Lichfield racer Adam Christodoulou made up ground on rival Peter Dempsey in the Star Mazda Championship, despite a rollercoaster weekend.
Christodoulou was making his first appearance on a temporary street circuit across the Atlantic at the Grand Prix of Trois-Rivieres and had points leader Peter Dempsey in his sights.
The Molecule Labs JDC Motorsports driver started the weekend on a lofty note after topping the opening practice session on the 1.521-mile circuit.
“The first session on the Friday went surprisingly well, at first it was a bit daunting knowing that there is very little room for error, it’s a bit like the oval scenario, if you make a mistake then there’s a nice concrete wall to support you either side of the track. I took my time getting to know the place before I started pushing, at the end of session one I was battling it out for fastest lap, we put new tires on and we topped the charts.”
After making a few changes to the car, Christodoulou posted the second fastest time in the final practice session of the weekend.
But hopes of a pole run were dashed in qualifying when a red flag was brought out as championship points leader Dempsey made contact with the wall as Christodoulou was preparing to set his flying laps. He added:
“At the start of qualifying I was second out the pits and the drivers in the previous qualifying session were already producing times quicker than testing, so I knew the pace was going to be quick. We chose to go out on old tires for the start of the qualifying to get a base line before we put on new tires but unfortunately things didn’t quite go to plan.
“Unfortunately for me, my main rivals made contact, causing one of them to have a puncture putting him in the wall. By the time the track was cleared qualifying was finished. I wasn’t happy with qualifying, because I knew I had the pace to be on the front row but I was left in fourth position for the start of the race.”
Sunday’s championship battle started on pre-grid as Dempsey’s team failed to get his car out on time, forcing him to start from pit lane while the rest of the field moved up a position.
Christodoulou raced away at the start to jump into the lead by the second corner but an opening lap incident further back in the field forced him back into third place.
The Lichfield driver explained:
”Because we hadn’t completed the lap I had to give back the positions I had made up at the start, putting me back to third. I felt robbed. It was an extremely close race, there was a group of 6 cars all battling it out trying to get ahead of each other.”
Fighting an engine that was down on power in the closing laps Christodoulou was hanging on in third place when a restart on the closing laps presented an opportunity to gain another position. As the green flag came out on the final lap Christodoulou sought to move into second place.
But a philosophical Christodoulou explained that the move proved to be a costly one.
“There were only minutes to spare before the chequered flag dropped and we had one last restart with one lap to go, I tried a move for second place, but couldn’t pull it off allowing two cars past. I couldn’t believe it, I had third place and I made a minor error moving me back to fifth, I attempted to make at least one place up but the chequered flag was out and the race was over. The racing was so close and it showed. If anyone made a slight error they paid for it losing positions or not finishing.
“I had mixed emotions after the race, I was annoyed I didn’t make it on the podium, but I was happy to
finish the race and I gained valuable points in the championship so that there is only a 10 point difference in the championship now with three rounds to go. And for Trois-Rivieres itself the atmosphere was unbelievable, the crowds were packed, there were plenty of activities going on during the day and evenings of the race weekend.”
The series now heads to Mosport International Raceway in Ontario, Canada, for Round Eleven of the Championship on August 27-29.