FAIRFIELD, N.J., Dec. 11 - Andersen Walko Racing (AWR) announced today that Robbie Pecorari of Aston, Pa. and Pablo Donoso of Santiago, Chile will join Jonathan Klein of Long Grove, Ill. and Graham Rahal of New Albany, Ohio on its squad of drivers for the 2005 Star Mazda Series presented by Goodyear.
With today's announcement AWR rounds out its four-driver Star Mazda lineup, as Klein and Rahal signed with the team for 2005 in November. Team co-owners Dan Andersen and John Walko did not rule out running additional drivers on occasion too.
AWR is one of the most successful formula car teams in America. It won the Formula Ford Zetec team championship this year with drivers Andrew Prendeville and Adam Pecorari, Robbie's brother. In addition, Klein campaigned an AWR entry in the Star Mazda series in 2004 and earned that series' Most Improved Driver award.
Klein will be a sophomore in Star Mazda in 2005. Robbie Pecorari has driven in two Star Mazda races in the past but he, Donoso and Rahal will all be rookies in that series in 2005.
Klein and Robbie Pecorari are 17; Rahal will turn 16 on Jan. 4 and Donoso just turned 20.
Robbie Pecorari drove an AWR entry in the Star Mazda series' season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. in October. He qualified fourth, only seven-tenths of a second off the pole. Unfortunately he was hit from behind by another competitor at the start of the race, suffering left-rear suspension damage which forced him to retire from that event.
He also drove an AWR entry in a Star Mazda race at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga., in September. He qualified fifth for that event, ran in third for most of the race, and took the checkered in fourth place.
The younger of the Pecorari brothers also ran in two Formula Ford Zetec races in AWR livery at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May, finishing fifth and eighth. He also competed in two Zetec races for AWR at Road Atlanta in 2003, qualifying fourth and fifth.
He amazed his fellow AWR teammates at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. this May when he stepped into one of the team's Formula SCCA cars at the last minute to finish second in one race and win the other one in a weekend doubleheader.
A senior at Garnet Valley High School south of Philadelphia, Pecorari won the Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow Formula Dodge national championship scholarship award for 2004. He did the full Skip Barber national season this year too, winning one race at Mosport Int'l Raceway in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada and finishing fifth in that championship.
He earned the national ICA (100cc direct drive) karting point championship in 2003, recording five ICA victories in the Snap-on.com Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow national circuit. He began his karting career at age eight and won events on the national circuit in the Cadet category before moving into the Yamaha Junior and 80cc Junior Shifter classes and then on to the ICA and ICC divisions.
Pecorari's Star Mazda car will carry decals advertising SAI Hydraulics, J&J; Racing, Grand Prix Distributing and Lucky Designs in 2005 in addition to AWR.
"I think it's going to take consistency to win the Star Mazda championship," Pecorari said. "I'll try to win, but my goal will be a podium finish at every race and a top five at the worst."
"The way the team worked last year was great," he added. "We'll all work hard and try to help each other out and win some races. Jonathan and I helped each other out when we ran together this year, and hopefully Graham and Pablo can help out too."
Although he'll be a rookie in Star Mazda, Pecorari noted that he's driven on most of the races on the 12-date schedule while competing in Skip Barber events. "St. Petersburg will be new for everyone, and Watkins Glen will be new for me," he noted. "The ovals will be completely new; I've never been on an oval before, so that will be interesting."
Donoso is the son of driver Jorge Donoso and the protege of Formula 1 and IndyCar star Eliseo Salazar, the most famous racer from his native country, Chile. His campaign will be sponsored in part by Salazar's long-time sponsor, Cristal Beer.
Donoso competed in the European World Series by Nissan last year as the teammate to Brazilian Formula 1 driver Enrique Bernoldi, who is currently a test driver for the BAR F1 team. Donoso also ran the World Series Light series in Europe in 2003, winning one race.
In 2002 Donoso finished second in the Formula Renault Argentina national championship, a series in which he also competed in 2001. He also has experience in Formula BMW Junior events in Europe.
Like most of his AWR teammates, Donoso started his racing career in karting. He was the national champion of Chile in 1996. The following year he competed in karting events in Argentina, posting two podium finishes in four events.
The Star Mazda series is sanctioned by IMSA and televised on the SPEED cable TV network. Its 2005 schedule, which is subject to change, is as follows:
1. March 18, Sebring International Raceway, Sebring, Fla. (with ALMS)
2. April 2, St. Petersburg temporary street course, St. Petersburg, Fla. (with IRL)
3. April 17, Road Atlanta, Braselton, Ga. (with ALMS)
4. May 21, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio (with ALMS)
5. June 11, Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, N.Y. (with Grand American)
6. July 3, Pikes Peak Int'l Raceway, Fountain, Colo. (with USAC)
7. July 16, Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, Calif. (with ALMS)
8. July 30, Portland Int'l Raceway, Portland, Ore. (with ALMS)
9. Aug. 20, Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wis. (with ALMS)
10. Sept. 3, Mosport Int'l Raceway, Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada (with ALMS)
11. Sept. 30, Road Atlanta, Braselton, Ga. (with ALMS)
12. Oct. 15, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Monterey, Calif. (with ALMS).
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