Junior Open Wheel Talent

News and Views on Drivers Chasing Open-Wheel Stardom

Hawksworth and Scuncio win at Barber Motorsports Park

by Ryan Stringfield
Posted April 2, 2012 at 9:00 pm Star Mazda

Martin Scuncio (22) takes the checkered flag in Round 4 of the Star Mazda Championship at Barber Motorsports Park with Jack Hawksworth in tow. (photo: Eric McCombs)

If you’re looking for a competitive junior formula series to follow this summer, look no further than the Star Mazda championship.

Three different winners in the first four races pretty much sums it up. The drivers are hungry.

And fast.

Jack Hawksworth became the Series’ first repeat winner on Sunday, cruising to a 6.9-second margin of victory in Round 3 after starting from pole position at Barber Motorsports Park. In Round 4, Martin Scuncio earned his first career Star Mazda win overtaking Hawksworth on Lap 3 while aggressively navigating the undulating and scenic Alabama circuit.

The weekend’s opening race saw Hawksworth grab the hole shot into Turn 1. By the fifth lap, the talented British pilot led by 2.125 seconds over Sage Karam who worked his way past Scuncio in the opening laps after starting third.

The gap continued to build throughout the race despite the top-seven drivers running in the 1:22 range. After 10 laps, Hawksworth had the edge by 3.651 seconds. With 10 minutes remaining he upped his advantage to five-seconds despite several consistent laps from Karam. At race’s end Hawksworth’s lead was over six seconds. Gabby Chaves was third with Scuncio and Round 1 winner Connor De Phillippi rounding out the fast five.

“The team gave me a great car,” Hawksworth said. “It was good from start to finish and I was just able to pull a gap at the beginning and then manage it throughout the race and pull out the victory.”

Farther back in the field Gustavo Menezes advanced from 10th to finish seventh behind teammate Petri Suvanto. Juan Piedrahita finished eighth and Diego Ferreira was ninth. In the closing laps Stefan Rzadzinski made a move for 10th, securing his third straight top-10 finish. Ashley Freiberg followed making a nice pass for 11th after starting 14th.

Following the IndyCar race, the drivers returned to the track for Round 4. Hawksworth started from pole but Scuncio worked his way into the lead early and held on, unfazed by pressure, crossing the stripe 0.651 seconds ahead of Hawksworth. De Phillippi rounded out the top three for his fourth-consecutive top-five finish.

“I’m very happy for myself, my team and all the people who’ve helped me over the years,” Scuncio said. “This one is for them. I’m so excited to have my first win here at Barber.”

With just under four minutes remaining in the race a caution flag waved as both Zach Meyer and Bruno Palli dropped to the rear of the field. The drivers bunched up anticipating a fierce two-lap finish.

The top-three remained unchanged when the race went back to green.

It appeared Karam would finish fourth until Menezes pulled off an all-or-nothing slide job entering Turn 5 following the restart. The move secured a fourth-place finish for Menezes who started eighth. The daring pass came moments after he worked past Chaves on the outside of Turn 12.

“I actually was sideways into the braking area but it worked!” Menezes said of his pass on Karam.

Contact from the back would end Karam’s day allowing Piedrahita into the top five.  Chaves, Suvanto, Ferreira, Rzadzinski, and Camilo Schmidt finished 6th-10th, respectively. Schmidt started the race 16th.

After four races, Hawksworth leads the drivers’ championship with 115 points. De Phillippi is second with 86 and Scuncio is third (78).

The Star Mazda drivers return to action May 26 for the “Night Before the 500” at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.

For up-to-date news and views on karting and junior formula racing follow @JOWT on Twitter or follow on Facebook.

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