Star Mazda winner Adam Christodoulou has been describing the events of the weekend that saw him drive to a victory in the series’ final race at Laguna Seca – and with it the championship.
The two-time BRDC Award nominee went to the US to race in the Mazda-backed developmental series this year after winning the Formula Renault UK title in 2008.
His season-long rival Peter Dempsey looked set to take the title after earning pole position in the final race at Laguna Seca, needing only a modest finish to triumph while second-place qualifier Christodoulou had to win.
But the “Irish Steamroller” suffered an incident-packed event that saw him bumped to the back of the field, stage a strong recovery and then get knocked out of the race. As he did so Christodoulou took a race-winning lead.
Re-live it all in the new champion’s own words:
“I was screaming in the radio…”
“We came into the weekend in a bit of a hole but we never gave up and the whole team kept pressing on throughout the weekend. We had built up a large enough points lead that a minimum of second place was guaranteed so I could focus all my efforts on attacking for the victory and doing everything possible to climb the podium.
“As I came out of that last corner I could see my team hanging over the wall waving me home and I was screaming in the radio as I crossed the finish line to take the title. It’s the best feeling in the world, knowing that you’ve completed something you have been working so hard for all year long.”
Qualifying: “This was not good…”
“Things had been looking really well in qualifying as my team-mate Alex Ardoin and I were exchanging fast laps and as time was winding down I was on top of the charts. With two minutes to go I was still fastest and looking strong for the pole position and everything was well until Peter produced a time two-hundredths faster than mine.
“This was not good. He had just extended his lead another point going into the race meaning I had to win and he had to finish ninth or worse for me to grab the championship. This was really frustrating for me as I knew two-hundredths was nothing, faster than you can blink an eye.”
Lap one: “It’s a risky corner for a pass…”
“Alex was leading the race and by the time we had got to turn six we had already pulled a gap. Alex ran wide going up the hill towards the corkscrew and I thought about passing but it’s a risky corner for a pass and there’s a big chance of making contact with how tight the corner is. This exact scenario happened to Peter Dempsey as Joel Miller went for the overtaking move on the 1 lap into the cork screw and they made contact. Peter spun and dropped to last place before rejoining the circuit.”
Running second: “I went off course sliding towards the barriers…”
“Things were looking up for me, but at this point I had no clue on what was happening behind me so I was pushing in second place and made a slight mistake in turn six myself two laps later. I went off course sliding towards the barriers but dragged it back on track not losing any positions. I caught Alex back up and I could see Caio behind me, the perfect scenario knowing I was safe with my team-mates either side of me.”
Dempsey’s final crash: “In a way I felt more pressure…”
“We got to turn two and the yellow flag was being show for a car off course, as I was exiting the corner there was the white, orange and green car of Peter Dempsey. I was shocked and on the next lap round my crew radioed in telling me all I had to do was finish. I couldn’t believe it, throughout the whole year Peter and I had been battling for the championship crown and there he was on the edge of the track.
“In a way I felt more pressure now, knowing it was down to me. Before I was just racing for the win, knowing it was down to Peter deciding where he was going to finish that would decide the championship, but now it was even more important than ever for me to finish.”
JDC MotorSports: “It’s not just about one driver, it’s about a whole team…”
“I can’t thank the JDC MotorSports crew enough for all their efforts this weekend and over the season and am proud to have been a part of this team that captured the Overall and Master Class Championships as well as the Team Championship. I’ve got to thank all the crew, and the drivers for an incredible year, it been a pleasure working with them all.
“I felt like the whole JDC team just gelled, there was never any tension throughout the whole team, we all got on famously. The best thing is we didn’t just race with each other, we all worked together, we travelled together, went out together and completed 2009 together. It’s not just about one driver. It’s about a whole team, and that’s what I had backing me for us to win this championship.
“Specifically I need to thank John, Katie and Sophie Church; Rick Cameron, my engineer; Dave Hopple, my mechanic; Mike Guasch and Molecule for supporting me this year, and capturing the Masters Class Championship; Gerry Kraut, part owner of JDC motorsports, for becoming Vice-Champion in the Masters class; my team mates Alex Ardoin, Caio Lara, and Chris Miller; and Gary Rodrigues and everyone from the Star Mazda Championship for an awesome year.”
Afterword: “Well done to Peter Dempsey, it’s been a fun year…”
“I’ve also got to say, well done to Peter Dempsey; it’s been a fun year pushing each other along the way, battling with him for the title. It’s definitely been a hard season and it was unfortunate for him to finish the year this way, I hope to see him back racing soon.”