.

Peter Baron, team owner, Starworks Motorsport:

“To say that weekend was a character builder is an understatement. You just want to stick your head in the sand and hide, but have to pick yourself up and keep going. It was the second poor weekend in a row at tracks we have had great success at previously. We have to dig down deep now and make sure Road America is a success!”

The 8 car is currently third in class in the TUDOR United Sports Car Championship team standings with the 7 car in ninth. Martin Fuentes is second on the Drivers’ table, with Renger in third and Mirco in ninth place at this point in the TUSC season – with round ten at Road America tomorrow.

#8 Starworks is currently third in class and the 7 car in eleventh in the North American Endurance Championship with one round remaining – Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in October.

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James Hinchcliffe Joins Starworks for DP Return at Road America

 

Canadian motor racing driver James Hinchcliffe joins Starworks regular Scott Mayer for the return of the #78 HPD Riley at the Continental Tire ‘Road Race Showcase’ at Road America, WI, this weekend – round 10 of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

Honda Performance Development (HPD) developed a new, 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged Daytona Prototype version of the production J35 engine for 2014, with the Daytona Prototype Honda Riley package making its debut at the Sebring 12 Hours with Starworks Motorsport, but with limited success.

Peter Baron, team owner, says of the Daytona Prototype’s return, “Obviously we are all immensely happy about the return of the #78 Starworks HPD Riley. The project was no small undertaking. We were hoping to make an earlier return, but the amount of engineering and detail that went into the redesign took a bit longer than anticipated. Both HPD and Riley invested a tremendous amount of resources into an initial design that was discussed with the series, but not approved in the end. That cost us a little over a month. But the good news is we have a reliable solution and we are back on track and have a chance to defend our win last year at Road America with Scott!”

In the Rolex GRAND AM series last year, the #8 Starworks Motorsport BMW-Riley of Scott Mayer and Brendon Hartley won the 2013 ‘VisitFlorida.com Sports Car 250’ at Road America in nail-biting style, bringing home the Ford Lauderdale team’s sixth straight podium of the season to date.

Peter adds: “I’m thrilled now to be back competing for a win. Obviously we lost a fair amount of development and learning with the car as it was side-lined while our competition was on track, but we are optimistic on the return. Our goal for this outing is to show that we are reliable and competitive, and to build on the results. We aim to show, by season’s end, that we are back competing for wins, positioning ourselves well for 2015. I’m also very excited about the addition of James Hinchcliffe to the program. I first met James back at a Long Beach Formula Atlantic Championship race in 2006 and we got on well. He has a fun personality and nature that should gel nicely with our team. Honda HPD is also equally excited as we are to see one of their IndyCar drivers with the program. He brings excitement every time he gets in the car, as demonstrated in last week’s IndyCar battle from the back to podium finish.”

James Hinchcliffe, #27 United Fiber & Data, Andretti Autosport driver in the Verizon IndyCar Series since 2011, comments, “I’m really excited to be at Road America this weekend with Starworks and HPD. I don’t have a ton of time in the DP cars, but I know Road America well and I’m sure, with a team like Starworks, they will get me up to speed quick. Already having a relationship with HPD makes this an even cooler proposition and should help make the transition easier. More than anything I’m just happy to be in a car on an off weekend!”

Continental Tire ‘Road Race Showcase’ at Road America, WI, 8 – 10 August 2014 – TV Broadcast: Qualifying: 8/09/2014 at 4:20 pm EDT on IMSA web and app with the Race: 8/10/2014 at 6:30 pm EDT on FOX Sports 1.

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For more information on James Hinchcliffe please visit www.hinchtown.com and follow him on Twitter @hinchtown.

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Close But No Cigar for Starworks at The Glen

 

July 2, 2014 – It was close but no cigar for both Starworks Motorsport Prototype Challenge cars at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. The 7 car of Martin Fuentes and John Martin ran a near perfect race for a podium until a radio issue meant that it finished in fifth place at the chequered flag. The #8 Starworks Motorsport Oreca Chevrolet FLM09 also hit bad luck, when failing brakes caused an on track incident and a retirement with only eight minutes remaining of the six hours.

Running at The Glen commenced for the Fort Lauderdale squad with a sole PC practice on Friday. Both the 8 and 7 cars made a solid start to come P3 and P5 respectively in class, followed by a first class performance in practice two on Saturday morning when they topped the timesheets in P1 and P2. Less than half a second separated the top four PC cars in qualifying later in the afternoon, with the Starworks chargers locking down the second row of the grid, to line up for the start of the Sahlen’s Six Hours on Sunday with #8 in P3 and the 7 car in P4.

After another strong showing in morning warm up, both Starworks cars made a great start to the race. Renger van der Zande, in the Martini-liveried 8 car, was leading the class, with John Martin right behind in the 7 car in P3 by the end of lap one. By the first pit window Renger had built up a 30 seconds lead when Mirco jumped in while the team made a tire change and slapped in some fuel. He was running P1 at the end of the first hour when the first bit of bad luck struck the team.

John handed over the #7 Bomberg liveried Starworks to Martin Fuentes who proceeded to charge through the field. On the 8 car’s next entry to the pits, Mirco endured a long stop as the team repaired a broken mirror. He re-joined the field to run up to P4, with Martin in the 7 car ahead leading the class, when the first full course caution came out – one and a half hours in to the race.

The track didn’t stay green for long after the re-start and on Lap 67, just over the two hour mark, the flags went yellow again for a multi GT car incident. Martin was sitting pretty in #7 in P4 with Mirco keeping the front PC runners in his sights from the 8 car in P6. A spin and recovery for both Starworks cars on separate occasions set them back to P4 and P7 respectively as the enduro countdown reached half race distance.

The last driver change of the day saw a double stop for the team as both cars came in to the pits for Renger and John to take on the final stints. John in #7 was on a roll and running in podium position P3 while Renger was battling with traffic in P7.

The closing stages of the Six Hours were incident and caution filled. John made a stop allowing Renger to take P6 when the sky started to look a little grey. With talk of a potentially wet sprint finish, John and Renger made their charge in the final hour to carve up to P2 and P5 respectively.

As the clock counted down the final 30 minutes, a podium, possibly two, were looking to be on the cards. Renger in the 8 car had climbed up to P4, with John still ahead of him after a fuel stop, but now with a radio issue. A further full course yellow occurred and when the race went green for only a minute, Renger was unable to slow the 8 car due to brakes failure and ran in to the back of Scott Pruett’s #01 P car, taking them both out of contention and in to the tire wall.

The final full course yellow went green in time for a one lap dash to the chequer. With the team unable to contact John to advise him that he was able to pass the pace car to regain PC position, all he could do was bring the #7 Starworks PC home in P5, P10 overall, to secure some valuable points for the team.

John Martin, #7 Starworks Motorsport:

“I really feel bad for all the guys that we didn’t get the result that we deserved. Martin did a really good job in the car and gave it back to me after his stints in a good position.

All was looking ok for a podium first time out in LMPC for Starworks for me ‘til my last stint when we had a radio issue. I couldn’t talk to the team so when the caution came out I had no idea about the lap down wave around so we dropped down to p5.I would like to thank all the Starworks guys for the weekend and the opportunity to race at The Glen with them.”

Martin Fuentes, #7 Starworks Motorsport:

“This was one of the toughest weekends for race car drivers. After 5 and a half hours went by and with the #7 Bomberg-Under Armour Car fighting between 1st place and 4th, we encountered a radio problem on the last pit stop. We were unable to tell my teammate John Martin that the officials were authorizing 2nd to 5th place to pass the pace car and get in line behind the PC leader, so we lost 3 positions on the last 5 minutes of the race, without even racing. It was very painful to see our podium slip through our hands and now we concentrate on Indianapolis and learn from our mistakes.”

Renger van der Zande, #8 Starworks Motorsport:

“The race started well when I took the lead on lap one and drove 30 seconds away in the first stint. Mirco got spun around which dropped us two laps back and in to P8. When I got back in, I drove back all the way to P3 – the speed in the car was incredible and way the fastest out there. The podium direction was vanished when the brakes failed and I went into the wall together with the DP car in front of me. It’s a real shame as it was such a good race for us and for our position in the Championship. The only positive is that it’s great to see how strong we can perform.”

The 8 car is now second in the TUDOR United Sports Car Championship team standings with the 7 car in P9. Renger van der Zande is second on the Drivers’ table, with Martin in third and Mirco in fourth place at this point in the TUSC season.

#8 Starworks is currently third in class, the 7 car in eleventh, in the North American Endurance Championship with one round remaining – Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in October.

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