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8Star’s fight and determination to the end pays off at the 82nd Le Mans 24 Hours

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8Star Motorsports showed the determination and resilience needed to finish fourth at the 82nd Le Mans 24Hrs at Circuit de la Sarthe this weekend (14-15 June).

Despite missing out on a lot of running during Wednesday and Thursday’s (11-12 June) practice and qualifying sessions, 8Star Motorsports were able to qualify 42nd overall and eighth in class to position themselves in a strong position ahead of the world’s most physically demanding endurance race.

When Saturday arrived – the day the whole world of motorsport had been anticipating -  Paolo Ruberti was the first to pilot the orange Ferrari 458 Italia and straight away impressed on the opening few tours of the 13km Circuit de la Sarthe.

Climbing three positions by the close of the second tour, Ruberti consistently lapped the world famous circuit with times that rivaled class leaders, and by the 90-minute mark, had positioned himself an impressive 33rd overall and fifth in class and closed in on a podium position, only for his hard earned work to be later undone. The Italian driver ran wide at Arnage and suffered a left rear puncture, but was fortunate enough to crawl back to the pits for a fresh set of Michelin rubber and rejoin the race.

Just as Ruberti rejoined the race, the heavens above opened, which left Le Mans resembling a river more than a race circuit.

Many drivers slowed to a snail’s pace due to running on slick tyres, before a heavy collision between the #81 Ferrari 458, the #3 Audi LMP1 and #8 Toyota LMP1 on the Mulsanne Straight called for the deployment of the first Safety Car of the weekend.

After 40 minutes of Safety Car interruption, as race marshals worked tirelessly to sweep the circuit clear of debris, the race was resumed with 22 hours remaining and Ruberti running 13th in the GTE Am class.

At the three-hour mark of the 24-hour race, Ruberti darted into the pits for a full service, which meant handing the reigns of the 8Star Ferari over to fellow Italian, Gianluca Roda.

The 55-year old carried Ruberti’s momentum forward and looked to make up the time lost to the tyre puncture and Safety Car, as he climbed to seventh in class as the sun began to set over Le Mans, leaving an orange picturesque glow over the circuit.

With the track constantly evolving as more rubber was laid down and track temperatures fluctuated, Frankie Montecalvo jumped into the drivers’ seat to open his Le Mans 24Hrs account and the first of the team’s night shift.

With the darkness of night now upon the teams and drivers, Montecavlo settled down for a long, lonely stint ahead, when clutch issues struck their Italian machinery, which lost them nearly three laps to the class leaders and potentially their hopes of a podium finish.

The team’s resilience showed in handfuls as they returned to the track with Ruberti, who was quick to carve this way through the field and moved up to third in class, before another unfortunate tyre failure hampered his running.

As the sun began to rise over the hills of Le Mans, Roda replaced Ruberti to continue in the race of nutrition.

The clock continued to count down and all three drivers circulated the famous Le Mans, when with two hours remaining, the GTE Am leading #95 Aston Martin came to a halt upon exiting the pits, but was fortunate enough to carry regain power and continue in the lead.

At the same time, the #88 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR was handed a 45-second penalty, which would demote him to third in class and the chance of a podium finish for 8Star Motorsports beckoned.

The team continued to chase down their class rivals, but were unable to snatch a podium position as they crossed the line a very impressive 24th overall and fourth in the GTE Am class after completing 330 laps.

Throughout the incredibly demanding 24-hour race, 8Star Motorsports showed the determination needed to succeed in the world’s toughest motor race, which is much about reliability than race pace, and can leave Le Mans with their heads held very high.

Speaking at the end of the race, Frankie Montecalvo said: “It seems fourth has been the story of my season, but given where we were on Wednesday during practice, it was an amazing result for the team! We fought up until the very end and can be very proud of what we have achieved.”

For more information on 8Star Motorsports and its racing activities, please visit thewww.8starmotorsports.com website, ‘like’ the team’s Facebook page or follow@8starmotor on Twitter.

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8Star running strong in 82nd Le Mans 24Hrs as it reaches the six-hour mark

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8Star Motoring continue to impress in the excitement filled 82nd annual meeting of Le Mans 24Hrs at Circuit de la Sarthe and have the pace needed for a podium finish as the race reaches the six-hour mark.

Starting the hugely demanding 24 hour race 42nd overall and eighth in the LM GTE Am class, Paolo Ruberti was first to pilot the orange Ferrari 458 Italia and straight away impressed.

At the close of the second tour of the 13km Circuit de la Sarthe, Ruberti had climbed the leader board to position himself 39th and closing in on the tail of fellow Ferrari driver, Andrea Bertolini.

Averaging a speed of over 200kmh, drivers are required to give one-hundred percent when behind the wheel, but must also manage their fuel loads of tyre wear, a task that Ruberti was able to complete successfully during his opening stint.

As the clock reached the 90-minute mark and Ruberti climbing to a high of 33rd overall and fifth in class, the Italian driver ran wide at Arnage and encountered a left rear puncture to his 458 Italia.

Fortunately, the experienced driver was able to crawl back to the pits for a set of fresh rubber and released back onto the track to compete in the remaining 22-hour race.

An unexpected heavy downpour left a lot of the fast sections of the track resembling a river more than a race circuit, as many drivers slowed to a snail’s pace on their slick tyres, before a collision between a Ferrari 458, the #3 Audi LMP1 and #8 Toyota LMP1 on the Mulsanne Straight called for the deployment of the first Safety Car of the weekend.

Due to poor visibility, the Toyota and Ferrari arrived on the scene at full-speed and were unable to slow enough as they approached the slower cars, and in turn aquaplaned into the barriers and collecting the innocent Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Marco Bonanomi.

After 40 minutes of a Safety Car interruption, the race was resumed with less than 22 hours remaining with Ruberti running 13th in the GTE Am class, before the Safety Car was deployed again minutes later due to another downpour.

The Safety Car continued to lead the procession until conditions had eased, which lasted several laps before allowing racing to get back underway, where Gianluca Roda took over the reigns from Ruberti.

As the clock counted down and drivers started to settle in to the endurance race, Roda continued to consistently lap the famous la Sarthe, and at the four-hour stage had positioned him and the 8Star team 34th overall and seventh in class.

With the sun beginning to set over the 82nd Le Mans 24Hrs and cars casting long shadows, Frankie Montecalvo jumped into the seat as the race reached the sixh-hour mark.

8Star Motorsports are currently running 34th overall and eighth in the LM GTE Am class as the team begin to settle down for the long night shift ahead.

For more information on 8Star Motorsports and its racing activities, please visit thewww.8starmotorsports.com website, ‘like’ the team’s Facebook page or follow@8starmotor on Twitter.

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8Star come good at la Sarthe after problematic practice and qualifying at the Le Mans 24 Hours

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The Le Mans 24 Hours motor race held annually since 1923 is regarded as the toughest challenge that motorsport has to offer and 8Star Motorsport and their resplendent orange Ferrari 458 GT AM car rose to the challenge displaying all of the qualities needed to succeed at Circuit de la Sarthe.

Practice and Qualifying for the 24 hour race, which starts at 3pm CET on Saturday (14th June), took place over two evenings as is tradition on Wednesday and Thursday (11-12 June) and proceedings could not have got off to a worse start. 8Stars’ American Driver, Frank Montecalvo, was involved in an accident in the first 30 minutes of the Wednesday session after tangling with traffic on cold tyres on the legendary Mulsanne Straight. Approaching the first chicane at maximum speed, the New Jersey-based driver clattered the barriers causing the session to be stopped whilst the car was recovered back to the pit lane.

The damage initially looked superficial, but upon further inspection, that proved not to be the case. The car had sustained some light chassis damage in addition to damaged bodywork, Montecalvo, however was unharmed.

Nonetheless, the team began the task of returning the car to the track and worked tirelessly to have the car prepared to take part in the first of the Thursday’s two sessions and the no.90 Ferrari 458 lined up with its 55 rivals at the end of the pit lane waiting for the 7pm green light. After an exploratory lap, the car returned to the pits suffering electrical issues and as the two-hour session unfolded, the team worked to rectify the faults.

8Star were not the only team suffering from the rigors of the event, as the practice sessions were interrupted time and again by red flags for some sizable accidents, which was in turn began eating into the running time available to prepare car and its three drivers, Montecalvo, Paolo Ruberti and Gianluca Roda.

8Star now had a real battle on their hands to qualify all three drivers for the race in just one final session, which was increased to two and a half hours to recover lost time. The rules of the event state that each driver must complete a mandatory three night laps to prove competence on the 8.47mile track, which encompasses a combination of public roads and permanent race track.

As the sun set over the circuit and track temperatures began to cool, drivers continued to lap the circuit in search of their respective class pole.

The 8Star team ran all three drivers in quick succession to meet the tight FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) regulations throughout the two and a half hour session, before setting a best time of 3m57.217s to position their AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia eighth in class and 42nd overall ahead of 82nd meeting of the iconic 24 hour race.

The 55 cars will next be out on track at 09.00 on Saturday (14 June) morning for a 45-minute warm up, with the start of the race scheduled to get underway by Ferrari F1 star Fernando Alonso at 15.00.

For more information on 8Star Motorsports and its racing activities, please visit thewww.8starmotorsports.com website, ‘like’ the team’s Facebook page or follow@8starmotor on Twitter.

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8Star Motorsports shooting for victory in Le Mans 24 Hours endurance classic

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8Star Motorsports is primed for the start of the 82nd 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance classic on the Circuit de la Sarthe (13-15 June).

The Pompano Beach, Florida-based outfit has had a rocky road to Le Mans, having had to overcome its fair share of misfortune in the opening two rounds of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps.

Despite showing great pace during the build-up to the season, the 6 Hours of Silverstone curtain-raiser and the following 6 Hours of Spa were mired by a series of unfortunate issues that culminated in the team’s first retirements in nine races.

In 2012, Venezuelan racing driver and businessman Enzo Potolicchio notably finished second in the 24 Hours of Daytona, before achieving historic wins in the 6 Hours of Sao Paolo, 12 Hours of Sebring and the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours en-route to the FIA WEC LMP2 Drivers’ Championship.

Last month, Frankie Motecalvo was announced as Potolicchio’s replacement in 8Star Motorsports’ Le Mans 24 Hours entry.

The 24-year old from New Jersey joins Paolo Ruberti and Gianluca Roda in 8Star’s striking orange-liveried Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 for the 82nd running of the legendary twice-around-the-clock endurance race and the trio are duly hoping to replicate former successes at Circuit de la Sarthe.

Montecalvo said: “I first raced in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2012 and I love the Circuit de la Sarthe – it’s one of my favourites – and the event itself is fantastic. I’ve been trying to get back there ever since, as it’s one of the best races you can ever hope to compete in. In fact, it’s like the Super Bowl of motor racing! I think the circuit plays to my strengths because, while it has a bit off everything, it has an abundance of long straights and high-speed corners, like the Porsche Curves, that I really enjoy – you have to really trust the downforce and it’s always exciting carrying a tonne of speed through the turns.

“I’m pretty familiar with the Ferrari 458 Italia, having raced it on numerous occasions over the past few seasons. Ferrari has made a couple of changes and improvements to the car since I last drove one, but I settled back into it and shook off the rust during testing and will be well up to speed for qualifying and the race itself, having been competing in the ‘Prototype Challenge’ class of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship most recently. The fact is, this is anything but a sprint race; there won’t be any banging of wheels and it’s all about keeping pace, staying out of trouble and working out how to get the best outcome towards the end. There’s no doubt we’re shooting for the win, with a great team and driver line-up.”

For more information on 8Star Motorsports and its racing activities, please visit thewww.8starmotorsports.com website, ‘like’ the team’s Facebook page or follow@8starmotor on Twitter.

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8Star qualifies third for TUDOR Championship Grand Prix of Kansas

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8Star Motorsports’ Sean Rayhall and Luis “Chapulin” Diaz qualified their #25 Prototype Challenge (LMPC) contender third for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s Grand Prix of Kansas at Kansas Speedway on Friday (6 June).

Sean Rayhall started for 8Star in first practice, maintaining the top spot for much of the session before eventually falling to fourth on the timing screens after Luis Diaz had a chance to tally some very fast laps.

In preparation for Saturday’s (7 June) headlining Grand Prix of Kansas, the TUDOR Championship LMPC contenders shared the short 2.37mile circuit with the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites runners in practice two.

“Chapulin” Diaz began the session with a series of hot laps and fell as low as fourth before a late glory run consisting of two consecutive flyers saw him climb back to second with a best time of 1m12.085s.

As a result, hopes were high ahead of Friday’s qualifying session. Sean Rayhall held the initiative for much of the way following an excellent initial run to finally qualify in third place with a 1m11.989s, only one tenth of a second off pole position.

“It was a good qualifying effort by the Takis-backed 8Star Motorsports LMPC car,” said Rayhall. “I got caught off guard with everyone else doing some drafting here at Kansas Speedway. We have a great car for tomorrow’s races and all the guys have worked really hard this weekend. I’m expecting a good day tomorrow, as we should be very competitive and I think we can improve on third place.”

Diaz added: “It felt good out there and it’s always very important that the car is fast right off the truck. We’ve had a long break since the Laguna Seca race, but it was good to get a feel of the track because it’s my first time here.”

Meanwhile Enzo Potolicchio, Christian Potolicchio and Lamont Harris qualified tenth, ,11th and 13th respectively in the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship Powered by Mazda.

Enzo completed solid stints throughout free practice, while his son Christian and Harris both had troubled sessions. However, all three struggled to keep pace with their rivals and subsequently qualified tenth, 11th and 13th respectively for Saturday’s race, when they will share the Kansas asphalt with the quicker LMPC machines for the first time.

For more information on 8Star Motorsports and its racing activities, please visit thewww.8starmotorsports.com website, ‘like’ the team’s Facebook page or follow@8starmotor on Twitter.

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8Star set on podiums in TUDOR and Prototype Lites Championships at Kansas

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With momentum on its side, the winning 8Star Motorsports team has its sights set on podium finishes in the TUDOR United SportsCar and Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championships in the Grand Prix of Kansas on the unique Kansas Speedway (6-7 June).

The Grand Prix of Kansas is unlike any other event on the IMSA calendar for the fact that the headlining TUDOR Championship will share the 3.81km track with competitors from the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship during two 45-minute races.

8Star is committed to nurturing young and talented prospective sportcar racers through its involvement in the IMSA-sanctioned Prototype Lites series and will field a two-car entry for Christian Potolicchio and Lamont Harris at Kansas Speedway.

Potolicchio was one of the stars of the show during Sebring’s 2014 curtain-raiser in March, as the 18-year old pulled off remarkable drives through the field to take a brace of solid points finishes, although the young Venezuelan has bigger ambitions for Kansas.

Meanwhile, Mexico’s Luis Diaz joined 19-year old hotshot Sean Rayhall in the 8Star fold for last month’s Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (3-4 May), where they raced to second place in the LMPC ranks.

The teammates were unfortunate to miss out on the class win last time out at Laguna Seca and are reluctant to settle for anything less than a spot on the Kansas Speedway podium, wanting to strengthen their bid for the 2014 TUDOR Championship title.

“We are definitely targeting the win in Kansas but nothing is set in stone in racing,” said Diaz. There’s no doubt 8Star Motorsports has all the ingredients to win, so that has to be the goal. It will be interesting to see how things develop with the new shorter race format. It’s a complete unknown, but I trust that 8Star’s ORECA FLM09 will be quick straight out of the blocks and Sean and I will be able to just concentrate on driving and achieving victory.

“The car in general was very good at Laguna Seca and the team has a strong base setup that only requires slight changes so I’m sure we’ll be able to quickly adapt the configuration to Kansas Speedway. Other than driving it in the simulator and watching some races on TV, I have no previous experience of the circuit. It seems interesting and the races will be made all-the-more exciting by the fact that we’ll be sharing the track with the IMSA Lites cars.

He added: “It’s such a competitive field and there are so many new variables to consider that it’s really hard to say which team is most likely to stand between us and victory. You obviously have to look at those who have won races this year, like CORE Autosports and Starworks, and you can never discount the RSR team.”

Rayhall said: “I’m very excited about going to Kansas, especially as we’re carrying some momentum from the Laguna Seca race. This is going to be a unique event, as we will share track time with the Copper Tires Prototype Lites runners – this will certainly add another variable to the racing! Looking at our chances at Kansas Speedway, we have a very fast car and the capability of bringing more podium finishes home in the #25 8Star Motorsports machine.”

For more information on 8Star Motorsports and its racing activities, please visit thewww.8starmotorsports.com website, ‘like’ the team’s Facebook page or follow@8starmotor on Twitter.

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8Star Spotlight: Luis Diaz

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In a true testament to its passion and professionalism, 8Star Motorsports continues to attract world-class driving talent, and Mexico’s Luis Diaz is the latest hotshot to join the team’s ranks in the newly-amalgamated TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s Prototype Challenge (LMPC) division.

Diaz had a prolific Karting career before racing extensively in open-wheeled competition and then building solid foundations in America’s highest-profile prototype and sportscar contests.

The 36-year old enjoyed a positive upbringing with his parents among Mexico City’s sprawling suburbs, and discovered his passion for motor racing early through his father’s own long-term enthusiasm for the sport.

“I had a great childhood in Mexico City and it was heavily influenced by the Spanish culture, as my Mum originates from Spain,” said Diaz. “My dad has always been a great supporter and started taking me Karting from a young age. As things started going pretty well, we decided to continue racing full-time.”

Starting Karting in 1989, Luis ‘Chapulin’ Diaz went on to be crowned the National A Karting Champion and take a brace of 100cc titles, before graduating to car racing.

“I had a very successful Karting career and racing came very naturally to me,” said Diaz. “I was always very nervous and never understood how I was able to go so fast! Competing on the American and world stages seemed distant back then, because it was always very tough to make it out of Mexico, where there were very limited opportunities to race. Having said that, I always believed I would reach the highest levels of motorsport.”

He added: “My nickname, ‘El Chapulin’, is something I’ve carried through from the very beginning of my motorsport career in Karting and it comes from ‘El Chapulin Colorado’ – a famous Mexican TV character from the Seventies and Eighties, who was sort of a joke ‘superhero’ who always wore red boots. Because I wore red racing shoes, my Dad started calling me ‘El Chapulin’ and it has stuck with me ever since!”

A season in Formula Reynard in 1996 preceded a Formula Mexico championship win, as well as strong campaigns in International Formula 3, Formula Atlantic and Indy Lights, where he was crowned ‘Rookie of the Year’ and became the series’ first ever Mexican race winner.

However, the results only tell half the story. By all accounts, ‘El Chapulin’ had to make several tough compromises on his rise through the ranks, but says his Indy Lights victory was instrumental in raising his profile and moving him to the fore.

“Entering International Formula 3 and Indy Lights as a young Mexican was very tough because there weren’t many of out of there and support was low, although this pushed me to focus more,” said Diaz. “It’s difficult leaving your country and pursuing a career in international sport, as you spend long periods of time away from your family, your home, culture and food, but I knew these were all necessary compromises and the only way of making it into the big leagues.

“Now I’m proud to be representing Mexico in world motorsport. Mexicans are very nationalistic and to act for your home country is always a special feeling, although it does bring a lot of responsibility too. This is why it was such an honour to become the first ever Mexican race winner and ‘Rookie of the Year’ in Indy Lights. Of course, this also demonstrated what I was capable of and helped put me on the world stage.

Diaz achieved race wins and podium finishes aplenty in single-seaters but, after making two Champ Car starts at his home Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, made an inspired decision to switch to sportscar racing in 2004.

Initially teamed with Jimmy Morales in a Chip Ganassi Racing-prepared Lexus-Riley Daytona Prototype (DP) in the Rolex Sports Car Series, the Mexican earned a place in the team’s number one entry alongside Scott Pruett in 2005.

It proved to be a formidable pairing, as together they accumulated three race wins, eight podium finishes and four pole positions en-route to the runner-up spot in the final DP classification, before repeating the feat again and leading Chip Ganassi Racing to the coveted Teams’ trophy in 2006.

“There weren’t many opportunities to step up into Champ Car (CART) at the time so, when I had the chance to go into sportcar racing with a top team, I had to take it,” said Diaz. “Looking back, it was definitely the right decision to switch from single-seaters to sportscars as I’ve had a lot of success. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

The Takis-backed Diaz made his American Le Mans Series (ALMS) debut in Lowe’s Fernandez Racing colours in 2007. He enjoyed a successful three-year stint with the team that culminated with the 2009 LMP2 Drivers’ title for him and team owner Adrian Fernandez, having dominantly won nine of the ten races that season.

But after a stint with Level 5 Motorsport, Diaz has joined Enzo Potolicchio’s flourishing 8Star Motorsports team for the remaining TUDOR Championship sprints, beginning with last month’s Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (3-4 May).

“Winning the 2009 ALMS title is definitely the highlight of my career,” said Diaz. “It was a dream come true! Adrian (Fernandez) and I had an amazing season and dominated that year, so it was incredible to win the championship and enter the history books with him and his team.

“However, I’m delighted to have joined 8Star Motorsports and I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen. It is without a doubt one of the top teams out there and Enzo (Potolicchio) has done a great job building a highly professional outfit with the very best people and facilities. This is demonstrated by the results it has achieved, including the second place we took at Laguna Seca.”

8Star is renowned for attracting world-class driving talent, including multiple Le Mans winner Allan McNish, 2012 FIA World Touring Car Champion Rob Huff and renowned French racer Stephane Sarrazin, and the team’s vision is to create a lasting legacy by nurturing aspiring racers through a newly-established academy in its IMSA Cooper Tires Prototype Lites programme.

The Enzo Potolicchio-led team has designed a multi-step competition ladder to help prospective endurance racers progress in their careers and its entry in the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship provides young hopefuls with an opportunity to hone their skills in entry-level high-downforce machinery, before graduating to the headlining TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

Well aware of the challenges that face young drivers wanting to compete in the highest echelons of motorsport, Diaz truly appreciates the importance of creating a solid platform for prospective pro drivers to maximise their potential and has belief in 8Star’s ‘academy’ programme.

“8Star’s ‘stairway of talent’ is great,” said Diaz. “My teammate, Sean Rayhall, is the perfect example of why it’s important for teams to have a programme in place to develop young talent and prove drivers with opportunities to move up the ranks. Having big teams like 8Star supporting the lower categories gives these young racers more experience, improves their competitiveness and gives them a real shot at the big time. Unfortunately, sourcing sponsorship is becoming increasingly difficult and is crucial when finding a drive, but there’s a lot of talent out there that deserves a chance.

“I’m very fortunate to have a fantastic sponsor like Takis behind me. Takis is a big brand and a household name in Mexico, and it’s truly an honour to have them on-board. It’s important to have good sponsors, not only to keep you on track, but more importantly to help us engage the fans and Takis is perfect for this. I hope to reward my sponsors for their support by going on to achieve race wins and grow 8Star’s TUDOR Championship LMPC programme this year, with the aim of coming back and winning the title in 2015.”

For more information on 8Star Motorsports and its racing activities, please visit the www.8starmotorsports.com website, ‘like’ the team’s Facebook page or follow @8starmotor on Twitter.

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Montecalvo steps in for Potolicchio for 8Star’s Le Mans 24 Hours assault

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Frankie Montecalvo will step in for Enzo Potolicchio behind the wheel of 8Star Motorsports’ Ferrari 458 Italia GTE-Am for the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans (14-15 June).

Potolicchio has contested every FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) race to date but has been forced to vacate his seat for the 82nd running of the legendary endurance classic due to conditions relating to his US Green Card application.

The Venezuelan racer is required to remain within the United States for the duration of the six-month process until his application for an overseas travel permit is accepted.

Young charger Montecalvo has been enlisted as Potolicchio’s replacement and will join Paolo Ruberti and Gianluca Roda in 8Star’s striking orange-liveried #90 Ferrari 458 Italia for the twice-around-the-clock enduro.

The New Jersey-based 24-year old is a full-time entrant in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s ‘Prototype Challenge’ division, and steps into 8Star colours with prior experience of Le Mans and the European Le Mans Series (ELMS).

While disappointed, Potolicchio is already looking forward to returning to the WEC fray at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas (19-20 September) and is confident Montecalvo will step up to the plate and deliver at Le Mans.

“It’s an unfortunate situation, but it’s something that cannot be helped,” said Potolicchio. “It was important to find a solution for 8Star Motorsports’ Le Mans effort and I’m delighted that we have somebody of Frankie’s (Montecalvo) calibre to take my place in the Ferrari 458 Italia. I’ll return for the remainder of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) more determined than ever and I’m already looking forward to getting back behind the wheel at Circuit of the Americas in September!”

For more information on 8Star Motorsports and its racing activities, please visit thewww.8starmotorsports.com website, ‘like’ the team’s Facebook page or follow@8starmotor on Twitter.

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8Star chips away and returns to TUDOR Championship podium at Laguna Seca

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8Star Motorsports returned to the TUDOR United SportsCar Chahampionship podium, finishing second in Prototype Challenge in the 2014 Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda at California’s Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday (4 May).

Having suffered with a lack of grip during qualifying on Saturday (3 May), the situation had improved dramatically for Sunday morning’s free practice and gave 8Star a very real chance of fighting for the LMPC win in the weekend’s headlining two-hour Monterey Grand Prix.

Luis Diaz was called up for the opening stint, jumping from third to second position at the start and proceeding to challenge for the class lead.

The Mexican pushed on and, 16 minutes into the race, snatched the initiative from RSR Racing’s Duncan Ende, which he kept for the duration of his run before handing 8Star’s #25 ORECA FLM09 prototype to teammate Sean Rayhall.

After a swift driver-change, Rayhall recorded consistently strong lap times while continuing in first place, until a pit stop dropped him to fifth behind Renger van der Zande in the Starworks Motorsport entry, commencing what would become the main fight for victory.

Brazil’s Bruno Junquiera featured at the top, but an opposing strategy would play against him and his RSR Racing team, a pit stop during a long green period ultimately taking him out of contention for the top spot.

Rayhall, meanwhile, pushed hard and had incredible speed, getting within three seconds of LMPC class leader Van der Zande before spinning with only ten minutes to run.

This forced 8Star Motorsports to go defensive in a bid to preserve its second position against RSR’s Junqueira, who reduced the gap to Rayhall to less than five seconds on the final charge to the flag.

“The changes made after qualifying made the 8Star Motorsports ORECA feel much better and I knew we had a really good car going into the race,” said Diaz. “The goal was to achieve a podium finish for our new sponsor, Takis, and everyone at 8Star. Sean (Rayhall) had done a great job all weekend and we was in a position to fight for the win, if everything went well.

“In the end, I think we did everything we could. Our strategy didn’t help us and the yellow flags were definitely not beneficial to us, but the team did a great job in the pit stops, making no mistakes, and, while Sean tried to pull off a pass that didn’t work, I think that was the way to play it – he carried great momentum. I am really happy and this is a great result for 8Star Motorsports and Takis!”

Rayhall concluded: “It has been a fantastic Job by the 8Star Motorsports crew to get the Takis-backed ORECA FLM09 out in front. Contact with a GT car ultimately cost us a shot at victory, but I was able to recover and finish second.  I’m really thankful to 8Star and Takis, as this was our first time at Laguna Seca and we got a great result.”

For more information on 8Star Motorsports and its racing activities, please visit thewww.8starmotorsports.com website, ‘like’ the team’s Facebook page or follow@8starmotor on Twitter.

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8Star in the mix for TUDOR Championship LMPC win at Laguna Seca

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8Star Motorsports’ Sean Rayhall qualified the team’s #25 ORECA FLM09 LMPC machine third in the Prototype Challenge class for the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda – the next instalment in the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship – at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (3 May).

Rayhall was the first to get behind the wheel in free practice one and initially held the top spot before being dropped to third place, with some improvements still to be made to 8Star’s orange LMPC contender.

Mexican Luis Diaz got his shot in the latter stages of first practice, but was severely hampered by excessive traffic and ultimately had his running curtailed by a red-flag stoppage.

Practice two was a completely different story, as both drivers reported significant improvements in the feel of the car and this was represented by Rayhall’s and Diaz’s lap times, which were a match for anybody.

As the tires degraded, the car lost grip. However, 8Star still managed to maintain fourth place on the timing screens.

Yet more improvements came in Saturday’s qualifying session and Rayhall opened his account with a time of 1m20.421s to go third fastest, with pole-sitter Bruno Junqueira on a 1m19.723s and almost five tenths up on the rest of the field.

Rayhall, from Atlanta, Georgia, said: “Practice felt good and we made changes on the car that moved us in the right direction for qualifying. I’m really happy with third place, as this is 8Star’s first visit to Laguna Seca with LMPC machinery. Yves, our engineer, worked really hard, even though we didn’t have much time to practice. I’m really thankful to have Takis on the car supporting us this weekend and for the rest of this year’s sprint races. To win is the objective. In fact, I’m really looking forward to the race, as I think we have a good car and two really good drivers.”

Diaz, from Mexico City, said: “The track changed a lot between FP1 and FP2 as there was a lot less grip. But the car feels good and 8Star Motorsports did a great job to fix some details on the car. I feel pretty good about qualifying third and, if we can stay out of trouble and have a clean race, I’m sure we’ll produce a great result for our new sponsor, Takis, and perhaps finish on the podium.”

For more information on 8Star Motorsports and its racing activities, please visit the www.8starmotorsports.com website, ‘like’ the team’s Facebook page or follow@8starmotor on Twitter.