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Victory for Starworks at Six Hrs of The Glen

June 30, 2015: Starworks Motorsport picked up their second consecutive Prototype Challenge race victory in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, 26-27 June, 2015, on the back of winning at the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic presented by Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers last month. The #8 Starworks Motorsport Oreca Chevrolet FLM09 has now won the most races of any car in any class since the start of the new TUDOR United Sportscar Championship in 2014.

Dutch racing ace and Starworks regular Renger van der Zande was joined by team veteran Alex Popow and California-born Mike Hedlund as regular co-driver Mirco Schultis was not available for the fifth PC round in New York. It was Renger’s fifth career TUSC victory and Alex Popow’s ninth win across TUSC, American Le Mans and GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series’, and the first for Mike Hedlund, who is currently competing in the Pirelli World Challenge.

The Starworks Motorsport team was fast straight out of the trailer at Watkins Glen International with even its dry set up translating well to the wet when the rain came. Renger was the fastest PC driver in practice two on Friday and with Qualifying cancelled on Saturday due to wet conditions the grid positions for Sunday’s race were set by Championship points.

After setting the quickest class time in the wet warm up on Sunday morning, it was down to Mike Hedland to commence the six-hour enduro in the #8 Martini liveried challenger from P6 on the grid.

Peter Baron, Team Owner, Starworks Motorsport:

“Mike did a perfect job in very trick conditions. A light rain was falling at the start and he managed his best on slick tires. He hung in there while many others were having problems and so once the track dried out, about 30 minutes in, he was on it for the next hour. Alex got in under yellow and kept the momentum going, running in P2 the whole time. It was exactly what we needed. Renger’s finishing stints will be talked about for some time. He was in a class of his own out there in about the worst rain and trying conditions you could get. He never put a wheel wrong and brought it home with the win and 4th overall.”

“This was a great momentum builder for us,” continued Peter. “Our car has been fast the last few events and we now have two wins in a row. We are only five points out of the Championship lead and feel we have a shot at the title. To say we are excited to get to CTMP is an understatement. It was a shame Mirco could not be with us at The Glen and we are grateful to him and Mishumotors for giving us the chance to push on while we wait for his return at Mosport. ”

Mike Hedlund, #8 Starworks Motorsport:

“We unloaded a fast car and every time we went out on track it was better, wet, dry or mixed, it was fantastic! I was a little nervous at the start because between the time we decided to start on slicks and the time they rolled us out of pit lane the rain had started to get heavier. It ended up being the correct call, although the first stint was perilous! We started the race from P6 and I think we made it up to P2 by the end of the first lap. I couldn’t keep up with Conor Daly and settled in to push as hard as I could without any risk of going off or getting hit while trying to save fuel. Once the car was up front we were able to manage the rest of the race. Our pit stops and strategy calls were perfect and Renger was brilliant toward the end once it became a boat race! Thanks to all our crew guys and girls, Peter Baron, Mirco Schultis, Renger van der Zande and Alex Popow for having me along at The Glen.”

Starworks Motorsport is now third in both the TUSC Prototype Challenge Team Championship (152 points) and North American Endurance Cup (with one round remaining). Renger van der Zande is fifth in the Prototype Challenge Drivers’ Championship on 126 points. The next round of the TUSC is the Mobil 1 Sportscar Grand Prix presented by Hawk Performance, 10-12 July, at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Bowmanville, ON.

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Starworks Takes First TUSC Victory at Laguna Seca

May, 4 2014: On the weekend that marked the return of Martini to professional sports car racing, the #8 Starworks Motorsport Oreca-Chevrolet FML09 took the TUDOR United Sportscar Championship Prototype Challenge class’ first overall victory in the ‘Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda’.

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Starworks Takes Home the Win at Le Mans

Le Mans 24 Hours LMP2 winners Tom Kimber-Smith, Enzo Potolicchio and Ryan Dalziel said they had to go flat-out from start to finish to secure their victory.

The Starworks HPD drivers were chased to the flag by Mathias Beche, Christophe Tinseau and Pierre Thiriet in the #46 TDS ORECA-Nissan. The trio said that the race was even faster than 2011 – when Kimber-Smith won with the Greaves team – and that if they had encountered any problems at all they would not have won.

“This was the first year that it was a flat-out race,” Kimber-Smith told AUTOSPORT. “Last year was pretty quick but you drove with something in reserve but this year we didn’t, it was a purely flat-out race.”

He added: “There were eight cars on the same lap for most of it and even at the end second place was very close behind.”

Dalziel reckoned he had run qualifying-style laps all race.

“The equipment is built so well now that it has to be a sprint race,” he said. “Other than maybe the last hour we were doing qualifying laps the whole time.

“If any of the P2 cars that finished on the podium had a problem they wouldn’t have been there.”

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2012 Team Of The Year, Starworks Motorsport

As a team owner, you always shoot for the stars. Wins in some of the sport’s iconic races, such as the Twelve Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as at the hallowed grounds of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, would be crowning lifetime achievements for anyone.

But what if a team could win all three in a single year, along with claiming a coveted sports car World Championship and North American endurance crown?

The season one could only dream of turned into reality for Peter Baron and his Starworks Motorsport organization in 2012, which conquered all but one of the major enduros it entered, while also taking home the first FIA World Championship for an American team in more than four decades.

Considered one of the cash-strapped teams in the GRAND-AM paddock just a few years ago, Starworks took on ambitions plans to undertake a dual-season program in the new FIA World Endurance Championship and Rolex Sports Car Series this year, both with brand-new equipment but high hopes.

Scoring podiums in seven out of the eight rounds, including wins at Sebring, Le Mans and Interlagos, Starworks took home the FIA WEC LMP2 title. (Photo: John Dagys)

Thanks to the backing of Venezuelan drivers Enzo Potolicchio and Alex Popow, the Florida-based team saw a massive transformation, which included the formation of a satellite WEC operation based in Wales as well as the hiring of key personnel for its upgraded Daytona Prototype program, which came off its first win in the 2011 season finale.

Straight off the bat, it was clear the rejuvenated Starworks squad meant business. Ryan Dalziel’s pole at the Rolex 24 nearly translated into a stunning win, but damaged rear bodywork following an off-course excursion by Lucas Luhr in the closing stages saw the Scot and co-drivers Luhr, Potolicchio, Popow and Allan McNish finish an agonizing five seconds behind the overall winners.

While Daytona was the race that got away, it ironically turned out to be the only major enduro Baron and co. didn’t win in 2012.

A race against the clock to build its HPD ARX-03b for the WEC season-opener at Sebring was rewarded with a debut LMP2 class victory in the Florida endurance classic. Dalziel, Potolicchio and Peugeot refugee Stephane Sarrazin recorded an impressive third place overall finish, only trailing the two LMP1 class Audi R18s at the checkered flag.

The highlight of the year, though, came three months later at Le Mans, when Dalziel, Potolicchio and Tom Kimber-Smith peddled their HPD to a stunning class victory, also in the team’s first attempt. While Kimber-Smith earned his third class win in only four starts, team owner Baron revisited the podium, but this time the top step, nearly a decade following his runner-up finish in GT2 as a driver.

Class wins at Sebring, Le Mans as well as the Six Hours of Sao Paulo, helped take Starworks to the FIA WEC LMP2 Teams’ Championship, in a near bullet-proof season that saw only one non-podium finish. It was also of historic precedence as the first World Championship for an American entry since Ford’s WSC title in 1968.

While not enjoying the same level of consistency in GRAND-AM, the team went into the history books as the inaugural winners of the Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, while also taking home the first-ever North American Endurance Championship, following podium finishes in all three rounds, including the victory at Indy for Popow and Sebastien Bourdais.

With a total of six wins and 16 podium finishes across three series in 2012, it was a storybook season on paper, but one of the most stressful for team boss Baron, who fought adversity on and off the track to keep his squad going.

Enzo Potolicchio at the wheel of the team’s Le Mans-winning HPD ARX-03b. (Photo: John Dagys)

The former Atlantic driver turned team owner saw his primary backer, Potolicchio, pull out of GRAND-AM mid-year following a controversial incident at Indy that saw Juan Pablo Montoya go unpenalized after knocking Dalziel’s championship-contending DP out of a podium finish under an apparent local yellow.

While Baron got both of his cars to the end of the Rolex Series season, with Dalziel finishing runner-up in the DP championship, there was friction behind the scenes in the team’s WEC program as well, that ultimately saw Potolicchio go his separate way for 2013, despite winning the World Championship together.

Even with some low points and challenging times, it did not detract from the level of success the team achieved, in what was a banner year for one of the sport’s true privateers.

That’s why it was a no-brainer for to award Starworks Motorsport with its “Sports Car Team of the Year” honors for 2012.

What will the New Year bring for Peter Baron and his hard-working gang? A two-car GRAND-AM effort is again in the cards, with the objective of winning the one race that got away, the Rolex 24.

Starworks also plans to continue in the WEC, with a to-be-announced LMP2 program. But it would be hard-hard-pressed to top their world-conquering 2012 season that put the quirky team on the map as one of the best in the world.

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