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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 Claims Dominant PC Win at Belle Isle 2015


June 1, 2015: Starworks Motorsport was back on top at the ‘Chevrolet Sports Car Classic presented by Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers’ at Belle Isle Park last weekend when the driving duo of Mirco Schultis and Renger van der Zande claimed the PC class win in the #8 Martini liveried Oreca Chevrolet FLM09.

The fourth round of the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, 29-30 May, was a flawless weekend for the Fort Lauderdale squad who unloaded a perfectly prepped car to immediately post the fastest times in both morning practice sessions, in the wet and dry, without putting on new tires until qualifying on Friday afternoon.

Mirco Schultis achieved his best ever qualifying position to sit on the second row of the grid in third for the start of Saturday’s 100 minutes enduro. When the lights went out the opening lap saw plenty of turmoil. As cars from all classes scattered over the front straight ahead of Mirco he got hit very hard and lost the left rear of the 8 car’s floor and part of its sidepod. Despite the damage, the team decided to keep Mirco out and he was able to keep position, close to the leaders, and drove an impeccable stint from then on.

A full course yellow and the pace car came out just as the minimum time was reached. Mirco pitted and Peter Baron’s team performed a faultless pit stop and service, which included pulling out broken carbon bodywork parts lodged in to the car. With Renger van der Zande now behind the wheel of the #8 Oreca the team was able to make up a position in the pits and re-join the action behind the 11 car of Bruno Junqueria in third.

The last hour of the race saw sporadic rain showers with the track puddling up and drying out, producing a chaotic sprint finish. Renger expertly passed the 11 car which then spun on the following lap trying to keep pace in turn 1, collecting the 52 car to bring out the penultimate full course caution.

Shortly after the restart, Renger passed the #38 Performance Tech Motorsports for the lead and never looked back. He pushed hard to produce a massive lead whilst managing the 8 car’s Continental tires and despite a late yellow bringing yet another wet restart with about 10 minutes to go, took Starworks Motorsport’s first win of 2015.

Mirco Schultis, #8 Starworks Motorsport:
“This was my first race on a street course and I loved it. I was incredibly pleased to put our car on P3 in qualifying and was very happy with my stint in the race. Being a Chevrolet enthusiast myself, racing with a Chevy engine and winning the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic Race in Motor City is just amazing.”

Renger van der Zande, #8 Starworks Motorsport:
“There was a lot going on! Changing conditions made it very exciting on this street track. I loved it, from the first meter out of the box and we ran in P1 most of the time. Mirco did a great job and I reckon this was his best race of us driving together. The team gave me an amazingly fast car and the ride was one big pleasure. We have a great team of people at Starworks and that was evident in a very fast pit stop. So thanks to all of the crew and it was an honor to drive the car home to victory lane.”

Peter Baron, Team Owner, Starworks Motorsport:
“It was really cool to see Mirco drive on his first street course. That was, no question, the best we have seen him ever drive. Renger shined during his specialty of driving on a wet track with slicks to bring home our first win of the year. All parts of the team performed perfectly – the crew with the prep work and pit stops, the drivers with the speed on the track and no bad luck for us, finally! I have to say seeing the car cross the finish line as the winner after the first three races of the season with terrible luck was a relief rather than pure joy. But it did put tremendous wind in our sails and we cannot wait to get back on track and go after the Watkins Glen Six Hour win.”

Starworks Motorsport is currently fifth in the Prototype Challenge Team Championship with 116 points. Mirco Schultis and Renger van der Zande are joint sixth in the Prototype Challenge Drivers’ Championship on 90 points.

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Win at Petit Closes Rollercoaster Year for Starworks


October 7, 2014: There were tears of joy and relief when Starworks Motorsport claimed the PC class win with its #8 Martini liveried Oreca Chevrolet FLM09 in 17th annual ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta last weekend.

The Fort Lauderdale based squad has concluded a difficult year by finishing third in both the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup and the inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, with Dutch driver Renger van der Zande ending his first season as runner up in Prototype Challenge class and team mate Martin Fuentes, in the sister #7 Bomberg Official Starworks car, close behind him in third.

The triple race winning driving duo of Renger and Mirco Schultis were joined by Alex Popow for the 10-hour enduro in Georgia, with Martin, Ryan Eversley, Adam Merzon and John Martin coming home a commendable fifth in class in the team’s sister 7 car at the chequer of the 2014 season finale.

The #7 Starworks race challenge commenced with Martin Fuentes pulling an excruciating triple stint; two hours and 15 minutes of drive time to ensure that he would receive Championship points for the race. Adam Merzon was next to jump in to the cockpit to complete his first racing laps, and a solid double stint, in a Prototype Challenge car. Unfortunately, Adam got collected by a GT towards the end of his run which cost the 7 car a few laps.

“It was great to see Ryan Eversley in one of our cars and he did a great job cranking off fast laps and keeping us in contention,” Peter Baron, team owner said. “Considering his very limited time testing in practice, Ryan showed solid pace and the whole 7 car crew did an awesome job; it ran the 10 hours flawlessly and when it was all over we were happy to secure a top-five finish for the two PC rookies.”

The weekend did not run smoothly for the 8 car, with technical issues setting them back during free practice and qualifying. An all-nighter by the team on Friday ensured that the car was ready for the race on Saturday morning, however it was to start from the back of the 51-car grid.

“Our awesome crew only managed three hours of sleep on Thursday and then pulled an all-nighter trying to find a mysterious electrical gremlin that was not allowing our 8 car to even start!” continued Peter. “There are an unbelievable range of emotions when you go from thinking you’re not even going to make the race at 4.00am to the car running flawlessly and winning one of the toughest races of the year. Our drivers also did a fantastic job and put us in the perfect position to do so.”

With three-hours left on the clock on Saturday night Peter decided to completely change the 8 car’s race strategy – a gamble that made all the difference to the outcome of the race. “We were praying for it to go green the rest of the way. We knew after our final stop, with 45 minutes to go, we were the only car at that point that could make the finish on fuel, so we managed our pace to ensure that when the lead cars pitted, they would come out behind us.

“Renger did a fantastic job of keeping the gap where it needed to be to the 8Star car, right at the 30-second mark. Naturally we were worried when Sean [Rayhall] had a dramatic lap with 17 minutes to go, so we pushed to build a gap big enough for us to be ahead when he made his final stop. We knew the 52 car was close, even with the yellow, but once the race went green with only a few laps to go, it pitted immediately and Renger came on the radio and said “The 52 car is pitting! We are leading!” It was unbelievable. I was definitely watery eyed after this win. I have always been a huge fan of the Petit and to get a win there in our first PC attempt is fantastic, especially in the manner of how we did it!”

Renger van der Zande, #8 Starworks Motorsport, said, “It feels amazing to win this race, which was a real thriller. We had all kinds of trouble throughout the weekend and when the car got fixed at 6.00am on race day we were fastest in warm up. It was not easy when my right headlight gave up and my vision was very poor in the dark. Most of the corners are right-handers, so I was guessing my steering-in points most of the time. Overtaking also became a big challenge as the drivers couldn’t see me coming from behind. Being in the car for over six hours was tough and a great challenge at the same time. The Starworks team did a perfect job and I am very happy to win together with two top team mates, Mirco and Alex.”

However, the year started on a very different note for Peter Baron’s team. The Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona back in January saw the unsuccessful return to the Prototype class for the team’s #78 Starworks Riley-Dinan, and a motor failure and fire at the end of the race put the #7 PC car out of action for the 12 Hours of Sebring. After a move back to a Honda HPD power train, the #78 Daytona Prototype made its come back at Road America, but with very little testing and an early race retirement, Peter decided to park the project until 2015. His first foray in to Prototype Challenge racing this year with two Oreca Chevrolet FLM09 vehicles, however, saw increasing success as the season unfolded.

“It has been an amazing season with Starworks for me. We achieved six podiums including three wins and I also had some great results in Europe as well,” Renger added. “It was a year where we [Starworks] have had many problems and many successes at the same time, but everything peeked at the right moment. Finishing second in the championship is a good result for me, but there is room for improvement! I am enjoying American racing very much; it’s highly professional with spectacular formats. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mirco for being a great team mate and Peter, plus all the Starworks guys, for having a great season together!”

Peter Baron concluded: “It has been a fantastic year; getting our drivers to 2nd and 3rd in the championship and we’re ready to go for the top spot next year. Finishing the season with wins at three races and podiums at six is an accomplishment we are quite proud of, especially as Prototype Challenge is one of most competitive classes in the world. We can relax for a little bit and enjoy the end of the season, but I am already calling tracks to work on our fall testing programs. We had an awesome year, but we are already planning on making 2015 even better.”

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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:


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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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