French racer Tristan Vautier, who won from the pole in Round 2 at Barber Motorsports Park, has scored his second pole of the season for the first round of this weekend's Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear double-header at the 42nd annual GP3R at Trois-Rivieres. Vautier, the championship points leader since Round 2, turned a time of 1:01.542 in his No. 5 JDC Motorsports / Cecibon / Circuit du Laquais Mazda. The time is just 0.2sec shy of the lap record of 1:01.341 set by Texan Rusty Mitchell in 2009 but marks a return to form for the young native of Grenoble, France, who has had to content himself with a quartet of top-5 finishes since his last visit to the top step of the podium.
"Qualifying here is very important, although there are good braking zones for passing into Turn 1 and Turn 6, so there should be a lot of action in the race," said Vautier. "The JDC Motorsports team worked very hard to find a tenth of a second here and a tenth there, which turned out to be a good thing because the top-five cars are all within half a second of each other. If we all manage to get through Turn 1, it should be a really exciting race for the fans, and it will be a major thing to the drivers because your fast lap in Saturday's race will set your grid position for Sunday's race."
Starting from the outside of the front row will be Brazilian racer João Victor Horto, winner of Round 6 at Mosport two weeks ago, who turned a lap of 1:01.790 in the No. 7 Juncos Racing / Programa Leilões Mazda. Third will be Florida racer Nick Andries at 1:01.793, just .003 sec. off the front row. Starting next to him on the outside of Row 2 will be Sage Karam, the 2010 USF2000 champion and winner of the Mazda Road to Indy scholarship to race in the 2011 Star Mazda Championship. The Nazareth, Pa. native turned a lap of 1:01.844 in his No. 88 Andretti Autosport / MAZDASPEED / Comfort Revolution Mazda.
Rounding out the top-5 is Californian Connor De Phillippi. Currently second in the championship points battle, De Phillippi, the 2009 Skip Barber Pro Series champion who moved up to the Star Mazda Championship in 2010 courtesy of scholarship funding from the Mazda Road to Indy, turned a lap of 1.01.971, placing all five of the top qualifiers within half a second of each other.