Tristan Vautier of Grenoble, France scored his second victory of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear season in Race 1 / Round 7 of a doubleheader at the 42nd annual GP3R at Trois-Rivières. Vautier started from the pole in his No. 5 JDC Motorsports / Cecibon / Circuit du Laquais Mazda and will start from the pole again in tomorrow's Race 2 / Round 8 by virtue of having set the fastest lap of the race today. Vautier's other victory, also from the pole, came in Round 2 at Barber Motorsports Park and he has maintained his lead in the championship with a quartet of top-5 finishes in Rounds 3 – 6. Vautier joins Connor De Phillippi and Sage Karam on the list of drivers with two wins so far this season.
"It was much hotter today so it was good to be at the front and not have to be in a battle on every lap," said Vautier. "I'm happy to be on the pole again for tomorrow's race, but all the top-4 cars are in the same place also, so I think the second race will be even more competitive and I must get a very good start. I'm fortunate to have a great team in JDC Motorsports and excellent sponsors who helped me get here, so I have all the tools, but to win two in a row you must have a little luck also."
Unlike most Star Mazda Championship races, particularly at this circuit, it was a race that finished in pretty much the order in which it began – among the top-6 qualifiers at any rate. Starting and finishing second in the No. 7 Juncos Racing / Programa Leilões Mazda was Brazilian racer João Victor Horto, winner of Round 6 at Mosport two weeks ago. St. Petersburg, Fla., racer Nick Andries, who started from the pole on the Milwaukee Mile oval and now has a quartet of podium finishes to his credit, started and finished third in the No. 81 Team Pelfrey / Lithionics Battery / GS610 Brake Fluid / Trademark Garage Floors Mazda.
Sage Karam, the Nazareth, Pa., native who won back-to-back oval races at Milwaukee and the Iowa Speedway, started and finished fourth in the No. 88 Andretti Autosport / MAZDASPEED / Comfort Revolution Mazda. Karam is the 2010 USF2000 champion and is racing in the Star Mazda Championship this season with scholarship funding from the Mazda Road to Indy. Connor De Phillippi, who won the season-opener at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and again at the Night Before the 500 on the Lucas Oil Raceway oval, started and finished fifth in the No. 11 Team Pelfrey / Justice Brothers Products / Trademark Garage Floors Mazda. And the youngest driver in the series, Californian Gustavo Menezes, started and finished sixth in the No. 28 Juncos Racing / Truecar / Safety Park Mazda.
Quebec racer Jérimy Daniel rose to the occasion of racing in front of a home-province crowd with a competitive drive in the No. 26 Daniel Racing / FixAuto / Sherwin-Williams Mazda, racing his way up from 13th on the starting grid to finish eighth.
The top-finishing driver in the Expert Series for racers 30 and older was Texan J.W. Roberts who qualified 11th and finished ninth in the No. 65 Team GDT/ Mazda. Also competing in the Expert Series is Larry Pegram, the noted AMA Superbike racer who races 4-wheeled rockets in his spare time. Driving the No. 72 AIM Autosport / Tampa Bay Jaw Surgery / Foremost Insurance Mazda, he was the last driver on the lead lap, finishing 10th overall.
The drama in the event was provided by Irish racer Patrick McKenna in the No. 48 Team GDT / Motorsport Ireland / Irish Sports Council Mazda and Brazilian driver João Jardim in the No. 39 JDC Motorsports / Shopping M Mazda. The duo qualified seventh and eighth respectively, and were having the hottest battle in the race until lap 13; they changed places twice during the lap and gave each other racing room, but both ran out of track on the infamous exit of Turn 1 and wound up in the tire barrier.