Via IMSA NEWS
Even with the shaky weather Friday at VIR, the status remained pretty much quo through opening practice for the IMSA Prototype Challenge. The No. 9 JDC MotorSports Norma M30 LMP3 5.0L V8, winner of the last two races this season, set the pace in what became an abbreviated session due to heavy rain.
The 45-minute practice began with a wet track following a rain shower prior to the session’s start, but VIRginia International Raceway showed signs of drying as some cars tested the 3.27-mile, 17-turn circuit. Scott Andrews was the first driver to tour the course in less than two minutes, posting a lap of 1:59.776 (98.283 mph) in the No. 9 he shares with Gerry Kraut.
Soon after, the skies opened again and the cars sat idle for the last half of the soggy session. Only nine entries turned laps at speed, with Andrews more than four seconds quicker than the No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports Norma piloted by Kyle Kirkwood (2:03.780).
Prototype Challenge competitors will have a final, 30-minute practice session starting at 8:50 a.m. ET Saturday, ahead of qualifying at 11:20 a.m. Sunday’s race, timed at one hour, 45 minutes, streams live at 9:35 a.m. ET on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.
The VIR round is the fourth of six on the 2020 Prototype Challenge schedule. Naveen Rao and Matthew Bell, drivers of the No. 64 K2R Motorsports Norma, lead the standings by two points over Dakota Dickerson, who rides in the No. 54 MLT Motorsports Ligier JS P3 with co-driver Dom Cicero.
This upcoming weekend I will be again embarking on an F2000 Championship Series adventure. Piloting the Bruce Work entered RFR chassis, we again will be bringing a host of updates to the chassis. Our previous event, at the historic Watkins Glen, was a tumultuous one.
I crashed the car in Friday practice after an apparent brake malfunction. After replacing two corners and fixing a host of other issues we managed to get back on track for Saturday’s qualifying session. A 24th starting position lead to a 16th place finish in race 1. Sunday saw further adjustment to the car and the rewards were reaped. I qualified 16th place and drove to 8th in race 2.
I hope that these changes will result in a fast car, but we will have to wait and see. John Walko and I will be working diligently to improve the car all weekend, and I still hold the lap record at The Glen, so I hope for good things.
During the downtime between the two events we have made more changes. The VIR weekend, unlike the one at Watkins Glen, will provide us with plenty of track time. Notably, two full practice days are included.
This will be advantageous to us as we have seen less track time then the majority of the F2000 paddock as a result of our limited competition. This in mind, I hope that we can make some serious progress on the car. Moreover, due to a recent trip to VIR I have a good understanding of the VIR circuit.
All things considered, I am very excited to go to VIR!
TRAFFORD, PA (May 1, 2007) – John Walko Racing fielded just two cars at Virginia International Raceway in the third round of the Star Mazda Championship with regular drivers Russell Walker and Charles Anti again showing they have the speed to compete at the front of a very competitive field.
Anti placed highest in the race among the two JWR drivers but reaching that point did not come easily for the New York University freshman according to John Walko.
"Charles struggled a little at the start of the weekend compared to how well he has been doing to this point in the season. He is in the middle of finals at NYU now in addition to being on the road racing the last three weeks between testing and races at Houston and VIR. It has been a bit overwhelming but he was really getting back in to his groove in the final practice after qualifying twelfth. Unfortunately he crashed hard that session in a very fast section of the track."
In a rare occurrence for the defending Star Mazda Team Champions though, the team was not running their third car. The car was in the transporter fully prepared allowing Anti the chance to still compete in the race.
"Fortunately for Charles our third car was not running this weekend and was in the transporter ready to go, otherwise he would have missed the race. The crew was able to quickly convert the car to the setups from Charles' car and make the appropriate adjustments. I was a little nervous about putting a driver in a car in race conditions with no previous laps but Charles did a great job. He turned competitive laps and methodically worked his way through the field picking up 16 positions. Other than a small issue with the "shift without lift" that Charles was able to fix on his own on the fly the car was flawless off the trailer."
While Anti had the better finishing position, teammate Walker had a very impressive showing as well before his raceday was cut short by an engine failure.
"Russell was competitive all weekend. He and Eric worked well together again staying in the top four or five in practice then qualifying fifth. At the start of the race he picked up a few spots, moving to third and challenging for second. Unfortunately following a long yellow the engine went off song then a lap later blew up. It was just a really solid performance by Russell from the beginning of the weekend to the end."
To Walko, this group is really coming in to its own and is on the cusp of a breakthrough race.
"We are seeing more of these kinds of performances from Russell. He is just really getting up to speed quickly each week. That whole team is strengthening; the chemistry between Russell, Eric and Scott is really clicking. Although this result wasn't really what we hoped for, we still came away feeling it was a good weekend. He is becoming a really good student of the sport, always learning and listening and trying new ideas. He just gets better and better."
The maturation of the two young drivers is a point Walko is excited about particularly considering their background in comparison to other more experienced drivers in the field.
"Russell and Charles are both kids that didn't grow up on karts or do Pro racing before coming here. They are both continuing to make progress and are on par with where they should be. I think the experience level of the members of this team combined with the drive to succeed that these two have is what makes this program work."
The JWR crew has begun preparations on the three team cars for the upcoming west coast swing. Drivers interested in joining the defending Star Mazda Team Champions for the upcoming races or tests are encouraged to contact the team as soon as possible Upcoming plans include the fourth race of the season at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah followed by testing and the fifth race at Portland.
"It was an up and down weekend. We were disappointed with qualifying but starting twelfth would have beat starting at the back after the crash. It took the pressure off though and the race went as well as could be expected. It was fun to work through the field and a tenth place finish considering we had no time in that car was really good for the team."
Steve Dreizler, Engineer for Charles Anti
"Charles certainly was showing good speeds in parts of the race track and was putting it all together in final practice but unfortunately had an off at a very fast part of the track and crashed hard. Caleb and the team prepped the third car in short order since it wasn't being used, putting the set-up on from the other car and fitting everything for Charles. He started last and frankly did a great job. I don't think we could have asked for anything more. He salvaged everything possible out of the situation and earned a lot of points. The team needs to be commended as well for having that third car 100% ready to run when it came off the transporter. That kind of preparation is what wins Championships."
"It was another great weekend coming off of the momentum from Houston despite losing the engine. I think we are really making a name for ourselves, it's exciting! We still have good momentum despite the final result. In fact we were running solidly in third and battling for second when the engine quit. We showed everyone that we belong at the front for sure. Scott, Eric and I are all really clicking and building a lot of energy. I'm looking forward to getting back to Miller as we should be able to apply a lot of what we learned at VIR."
Eric Langbein, Engineer for Russell Walker:
"We were fast again. Russell, Scott and I all did our job to the best of our ability and we were proud of the result. Unfortunately the final standings do not reflect how strong we were but that was a result of circumstances outside of our control. I'm excited that we were able to show what we are capable of though and look forward to continue this momentum as we look toward the next race at Miller Motorsports Park. Russell is starting to think like a champion and a winner and is showing a lot of maturity, particularly considering the stout, experienced competition he is running against."
1 Dane Cameron
2 Ron White
3 Marco Di Leo
10 Charles Anti
22 Russell Walker
TRAFFORD, PA (March 1, 2006) – The John Walko Racing team made the most of testing at Virginia International Raceway recently in preparation for the 2006 STAR Mazda Championship season kick-off at Sebring, March 15-17.
Rookie of the Year contender Charles Anti tackled VIR’s North Course, turning in 400 trouble free miles over two days. The team charted a course of qualifying runs and full race distance simulations for their young driver and Anti responded by turning competitive lap times throughout the test.
Team owner John Walko was pleased with the development of Anti on the track as well as off as he forges a relationship with Crew Chief Sebastien Jubelin and Engineer Steve Dreizler.
“I was very impressed with Charles’ consistency and his ability to improve on his lap times all the way through the two days. It was a pleasure to watch Charles work with Steve and Seb so well. They should be an excellent combination for the season.”
The 2005 Skip Barber Eastern Regional Series Champion was equally as happy with the outing, “After this test I am feeling confident and comfortable with the car. We were able to run competitive times and consistently improve throughout the test, which bodes well for the future.” Anti continued, complementing his crew, “It’s a pleasure working with this team that John has put together, and I can’t wait to begin competition.”
STAR Mazda veteran Ross Smith was also on hand for the test and impressed the JWR organization. Walko is optimistic about having Ross onboard for the 2006 season as well.
“I think Ross would be able to work well with Charles as a teammate,” noted Walko. “Even though Ross is 19 years old he will be starting his 3rd season in Star Mazda. We think that in our environment Ross will improve on his previous results.”
The team now looks to the opening race to build on the success of their pre-season testing program. Walko credits the team’s hard work for the solid start, “Having gone through 2 successful tests it is gratifying to see that the crew has not skipped a beat at the track. They have done an excellent job preparing for the season and they are itching to get to Sebring.”
The team is seeking interested drivers to join JWR for the STAR Mazda series. Testing programs and full or partial race seats are available for the 2006 season. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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