Ohio-native Graham Rahal scored his second career race victory in the Verizon IndyCar series this past weekend at the MAVTV 500, at Auto Cub Speedway in Fontana California. Graham is the son of Bobby Rahal, an SCCA National Champion and Indy 500 winner, and currently drives for the team that bears his name.
Graham tasted Runoffs Gold in 2005 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, after a dominating performance behind the wheel of his Anderson Walko Racing Formula Atlantic. The then 16-year-old driver still holds the record as the youngest Runoffs National Champion in SCCA history.
In 2008, Graham scored his first win in the newly-merged Verizon IndyCar series at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Since that time Rahal has been a front-runner in the series, but was unable to finish in the top spot of the premier professional open-wheel series in the United States. The win pushes Graham to the fourth in the Championship.
On behalf of each of us at SCCA, membership and staff alike, we congratulate Graham Rahal on his win out in California. Keep up the good work!
JWR ALUM: STAR MAZDA PRODUCES A DIFFERENT KIND OF GRADUATE – ENGINEER KATE GUNDLACH SIGNS WITH IZOD INDYCAR’S HVM RACING
John Walko Racing Alum moving up the ladder!
Official Star Mazda Press Release
Pacoima, CA / May 7, 2012 – Proving yet again that the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear is one of the most effective and prolific motorsports development programs in racing today, the series is proud to announce that yet another graduate has made the big jump… directly from Star Mazda to IndyCar.
It’s a different kind of graduate this time, however. Not a driver, but rather Star Mazda Quality Control Engineer Kate Gundlach, who will immediately join HMV Racing as the Data and Electronics Engineer (DAG) for Simona De Silvestro and the #78 Entergy Nuclear Clean Air Energy Lotus Dallara. This move creates a rare pairing of female driver and female engineer, both of whom achieved substantial success climbing the open-wheel ladder and are poised for success at the top level of the sport.
“I worked with HVM during the Long Beach Grand Prix weekend and was very pleased when they offered me the DAG position on Simona’s car,” says Gundlach, who moved from Vancouver B.C. to Indianapolis to take the job. “I was very impressed with Simona and the HVM team, with their level of professionalism and presentation. It’s a huge change, moving from working for a series to working for a team, but the professional – and personal – education I received while working for the Star Mazda Championship has prepared me to hit the ground running in IndyCar and be confident that I can contribute to Lotus HVM Racing’s success.”
Gundlach, during her almost three years with the Star Mazda Championship (2009 – 2012), was responsible for working with the teams and series management to produce a continuous mechanical and electronic (including data systems) upgrading of the Pro Formula Mazda race car; an evolution designed to improve safety, reliability and speed while maintaining the series’ focus on placing driver talent ahead of big budgets.
“We’re very happy for Kate, but not surprised,” says Star Mazda founder and President Gary Rodrigues. “She’s a very accomplished engineer who has done great work for our series, so it’s inevitable that she, just like the drivers who compete in our series, is moving up the ladder. Star Mazda has always been a launching pad for drivers, crewmen, engineers and even teams moving up to the next level. That’s our main mission, and it’s always a pleasure to watch our graduates succeed. She will represent us well in IndyCar.”
A native of Pittsburgh, PA, Gundlach was raised in a motorcycling family, finally transitioning to open-wheel racing via the Formula SAE program while working on her mechanical engineering degree at the University of Pittsburgh. A trip out to the Beaver Run Motorsports Complex for a race led to a meeting with principals of the Andersen/Walko Star Mazda team – and a job offer, starting immediately.
“When I started there, I worked upstairs in the loft, with a cardboard box as a desk,” she recalls. “That was one of my earliest lessons about racing at the professional level; you have to be willing to start at the very bottom and do whatever needs doing. Over the course of my time with them I learned not only about racing, but also about working with a team, working with data systems, writing contracts, doing budgets, creating sponsor proposals and a dozen other things. I was definitely thrown into the deep end, and loved every minute of it.”
Gundlach won Star Mazda’s prestigious Performance Friction ‘Crewman of the Year’ award when the Andersen/Walko team made its series debut in 2005. When the team split up, she continued working for Walko Racing (while simultaneously graduating from Pitt with a Mechanical Engineering degree) from 2006-2007 before moving to the newly-formed Goshen Racing Star Mazda team in 2008. That team only lasted one year and she was invited to join the Star Mazda Championship at its headquarters in Pacoima, CA as series Engineer, a position that also included project management and trackside support.
“Timing is everything,” says Lotus HVM Technical Director Tom Brown. “We had an opening available in our Engineering department and Kate came highly recommended. We had a chance to meet at Long Beach and everything clicked. Having her on board will clearly strengthen our group.”
About Lotus HVM Racing
HVM Racing was founded by Keith Wiggins and is based in Indianapolis, Indiana. The 2012 season marks its eleventh year of competition since forming in 2001. Since its inception, HVM Racing has earned six victories, two pole positions, 22 podiums, 40 top-five finishes and 97 top-tens. The team also earned “Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year” honors with current driver Simona De Silvestro in 2010. HVM finished fourth and third, respectively, in the Champ Car World Series in 2006 and 2007, and earned drivers Mario Dominguez and Robert Doornbos Rookie of the Year honors in 2002 and 2007, respectively. Lotus HVM Racing can be found online at www.hvmracing.com. Follow the team on twitter at www.twitter.com/HVMRacing and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HVMRacing.
About Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear
For 2012, the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear will be again be a major part of the Mazda Road to Indy. The 2012 schedule currently includes 17 races on 10 weekends, most with IndyCar. Rising stars from around the world will compete on road courses, street circuits and ovals in front of more than a million fans as they compete for prizes valued at $1.5 million, including a scholarship to move up and race in the 2013 Firestone Indy Lights series. Drivers 16 and older are welcome to compete and the Star Mazda Championship also features the Expert Series for drivers 30 and older. The Star Mazda Championship features standing starts, wheel-to-wheel racing at 160 mph and budgets a fraction of other top open-wheel ladder series. For more information on the Star Mazda Championship please visit www.starmazda.com.
At 19 years, 3 months and 2 days, Rahal becomes the youngest winner in IndyCar history at the time, breaking a record previously established by Marco Andretti at Sonoma in 2006.
After overcoming a spin early in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Rahal passed Ryan Hunter-Reay, who was driving for Rahal’s father, Bobby, to take the lead after a Lap 64 restart and led the final 19 laps through the checkered flag for his first IndyCar victory.
Rahal’s victory is also notable as it is the first victory for Newman/Haas Racing post-reunification and comes in his first start in the reunified IndyCar Series.
After competing as a rookie in Champ Car’s final season in 2007, Rahal missed the 2008 IndyCar opener March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway after crashing his car in a test, the team lacked parts to fix it.
“It can’t get any sweeter than this,” Rahal told ESPN after the win. “Especially after last week, not racing. Certainly, this makes it a whole lot sweeter.”
Graham is one of our alum! Graham won the SCCA National Championship Runoffs in the Formula Atlantic category in 2005 racing for Anderson Walko Racing.
TRAFFORD, P.A., Jan. 5 - Andersen Walko Racing's owners Dan Andersen and John Walko announced today that the team is splitting up into two race teams: A newly formed Andersen Racing and John Walko Racing effective Feb. 1.
The change was made to better reflect the team's ownership.
Andersen Racing is based in a new, 7,000-square-feet, state-of-the-art shop in Fairfield, N.J. John Walko Racing will remain in the former AWR and JWR facility in Trafford, PA.
AWR fielded cars for Robbie Pecorari, Graham Rahal, Pablo Donoso and Jonathan Klein in 2005. They posted four victories, 17 podium finishes, 22 top-five finishes and four poles. Pecorari finished second in the championship and earned its Rookie of the Year award. Rahal finished fourth for the season, while Donoso was ninth and Klein was 13th.
John Walko Racing will begin testing in February 1-2 at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, SC and is seeking interested drivers looking to enter the STAR Mazda series.
JWR has put together a rigorous testing schedule that has them visit Kershaw, VIR (Feb. 23-24), Mid-Ohio (April 26-27) and do private oval track testing (TBA) to prepare for the upcoming season. 2006 season testing programs and full or partial race seats available. Contact John@johnwalkoracing.com for more information.
Andersen Walko Racing's four full-time drivers from the 2005 season have some exciting plans for 2006.
The team’s two drivers with the best results in the Star Mazda Championship, presented
by Goodyear, last year will both advance to the Champ Car Atlantic Championship presented by Yokohama in 2006.
Yesterday Robbie Pecorari of Aston, Pa., who finished second in the Star Mazda championship last year and earned its Rookie of the Year award while driving for Anderwn Walko Racing(AWR), said “As of now we have made the decision to run the Champ Car Atlantic series for 2006. We have not signed anything yet, but hope fully in the next few weeks we should be able to announce which team we’ll be running with and all of the details.”
Pccorari broke the track record at Arizona’s Firebird Int’l Raceway in November while testing an Atlantic car with Brooks Associates Racing.
Graham Rahal, who finished fourth in the Star Mazda Championship last year driving for AWR, has already announced his plans to compete in the Atlantic series.
The New Albany, Ohio driver will run with Mi-Jack Conquest Racing, and yesterday he announced the car would be sponsored by Gehl, the Wisconsin-based light construction and agricultural equipment manufacturer. Last year, Rahal became the youngest driver ever to win a pro StarMazda race when he was victorious at Portland lnternational Raceway at the age of 16. He’ll revisit that track this year in the Atlantic series.
The Atlantic SeaSon opener is April 9 on tbe streets of Long Beach, CA.
Rahal will start his first Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida on Jan. 28 too. The 17-year-old is one of four drivers of the Tafel Racing Porsche GT3 Cup No. 74 that set the fastest time for the GT class in testing at Daytona earlier this month.
Another ex-AWR driver, Adam Pecorari, Robbie's brother, who ran with the team in the Formula Ford Zetec series in 2004, is also expected to compete at Daytona. He drives a Rehagen Racing Mustang Cobra SVT in the Grand-Am Cup Series.
Pablo Donoso of Santiago, Chile has moved on to the new-generation USAC Silver Crown division. He is the driver of a Cristal Beer-sponsored Riley for Racing Teams Inc.,which is owned by Eliseo Salazar and Johnny Vance. His 2006 season opener is this weekend at Phoenix InternationalRaceway. He finished ninth in Star Mazda points last year with AWR.
AWR's Jonathan Klein of Long Grove, Il. will drive in the lndy Racing League's Indy Pro series (formerly the Menards IInfniti Pro series) in 2006 as a member of the team that won the lndy Racing League lndy Car championship for the last two years, Andretti Green Racing.
Klein drove for AWR in both 2004 and 2005. He was the Star Mazda series' most improved driver of 2004, and he finished 13th in that series last year. His best finish was second in the season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California in October. His 2006 Indy Pro season opner will be March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida.
"We're proud of all of our drivers, and we hope that the lessons they learned while running with us have been instrumental in their success" said AWR's Dan Andersen, "Our drivers for 2006 - Brad Jaeger, Gerardo Bonilla and Ramiro Scuncio - have some pretty big shoes to fill, but we'll help them as much as we can.''
The 2006 Star Mazda seasont opener is March 17 at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida.
FAIRFIELD, N.J., Jan. 18 - Andersen Walko Racing's Dan Andersen is pleased to announce that he has signed Ramiro Scuncio of Argentina as the team's third full-time driver for the 2006 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear.
Scuncio, 16, joins Brad Jaeger of Cincinnati and Gerardo Bonilla of Orlando, Fla. on the driving squad for the Fairfield, N.J.-based team for all 12 races in 2006. Other drivers are expected to race for the team, widely regarded as one of the best in North American formula car racing, in selected events.
Scuncio comes to American racing from the Chilean Formula 3 series, where he won a race last year in his rookie season.
He is managed by former IndyCar and Formula One driver Eliseo Salazar, who also arranged to have Pablo Donoso drive for Andersen Walko Racing last year. Donoso, of Santiago, Chile, was victorious at one of the Star Mazda races at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. in 2005 while driving for AWR, posting two other podium finishes and three poles last year too. He is competing in the USAC Silver Crown series in 2006 in the hopes of catching the eye of a NASCAR team owner.
"It will be a big step for Ramiro to follow in Pablo's footsteps this year because the Star Mazda series is quite different than what Ramiro has done in the past, but both he and his family are very committed to the effort," said Salazar, who was at Phoenix International Raceway with Donoso for this weekend's USAC Silver Crown season opener at the Copper World Classic. "We expect for Ramiro to run in the top 10 this year, and learn enough so that he can contend for the Star Mazda championship in 2007. He's looking forward to our next test at Road Atlanta very much."
"Relationships are very important in racing, as they are in all other businesses, and it's nice that Eliseo is again endorsing the work we do by bringing another driver to our team," noted Michelle Kish, team manager.
Scuncio's signing followed a successful test at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla. recently. That track will hold the 2006 Star Mazda season opener March 17 as a support event to the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race.
"We were all very impressed with Ramiro at the test, and we're looking forward to an exciting season," Kish added.
Rossella Manfrinato will be Scuncio's engineer. She was Jonathan Klein's engineer last year for his second season with AWR. Klein will drive for Andretti Green Racing in the Indy Racing League's Indy Pro Series this year.
PITTSBURGH, PA (WEDNESDAY, DEC. 14) -- Pittsburgh-area team owner, John Walko, has announced the re-formation of his race team, John Walko Racing, following a three-year involvement with the Andersen Walko Racing program. The team will contest the entire 2006 Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear, and will be run out of a new shop in Trafford, Pennsylvania, just east of Pittsburgh.
"We are excited about our move to a more modern and efficient facility and are extremely pleased to announce that we have been able to keep our crew intact," Walko said. "This is the same group of engineers, mechanics, and support staff that has helped us achieve so much success over the last few seasons. We feel great about the team's chemistry and are encouraged to see it continue with the renewed John Walko Racing effort."
Last season in the 2005 Star Mazda championship, Andersen Walko Racing drivers Robbie Pecorari, Graham Rahal, Pablo Donoso and Jonathan Klein amassed four wins, four poles and 17 podium finishes. Pecorari finished second in points and won Rookie of the Year. Rahal completed the season 4th in the championship series with Donoso and Klein finishing 9th and 13th respectively.
Returning to John Walko Racing as race engineers are Steve Dreizler and Eric Langbein. Lead mechanics Scott Gates, Sebastien Jubelin, 2004 Zetec "Mechanic of the Year" winner, and Caleb Stream, 2002 Zetec "Mechanic of the Year" and 2005 Star Mazda "Crew Member of the Year" will also continue with the team. Other returning crewmembers include Kate Gundlach, data acquisition and parts, Ray Riggin, transporter driver and logistics, Russ Sant, fabricator, mechanic, and logistics, and Staci Walko, business manager.
Walko started driving in SCCA Club Formula Ford in 1994 before opening his own prep-shop in the mid-1990s. Since 1999, as a crew chief and engineer in SCCA Formula Ford, Formula Continental, Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship and Star Mazda, his drivers have amassed 11 pro and 22 amateur wins, 37 pro and 12 amateur podiums, and 13 pro and 17 amateur poles. His drivers finished runner up in points in both the Star Mazda and Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championships, and have won the SCCA Valvoline Runoffs a total of four times. In addition, Walko's cars have also posted 2nd and 3rd place finishes at the Runoffs. Walko received "Crew Chief of the Year" and "Engineer of the Year" awards in the Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship.
Past drivers that Walko has been affiliated with include IRL IndyCar Series competitor Paul Dana, Star Mazda race winner Graham Rahal (son of three-time CART Champion and Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal), 2005 Star Mazda Rookie of the Year and race winner Robbie Pecorari, American Le Mans Series driver Guy Cosmo, Grand-Am Cup driver and Formula Ford 2000 Zetec race winner Adam Pecorari, Formula Ford 2000 Zetec race winner and championship runner-up Andrew Prendeville, and Formula Ford 2000 Zetec race winner and NASCAR Elite Division SW Tour stock car competitor Tom Dyer.
For 2006, John Walko Racing is currently in negotiations with one driver for the 2006 season and is actively seeking two additional drivers for a three-car effort.
Robbie Pecorari won this year’s Racing for Kids®/ Star Mazda Pro Series Driver Performance Award. The award goes to the top performing Racing For Kids® racer in the Star Mazda Series races at Road Atlanta and Mazda Raceway tracks.
Racing For Kids®, founded in 1989 in Detroit, is an international charity dedicated to using motorsports to focus public attention and funding on the health care needs of children and the institutions that care for them.
As part of the program, Racing For Kids ® drivers visit sick children in children’s hospitals wherever they race. These driver celebrity visits are an important part of each child’s recovery therapy.
The Racing for Kids®/ Star Mazda Pro Series Driver Performance Award is given to the driver who earns the most points from the aforementioned two races: Sept 30 at Road Atlanta and Oct. 15 at Mazda Raceway (Monterey, CA).
For those two races, points were awarded on a sliding scale for first to 15th place finishers. Winners received 20 points, second place 18 with two point intervals to sixth place where the intervals declined by one point. A 15th place finish received one point.
Pecorari took the award when he won the Road Atlanta race and finished third in the Mazda Raceway event. Rahal took second in both races. Hinchcliffe won the Mazda Raceway event, but took fifth at Road Atlanta.
Pecorari and Hinchcliffe also won $1000 each for their race wins, receiving $500 of that personally with $500 going to the Children’s Health Care of Atlanta (formerly Scottish Rite) and Lucile Salter Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, CA.
JWR ALUM: Graham Rahal captures his first National Championship taking the Formula Atlantic class win at the 2005 SCCA National Championship Runoffs
Race 8: Formula Atlantic Graham Rahal, of New Albany, Ohio., captured his first National Championship Friday, taking the Formula Atlantic class win at the 2005 SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in his Anderson Walko Racing Swift 014. Dan Selznick, of Phoenix, Ari., and David Wilcox, of Lake Dallas, Texas, completed the top-three.
Having led every session and set a new lap record in qualifying, Rahal entered the race as the odds on favorite to win. In what would prove to be the most difficult part of the race, Rahal's Anderson Walko Racing Swift 014 car misfired at the start, causing the 17 year-old to lose several positions entering the esses. Capitalizing on the opportunity, Selznick led Mirl Swan through the opening turns.
Quickly recovering from the poor start, Rahal moved into second on the second lap, passing Swan on the back straight. Having fallen back to third, Swan's race ended later in the lap, when he spun off-course. Posting lap times up to two seconds quicker than any other driver, Rahal soon caught Selznick, passing for the lead on lap five. Steadily pulling away from Selznick, David Wilcox and Keith Lively, the battle for fifth became the most heated amongst the leaders.
Having moved into fifth, Bernie Sunier went off-course on lap nine, allowing Ben Beasley to take the position. Two laps later, Beasley spun exiting Thunder Valley, becoming stuck in the grass, relinquishing fifth place to Ryan Spencer-Smith. On lap 17, the final change in top-five occurred, when Lively pulled into the pits and retired with a mechanical failure.
Setting a new race lap record, Rahal crossed the start/finish 43.01 seconds ahead of Selznick, to capture his first SCCA National Championship Runoffs win, 30-years after his father, racing legend Bobby Rahal won the Formula B National Championship. "I had a misfire at the start," said Rahal. "When I came out of the paddock the car misfired, but it cleared up right away. At the start it did it again and I thought, 'oh, no!', but it cleared up again and we were OK. I definitely had the fastest car out there and I knew that I could keep up. I took my time and caught up to Dan. I got a good run on him and passed into the Keyhole. Then I just kept careful, building my lead and trying to stay out of trouble."
Spencer-Smith, of Nappa, Calif., finished fourth, and Burke, of Rumson, N.J., completed the top-five.
By Shelli Messer, Pitt News
July 6, 2005
NORTH VERSAILLES, Pa. – Starting out in a sport — or a career — is usually difficult, but for Kate Gundlach, all it took was dialing one phone number.
Actually, it was a little harder than that for the 21-year-old Allison Park, Pa.-native, but not that much. Motorsports have always been in Gundlach’s blood. Both of her parents’ families love motorcycles.
“I’ve grown up with racing,” Gundlach said. “I have been around it longer than I can remember. It’s been accepted into the family. I fell in love with it, though, when I joined the University of Pittsburgh’s Formula [Society of Automotive Engineers] team.”
That love for racing sparked her to pursue a future in the sport.
“I wanted to get into auto racing, but I didn’t know where to start,” she said. “I was handed John Walko’s card at a Formula SAE event, and I took it straight back to my dorm room. I checked out his Web site and gave him a call.”
Walko is co-owner of a formula car racing team that competes in several series, including fielding four cars in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear for drivers Graham Rahal, Robbie Pecorari, Jonathan Klein and Pablo Donoso.
“I thought to myself, ‘That’s what I want. I have to be in this,'” Gundlach said. “All it took was a phone call. I had my interview, and [Walko] told me that I’d start the next day. I was so excited.”
As part of a co-op program with Pitt, Gundlach, now a senior mechanical engineering student, is in her second year as an intern for Andersen Walko Racing based in North Versailles, Pa., and Fairfield, N.J. She holds the title of data acquisition specialist and works with the Pi Research system.
A data acquisition specialist downloads computer-generated information regarding the car itself, such as steering, speed, throttling, ground speed, engine diagnostics, and where and when the driver is shifting gears. Gundlach then either looks for what problems the car is having or comments on what could be improved.
For Walko, hiring Gundlach was an easy decision. He believes she’ll leave with the experience needed to take her career to the next step.
“Racing looks different from the outside,” Walko said. “I want her to take with her the knowledge of how a race team works. She will go knowing what the real thing is.”
Two years after being hired, Gundlach has already had the opportunity to work for a professional racecar team, a privilege most mechanical engineering students will never experience. She also has been given the chance to work with Rossella Manfrinato, one of the most accomplished female racing engineers AWR hired this spring.
“Oh my word, it’s amazing,” Gundlach said in response to working with Manfrinato. “She has so much experience and knowledge. I have learned so much from her, and I’m so lucky to be working with her.
“She has such an in-depth knowledge of every element of the car,” Gundlach continued. “She’s always thinking of the next step. She’s such an all-around awesome person.”
Gundlach loves the people who surround her at AWR. Even as a woman, she feels she and Manfrinato are treated with the utmost respect.
“It’s easy to forget that I am a woman with this team,” Gundlach said. “It’s easier having Rossella around. She has so many credentials that everyone knows and respects her. As for the team, they are wonderful. I treat each of them like a crew member, and they treat me like a crew member. They are so easygoing that it makes them easy to get along with.”
As if balancing school and a full-time job isn’t hard enough, Gundlach has also been a member of Pitt’s Formula SAE team for the last three years. She is the leader of the group responsible for the drivetrain in the team’s car.
“SAE is an organization that includes around 150 teams worldwide,” Gundlach explained. “The Formula SAE events allow college students to engineer, design and drive small, formula 500-size cars. It is a one-race event, but the car must finish other competitions such as endurance, autocross, accelerations, etc.
“I really don’t know how I balance it all,” Gundlach said. “I tend to think I handle it well. I can’t focus on things too long, so having lots to do makes it easier to go back and forth. I love what I do. I try to be as involved as possible while keeping up with school. It motivates me when I know that I can learn more. Plus, caffeine helps a lot.”
Gundlach, who has one more year of engineering studies, isn’t sure where she will end up next.” No matter what direction she decides to make, she knows racing will be involved.
“I would like to get my master’s degree, but I have to find the money and the time,” she said. “I want to be a racecar engineer and work my way up the ladder.”
Of course, Andersen Walko Racing would love to see Gundlach stick around once she graduates.
“She has what it takes to work on a race team,” Walko said.
“I have more confidence from working here [AWR],” she said. “You learn more about yourself with racing. What can I say? Racing is my life.”
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