MONTEREY, CALIF. (September 9, 2012) - The long trek from Baltimore last weekend to Monterey, California, for Rounds 15 and 16 of the Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear paid off in style as Team Pelfrey's talented young English racer Jack Hawksworth secured the championship crown on Saturday with his eighth victory of the season. The Florida-based organization then put the equally coveted Team Championship beyond reach of its rivals today, with one race remaining in the season, when Hawksworth, Petri Suvanto and Gustavo Menezes all ran strong races to finish among the top eight at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
"We had a great weekend," said team owner Dale Pelfrey. "I'm just fortunate. We have some really good people. Geoff (Fickling) is heck of an organizer, a heck of an engineer, and all of his people are really dedicated to making it happen. We have some pretty fine drivers, too. We've had some ups and downs this year but we ended up with a great weekend. This is fun. I really enjoy this series, and the whole Mazda Road to Indy program is a great idea. It's just great for young drivers. I'm looking forward to next year already!"
The weekend didn't start out too auspiciously when Menezes was taken out by a spinning car very early in the first practice session on Thursday. Indeed all three drivers struggled to find pace on the opening day. Come qualifying, however, Hawksworth rebounded to snatch his record-extending 11th PEAK Performance Pole Award of the season. He then led throughout the 30-minute race, holding off a determined late challenge from Gabby Chaves. Sage Karam, Hawksworth's closest rival in the points table, qualified a scant 0.006s slower but faded to seventh by the finish, which meant his championship quest was over and Hawksworth's title was assured.
A poor start dropped Suvanto from third to sixth, where he remained until Lap 16 when he profited from a mistake by Karam to finish fifth. Menezes moved up impressively from 11th on the grid to sixth at the finish.
Hawksworth started third on Sunday and immediately moved up to second behind Chaves. The 21-year-old from Bradford, Yorkshire, England, chased after Chaves, with the pressure of the championship lifted from his shoulders, but had to be content with second - his 12th podium finish of the season.
Menezes leapt from eighth to sixth and remained in contention with the