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2003 Star Mazda Series North American Championship - Round 6
Submitted by SuperUser on Monday, August 18, 2003 - 11:36am

Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada. August 16, 2003. They stopped the power for a time this weekend in Toronto but there was no stopping Luis Schiavo who powered his way to his second consecutive victory, and third of the season, in Round Six of the Star Mazda Series North American Championship at Mosport International Raceway. The Caracas, Venezuela, native has taken charge of the championship points race, building an eleven point lead over Michael McDowell with three events left in the championship.

Starting from the pole position, Schiavo drove away from the field with his Racers Edge Motorsports building almost a twelve second lead by the halfway-point, even with a spin in turn six failed to halt his run to the victory. “Even with the lead I was pushing the pace to keep building the gap with the rest of the field and just went in a bit too hard,” Schiavo explained. “It was no big deal as I was able to get back on track right away. The crew at Racers Edge gave me a great car once again and now we move to Road America and keep fighting for the championship.”

While Schiavo was checking out up front, a tremendous battle for the next few podium positions was brewing, as a freight train of seven cars, led by Moses Smith for most of the race, was rolling around the 2.5-mile road course. Running nose to tail throughout, the race was a battle of wills for the determined group of drivers, with Smith and Michael Potekhen locking up the final podium spots ahead of Michael McDowell, Brian Thienes and James Goughary, after a hectic few laps that saw them all trading positions as the laps wound down.

“That was an awesome race,” Smith exclaimed afterwards. “I wasn’t the fastest car out there today but I just kept fighting. Potekhen and McDowell were probably quicker on the front side of the course and I was quicker down the back section. Our lap times were close in the end but it was an adventure out there. Once again thought the Team Tomlin HASA Pool Products team has handed me another podium car.”

Potekhen, who has suffered more than his share of bad luck this season, was thankful to score his first podium finish of the season in the Eurosports Racing Mazda. “That race had to be one of the most fun races I’ve had,” Potekhen said. “Moses, Michael and I were all going for the second place and despite a bit of rubbing as we fought for space, we were all able to bring the cars home. Finally reaching the podium is nice because everybody at Eurosports has worked so hard this season, with the podium under our belt now we can focus on claiming a victory in the last three races.”

McDowell, who entered the race tied for the championship points lead, fought his way back from ninth on the grid after an incident in qualifying to run second briefly when Potekhen and Smith tangled in turn five, was disappointed to have his podium streak ended. “I think we had a car that could’ve challenged Schiavo today but I made a mistake in qualifying and I had to start farther down the grid than would’ve liked. I have to thank everyone at Star Race Cars for giving me a great car and MMI Karting, Mega Metals, Western Titanium, Sparco, and my new sponsor this weekend HDT for giving me the opportunity to race here, now I’ve got to fight my way back to the front.”

After starting on the front row, Brian Thienes was satisfied with a fifth place finish in his first full season of Star Mazda competition. "I'm feeling great right now," Thienes said. "My crew chief Gary Peterson did a great job preparing the car for me. This weekend has to go down as a success for me to be running with these guys up front in my rookie season. I had a great seat to watch Moses, Potekhen and McDowell all fight for position and I learned a few things just watching them that I hope to be able to use at Road America."

Despite a series of incidents during the practice sessions around the challenging circuit the entire 23-lap event was run without a full course caution, the second consecutive race to do so. The only serious incident occurred on the final lap as Tom Nastasi, who had worked his way up to fifth after starting fifteenth, spun on the entry into turn three and left Matt Downs with nowhere to go. “Coming into three the back of the car just came around on me and I was left looking up the hill as Matt came towards me,” Nastasi commented. “I was tapping the brakes hoping to avoid contact but there wasn’t enough time.”

The contact would knock both drivers out of the race, making them the only two drivers, out of the twenty-three that took the green flag, to finish off of the lead lap.

With three races remaining, Schiavo now holds an eleven-point lead over McDowell, while Smith sits an additional seventeen points behind in third place. Alan Rudolph moves into fourth overall, dropping recently crowned West Coast Red Line Oil Series Champion Mike Anderson falls to fifth after finishing fifteenth in a race that featured a wild ride through the gravel early in the event.

Round Seven of the Star Mazda Series North American Championship will be held on August 21-23 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

For more information on the Star Mazda Series please contact Gary Rodrigues at (818) 686-3350 or visit

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