Trois-Rivières Street Circuit
Friday, August 3, 2012
Vautier Leads Opening Day at Trois Rivieres
by Amy Konrath
TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec -- Three drivers with plenty of experience on the street course in Trois Rivieres led the opening day practice at the Grand Prix of Trois-Rivières.
Tristan Vautier, who won one of the two Star Mazda races in 2011, led the way with a lap of 58.1293 seconds on his final lap in the 45-minute practice session. The Frenchman's lap was .0864 of a second faster than Belardi Auto Racing's Peter Dempsey.
Dempsey, a former Star Mazda winner at GP3R, recorded a lap of 58.2157 seconds. Jorge Goncalvez, who finished on podium in the 2010 Star Mazda race on the course, finished third at 58.2960 seconds.
Last year's race winner and current points leader Esteban Guerrieri was fourth fastest at 58.5576 seconds. Sebastian Saavedra, who holds a one-point lead for second place in the championship over Vautier, was fifth at 58.5318 seconds.
TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/SSM w/Curb Agajanian): "This year, the tracks I've been to, for sure it's a help [to have had success here before]. It's pretty similar to Star Mazda, the Firestone Indy Lights car is a lot on fun on this track, you have to look for traction. The track is pretty narrow and the Indy Lights car is a little bigger, so there's a few adjustments to make, but so far it's been okay."
[On the spread-out weekend schedule]: "It's kind of more relaxed, it just changes your approach a bit. Tomorrow's going to be pretty busy, usually we have qualifying in the morning and race in the afternoon, tomorrow we have a practice then qualifying and it will be like Long Beach, so it just changes your routine a little bit. The hours you have to hit, and that kind of stuff, but it's not a big deal.
PETER DEMPSEY (No. 9 Belardi/TruFuel): "The morning session probably cleaned up the track for us because on the track walk it certainly looked sandy. But fortunately for us we didn't practice until 2 p.m., and it was pretty clean for us. Same as last year here, temperatures are very hot and it's a little tricky. I just got plenty of water in, but in the long stints in the race it's going to be tough, but overall the track feels similar to last year. They resurfaced the back straight which helps a lot for braking into Turn 4 or 5, so that helps there braking, but then the apex is a different surface, so you have to take that into consideration. Overall, the car on the track feels similar from last year. The Belardi guys put together a great car again out of the box. It's nice to be in a position where you can roll off the trailer fast, that makes the weekend go a lot smoother. So thanks to the guys for that, and obviously with the new sponsor for the last two races with TruFuel, I'm happy that I keep putting the car up at the front.
JORGE GONCALVEZ (No. 4 Belardi Auto Racing) : "It's great to be here in Trois-Rivières. I love it here and it feels great to be in P3. We've been working really hard all year, and it's nice to see some results. We had to make some changes after the first few laps [of practice], but the car is much better now. We are definitely headed in the right direction, and hopefully we continue to improve for the next practice and qualifying. Have to thank everyone on the team for their hard work...I hope to bring them a good result on Sunday."
ESTEBAN GUERRIERI (No. 11 Pistas Argentinas/SSM w/Curb Agajanian): "The track is fine. The times are the same as last year, 58s, low 58s, so it looks similar, better grip on the braking area where they have repaved and it was fun. [The repaving area] is more of an overtaking zone now because you can kind of manage better your braking."
[On the spread-out schedule]: "You have more time, if you are in trouble, then it's better. If you are in good shape, then you don't mind. But so far we are not too bad, we have to work a little bit, so it's good to have a full weekend.
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 27 Team AFS): "This was my first contact with the track at Trois-Rivières. It is a very interesting circuit. It is short and very active, which makes it physical. We struggled a bit at the start of the session, but managed to fight back at the end. There is still some work to do on the No. 27 AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport car. I feel very positive. As always, the Sam Schmidt guys are the ones to beat. I think we have a little bit of a disadvantage since neither Carlos nor I have raced here before. There is still another practice session to go. We will keep working and I look forward to us having a good qualifying session."