Saint Petersburg Street Course
Monday, March 26, 2012
Tveter Learns a Great Deal in His Star Mazda Debut
by Linda Mansfield
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Rookie Ryan Tveter certainly got an indoctrination into the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear Saturday and Sunday at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
After he was punted from behind in the early stages of Sunday’s race the 17-year-old from Oyster Bay, N.Y. had the staring role in the doubleheader’s most dramatic accident. Luckily he was not injured when his car barrel-rolled through the air and into the outside retaining wall in Turn 1 of the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street course and then burst into flames from an oil fire.
Prior to his dramatic — and quick — exit Tveter had been off to a rousing start. He nailed the standing start on Sunday and had already passed four cars and was sizing up the fifth one when the accident occurred at the start of lap 3.
“My standing start was great today! I was flying,” said Tveter, a student at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Conn. “The car was great!”
Then trouble struck as the 21-car field headed down the frontstretch and into Turn 1.
“I was going down the mainstraight, and another driver was behind me but not really close,” Tveter said. “I checked my mirrors again and I had the line going into the turn. It was my corner. I hit my brake marker, turned in and all of the sudden I was in the air [from the impact of the other driver hitting his car in the rear].
“I barrel-rolled and then I hit the outside wall hard. The car caught on fire then. But I got out really quickly and I have no injuries. In terms of a crash it looked big but it really wasn’t that bad.
“I’m obviously disappointed but there was nothing I could do about it,” he said philosophically. “I really want to thank the team for a great weekend. The car was perfect and I felt like I could have taken a lot of positions in the race.”
Less than 24 hours earlier Tveter made his series debut in the first half of the St. Petersburg doubleheader. He started 14th and completed 14 laps before he pulled off course when he thought his No. 33, which carried advertising from the team’s primary sponsor, General Datatech, L.P., was experiencing an engine problem.
It was all a great learning experience.
“I learned a lot this weekend,” summarized Tveter, who will concentrate on his academic studies now before returning to the racing circuit in July. “I’ll take what I learned here and apply it when I get back with the series at Toronto.”
His engineer, Remi Lanteigne, was impressed with Tveter’s performance both in front of and behind the scenes.
“What I was most impressed with was how Ryan and I were able to communicate and improve on our car’s set-up throughout the weekend,” Lanteigne said. “His post-session debriefs of how the car is handling are deeper and more precise each session we work together. We went from a base-line set-up on Thursday and made a really big change that we had developed together in testing for our set-up on Sunday because we were both confident in how it would work. He definitely was flying. His standing start on Sunday was like a veteran would have done too. I’m very impressed with how fast he learns.”
The races will be broadcast on a to-be-determined date on the Velocity network and on ESPN International.
Fans can follow Tveter on Facebook and Twitter while his Web site is being revamped. Additional information is available on the series’ Web site at StarMazda.com and Team GDT’s Facebook page.