Edmonton, Alberta, July 23, 2011–In a twist of fate today on the runways of Edmonton City Centre Airport, young Canadian David Ostella and Jensen MotorSport experienced the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat-all within a five hour window.
The 19 year-old Maple, Ontario resident started the Edmonton Indy 100 Firestone Indy Lights race #1 from his season-best qualifying position ofsixth on the grid, only to fall victim to an early incident on Lap one, forcing him from the race, while his teammate Oliver Webb continued on to a third place podium finish.
As the race went green under cold ambient temperatures and the impending threat of rain, disaster struck almost immediately as Ostella and three other drivers were collected in a melee at the hairpin in turn five, ending their day early.
“It was so disappointing,” said Ostella. “There was great racing into turn one and the #16 Global Precast car was completely dialed in, but we got into the big breaking zone headed into five and someone must have gone in deep, and I was hit from the rear, and then Morad–who was running next to me–was pushed into the front of my car. Honestly, it’s one of the places on the track where you expect something to happen, but I am just so disappointed for the Jensen crew. They worked so hard all day with such a tight schedule to get me a great car, and I was so excited over our qualifying effort. It’s a hard emotional downshift.”
In a compressed schedule due to a full Friday washout, the team took to the track early this morning for a chilly practice session with ambient temperatures were a brisk and breezy 54 degrees with the track temperature only three degrees higher which made it difficult to get traction on the cold Firestone tires.
Qualifications and a few hours of sunshine brought more grip, warmer track temps and a better learning curve for Jensen and Ostella.
“My guys worked their butts off,” said Ostella. “We knew what we needed to do to get to the front, and they were able to get it done in the short gap we had between practice and quals. We were first out, and ready to go when they dropped the green. They did an amazing job.”
With only three minutes left in the session, the team made a quick wing adjustment and put on a fresh set of Firestones-which allowed the young Canadian to rocket out a fast lap of 1:23:9184 just before the checkered to land firmly in seventh position on the grid for the afternoon race. A post-qualification penalty on Team Moore driver Gustavo Yacaman produced an advantage and Ostella and Jensen MotorSport moved up one more position to start sixth.
“The track definitely had more grip,” he said. “Higher temperatures and more track activity gave us a much better racing surface.”
Despite the result today, Ostella was appreciative of the newly configured circuit and had much to say regarding its drivability.
“This is such a great racetrack! The fans can see everything from their seats and there are great passing zones to get a good run and create some action for the crowd. It’s a bit bumpy-but I am used to that from my background in karting.”
Tomorrow’s second half of the Firestone Indy Lights double header will go green at 10:30 am (Local) with grid positions being determined by fastest lap times.
Due to the fact that Ostella was unable to complete a full lap, he is anticipated to begin Round #2 from 14th position. The car merely suffered minor suspension damange and the #16 crew fully expects to have all repairs made and a race-ready car well in advance of the green flag.
“It was my first time here and I really hoped to have a better result for all my fans in my home country,” he said. “But we have another race to go tomorrow and we are just going to dig deep and drive hard and see if we can’t push the #16 car back up to the front tomorrow.”
David Ostella is Rookie in the Firestone Indy Lights Series and the only native Canadian competing full-time.