Mosport International Raceway has been the site of several key moments in the early success of Hearn Motorsports. In 2004, the team owned by IndyCar star Richie Hearn (Henderson, Nev.) earned its first career Star Mazda Series North American Championship pole position and podium finish (third) at the Canadian track. Entering the 2005 event on the 2.459-mile, 10 turn road course, the second year team is excited to place international formula car standout Jay Howard (Basildon, Essex, England) in the No. 70 NewHoneys.com/ Hearn Motorsports entry. Joining Howard under the Hearn banner will be Brian Thienes (Huntington Beach, Calif.) in the No. 77 Thienes Engineering/ Hearn Motorsports Star Mazda. Thienes has competed all season, and a portion of 2004, with Hearn Motorsports and currently sits 20th in the overall championship and third in the Expert Series standings.
Jay Howard,made his presence felt at his debut Star Mazda event this weekend at Mosport International Raceway, qualifying on the front row and pulling away to victory in his NewHoneys.com Hearn Motorsports Mazda in Round Ten of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear during the American Le Mans Series Labour Day Weekend Grand Prix of Mosport. Robbie Pecorari, of Aston, Pennsylvania finished second in his SAI Hydraulics/Andersen Walko Racing Mazda and championship points leader Raphael Matos captured the final podium spot in his Ocean Tomo Racing Mazda.
With the victory Howard keeps alive an amazing streak, winning on his debut in every series he has entered. "This is a great start to my Mazda campaign. The car kept getting better over the weekend and I have to thank Hearn and the Hearn Motorsports crew," Howard said. "This keeps alive my record of winning my debut event in each of the four auto racing series I've competed in, starting with Formula Ford in the United Kingdom, Formula Renault, the USF2000 Championship and now the Star Mazda Series."
Howard's victory will also go into the record books as the first victory as a team owner for former Pro Atlantic Champion and IndyCar driver Richie Hearn. "A victory feels just as good from this side of the fence as it does as a driver," Hearn explained. "Jay drove an excellent race and never put a wheel wrong. This victory is a great thing for Jay's career and our team as we look to take things to the next level. Sam Schmidt, my team owner for the last few Indy 500's, came to me about a week ago and said I needed to put Jay into the car. We put everything together quickly and it paid off."
Pecorari, who came into the weekend tied for second place in the championship with James Hinchcliffe, found himself in the thick of the battle throughout the 28-lap event to capture second place and sole possession of second in the championship. "James and I started the weekend tied so when earned the pole position and the bonus point that comes with it I was a little concerned," Pecorari admitted. "I got a great start and was able to move into second place, fell back to third when Jay got past me, and then went wheel-to-wheel with James as we came into turn eight and was able to move into second. Once clear, the car was really good the first couple of laps and then I started pushing too hard coming through turn five onto the backstraight and the car got loose so I couldn't close the gap."
Third place finisher Matos, who kicked off the 2005 season with four victories out of the gate, was relieved to reach the podium this weekend after an incident during the final practice session on Friday would seriously damage his racecar. "During the practice session another car spun in front of me and hit me as I tried to avoid him," Matos said. "The crew had to work until 2AM to get the car back together and we had to make a guess on the setup as we didn't get time in the final practice to make any adjustments so I was pleased to qualify third. We made some adjustments based on qualifying, but the car was really loose on the start. The balance got better as the race went on and on the final lap I was able to get a good run on Hinchcliffe and get around him on the outside and into third place as we went into turn eight."
With ten of the twelve rounds complete, Matos' lead has shrunk to just twenty-five points as Pecorari continues to inch his way closer, with Matos and Pecorari having 387 and 362 points respectively. Hinchcliffe, of Oakville, Ontario, Canada, who qualified on the pole position in front of his countrymen, would battle oversteer in his Esso/Mobil 1/Noco/AIM Autosport Mazda and survive a lurid slide at 100 miles per hour in turn one to finish fourth and drop to third in the championship with 356 points.
In the expert series championship, for drivers aged 30-44, Micky Gilbert, of Golden, Colorado would score his fifth victory of the season in his Gilbert Engineering Eurosport Racing Mazda to lock up the championship with 167 points. With his closest competitors, Brian Thienes and James Malackowski, tied for second place with 124 points each, Gilbert has built an insurmountable lead with two events left in the season.
In the Masters Championship, for drivers aged 45 and older, former Masters Champion Doug Peterson would earn his fourth victory of the season in his 3-Dimensional Services American Speed Factory Mazda but remain in third place in the championship with 144 points. John Pew, pilot of the NVG Velocity Motorsports Mazda, would climb to the top of the championship heap with 154 points while John Faulkner, driving the Peregrine Motorsports entry, would recover from an off-track excursion but fall to second in the point’s race with 151 points.
The series now heads to Braselton, Georgia for the penultimate round at Road Atlanta during the Petit Le Mans weekend on September 27-30. Round Ten from Mosport International Raceway is scheduled to be broadcast by Speed Channel on Sunday, October 238 at 12:00PM Eastern Time.