Atlantics and Star Mazda titles to be decided in final races

By Andy Darley

CalendarSunday, September 27th, 2009

 
 

Both the Atlantic and Star Mazda Championships will be decided in their season-ending races at Laguna Seca after all the title contenders managed podiums this weekend.

Simona de Silvestro retains a narrow lead in the Atlantics after jumping her closest rival John Edwards at the start and coming home second behind Jonathan Summerton.

And Ireland’s Peter Dempsey dominated the Star Mazda field to take a fifth season victory ahead of Conor Daly. He holds a comfortable series lead but Englishman Adam Christodoulou battled back from sixth to finish third and keep his hopes alive.

Summerton, a possible candidate for the USF1 team, won his third race in four starts and moves ahead of team-mate Edwards in the Atlantic Championship title hunt.

De Silvestro, seeking to be the first woman to win a major open wheel championship, leads the standings by seven points from Summerton with Edwards a further three points back. The trio have won every race this season between them.

Britain’s James Winslow qualified ninth and finished seventh, a performance that earned him the $2000 bonus awarded to the driver gaining the most places for the third time this season.

But Greg Mansell, making his return to the series after leaving at the end of 2008 to compete in World Series by Renault, retired early on with an engine fire.

In Star Mazda, Dempsey was fastest in testing, practice and qualifying, and was never led on his way to race victory. A sixth-place finish at Laguna Seca is all he needs to become champion.

Behind him Daly was safe from the charging Christodoulou, who took advantage of fellow Englishman Richard Kent’s clash with a back-marker to start a push for the podium late in the race. He climbed from sixth to third, but ran out of laps before he could catch Daly.

He trails Dempsey by 429-444 points in the championship, with 45 points available at the final race. No other driver is in contention for the title.

The two American open wheel development series were running at Road Atlanta in support of the ALMS showcase Petit Le Mans race. The prize for the Star Mazda champion is a fully-funded Atlantics drive for 2010, while the Atlantics champion wins the budget to come to Europe and compete in GP2.

However, there are question marks over whether the prize for the Atlantic Championship is fully funded, as it depends on contributions from team owners and the series has a lower-than-planned car count.

The two series will decide their champions at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 10th and 11th.

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