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8Star and Potolicchio hope for upturn in fortunes in 6 Hours of Spa

DDLP3608Enzo Potolicchio and the 8Star Motorsports team hope for an upturn in fortunes in Round 2 of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) – the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (2-3 May).

8Star Motorsports took a historic maiden victory from only its second FIA WEC GTE-Am contest in last year’s 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, leading from lap three and never relinquishing control of the race while up against some strong opposition from the likes of Aston Martin and Corvette.

Despite showing great pace during the build-up to the opening round of its 2014 FIA WEC campaign – the 6 Hours of Silverstone – less than two weeks ago, 8Star’s progress was thwarted by a series of unfortunate issues that culminated in a driveshaft failure, which resulted in the Florida-based team’s first retirement in more than nine races.

However, the next halt on the WEC calendar is Belgium’s legendary Spa-Francorchamps – a track brimming with motorsport history and heritage.

It carves its way through the spectacular Ardennes forest in the Belgian province of Liege and remains one of the world’s most formidable race tracks, comprising of infamous corners like Eau Rouge – the step left-right-left sweeper with a blind summit – the double-apexed Pouhon and the flat-out Blanchimont.

As a result, Potolicchio is brimming with optimism and enthusiasm and believes he can get his 2014 WEC title bid on track at the legendary Belgian circuit.

“Like most drivers, I absolutely adore Spa-Francorchamps and I always look forward to racing there, particularly as it holds such positive memories for me and the 8Star Motorsports team,” said Potolicchio. “The team showed a great deal of potential last time out at Silverstone and I genuinely believe the GTE-Am race win is on the cards if all goes to plan.

“We encountered so much bad luck at Silverstone, I’m hoping it’s all in the past now. Of course, the weather can be even more unpredictable at Spa, so strategy could be crucial and I think we will benefit from our experiences at Silverstone. On the whole I’m feeling very positive and determined to get the championship underway. The season begins now for 8Star Motorsports.”

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 pursuing TUDOR Championship LMPC win at Laguna Seca

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8Star Motorsports and its drivers Sean Rayhall and Luis Diaz will pursue LMPC victory when the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship resumes with the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda at California’s Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (3-4 May).

Rayhall, aged 19 from Atlanta, Georgia, has a remarkable record in motorsport, having taken no less than 74 race wins, 118 podium finishes, 47 pole positions and 70 fastest laps from 172 race starts.

The young hotshot raced to second in class on his LMPC debut in 8Star machinery at last year’s Petit Le Mans and returned to the cockpit of the Enzo Potolicchio-led squad’s striking ORECA FLM09 prototype for the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring earlier this year.

The 2013 Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Champion will front the Pompano Beach-based team’s assault in the remaining sprint races on the 2014 TUDOR Championship calendar and is focused on bolstering his trophy collection, with the ultimate aim being title glory.

“I’m definitely hoping to win at Mazda Raceway, as my teammate Luis (Diaz) has won there before and I actually haven’t lost a race on the track,” said Rayhall. “It’s definitely home away from home for me and I really get on well with its high-speed, flowing and low-grip nature, as it requires an interesting driving style to make it work. Everybody expects 8Star’s ORECA FLM09 to be at its best at Laguna Seca and it will be great to finally demonstrate the potential we had in the 12 Hours of Sebring, where we undoubtedly had the car to compete with the eventual winners.

“To miss out on a result at Sebring was obviously disappointing and you’ll always question what could have been, but it’s all about how you respond and I’m looking forward to getting out title bid underway this weekend. I believe Luis and I will be a good match for each other. Luis has a lot of experience and history in the sport, while I’m the younger one. We’ll have the best of both worlds and should be able to learn from one another, growing as a team.”

Mexican Luis Diaz has been prolific in open-wheeled, prototype and sportscar competition and will partner Rayhall for the TUDOR Championship sprints, beginning with the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix on the 2.23mile Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – a circuit that’s defined by one corner, the infamous Corkscrew (3-4 May).

The 36-year old from Mexico City is eager to take 8Star Motorsports to the top and is bullish about the team’s prospects, particularly as he achieved the LMPC class victory at Laguna Seca in 2013.

“I’m feeling great, as I really enjoy racing LMPC machinery and I love Laguna Seca, having won there last year,” said Diaz. “It’s a good track for me and I’m bringing a great deal of experience and enthusiasm to the 8Star Motorsports fold, particularly knowing I have such a great teammate in Sean (Rayhall) – he’s a talented individual and in short sprints it’s a very important thing to have two competitive drivers.

“With this in mind, my goal is to repeat last year’s victory. I definitely feel 8Star has all the key ingredients to provide a great car and I think we have a responsibility to bring home some solid results for new sponsors, including Takis. We have six races to show them that we want to grow with them in the TUDOR Championship.”

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8Star Motorsports Set for Big Weekend in Road Atlanta, Fuji

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Pompano Beach, Fla. (Oct. 14, 2013) – With four races in three series stretched across two different continents, 8Star Motorsports is set for its biggest weekend yet. The Florida-based organization gears up for the sixth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship in Japan, while also competing in the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda season finale at Road Atlanta and making its highly anticipated Prototype Challenge debut in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón series-ending Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda.

Saturday’s 1,000-mile/10-hour endurance race at Road Atlanta will mark the end of an era for the ALMS but a new beginning for 8Star as it gets a jump start on the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The team, which fielded two Corvette DPs in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series this season, made the investment in PC machinery earlier this year, with the goal of entering at least one race this season in preparation for 2014.

Team principal Enzo Potolicchio has entrusted veteran Ozz Negri and rising sportscar star Sean Rayhall as drivers for 8Star’s ORECA FLM09 this weekend. Negri, a native of Brazil, has more than a decade’s worth of prototype experience, including winning the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2012. He will lend his expertise to 18-year-old Rayhall, the current Prototype Lites championship leader, who makes his ALMS debut.

“We’re excited to have Ozz on board with 8Star and also to be giving Sean a chance in our first PC race,” Potolicchio said. “We want to showcase our ladder system within IMSA and that aspiring drivers from Prototype Lites can move up to PC and then hopefully into the Prototype class. With all of the experience that Ozz has, he will be a really good teammate for Sean.

“It’s unbelievable how quickly our team has grown in its first year,” Potolicchio continued. “In addition to our podiums in DP this year, we felt it was important to showcase that we are a capable Prototype Challenge team as well and that we’re an option for customers wanting to race in the TUDOR Championship next year. We still think PC is the best place for Pro-Am driver lineups.”

Potolicchio will be following his PC team’s progress from afar, as the accomplished Venezuelan owner/driver will be leading 8Star’s efforts in Sunday’s FIA WEC 6 Hours of Fuji. A recent rules change requiring three-driver lineups in the LM GTE-AM class has seen Potolicchio reconfirm the team’s program. Ferrari Formula 1 test driver Davide Rigon rejoins Potolicchio and Rui Aguas in the No. 81 Ferrari 458 Italia GT for the Japanese round. The team currently sits third in the points standings, looking to make up ground in the title chase.

8Star will also be in action in the pair of season-ending Prototype Lites races at Road Atlanta, with drivers Christian Potolicchio and Franco De Leonardis, who both visited the podium in the last round at the Circuit of The Americas. De Leonardis, in fact, scored the team’s first Prototype Lites Master Class victory and third place overall finish in Race 1, while 18-year-old Potolicchio took his No. 2 Elan DP02 to a podium in Race 2. Both will be looking to repeat.

With nearly 20 hours of racing time between the 1,000-mile Petit Le Mans, 6-hour FIA WEC race and pair of 30 and 45-minute Prototype Lites sprint races, fans around the world will be seeing plenty of 8Star’s signature orange-colored cars on track this weekend.

“It’s a big showing for us,” said 8Star Motorsports Director of Operations, Brian Colangelo. “We have two Prototype Lites cars as well as well as the new PC car for Ozz and Sean, plus the WEC program in Japan. While it’s our first Petit Le Mans as a team, many of our crew have previous experience of this race so we’re quite confident. We’re hoping to end the Prototype Lites season on a high note, too. If everything goes well, we’ll have good results all around.”

The 16th annual Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda is set for 11 a.m. EDT on Saturday, October 19, with live coverage on Fox Sports 2 and Fox Sports 1. Fox Sports 1 will broadcast highlights of the race on Sunday, October 20 at 4 p.m. EDT. Live timing and scoring will also be available on the series’ official website, http://www.alms.com.

The FIA WEC 6 Hours of Fuji is set for 10 p.m. EDT on Saturday, October 19, with live coverage at http://live.fiawec.com, as well as on Eurosport and Motors TV in Europe. Qualifying, set for Saturday October 19 at 12:20 a.m. EDT, will also be carried on the official series’ website with available live timing and scoring.

The Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda Championship has two races scheduled, the first on Thursday, October 17 at 12:50 p.m. EDT for a 30-minute sprint. A 45-minute race is set for Friday, October 18 at 9:20 a.m. EDT. Qualifying will get underway on Wednesday, October 16 at 4 p.m. EDT. Live timing and scoring will be available for all sessions at http://www.imsalites.com.

About 8Star Motorsports
8Star Motorsports (www.8starmotorsports.com) was founded in November 2012 by championship sports car driver Enzo Potolicchio. Based in Pompano Beach, Fla., 8Star competes in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series (Daytona Prototype), FIA World Endurance Championship, American Le Mans Series (Prototype Challenge) and IMSA-sanctioned Cooper Tires Prototype Lights Championship.

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8Star Motorsports Claims Historic First Victory

Francorchamps, Belgium (May 5, 2013) – For many new teams, it could often take years before achieving success in the highest form of sportscar racing. But in only its second start in the FIA World Endurance Championship, 8Star Motorsports broke through to claim a historic maiden victory in Saturday’s 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.

Team principal Enzo Potolicchio joined co-drivers Rui Aguas and Matteo Malucelli on the top step of the LM GTE-Am podium following a dominant performance in the second round of the FIA WEC. The Florida-based organization’s Ferrari F458 Italia led from the third lap and never relinquished control of the race, despite facing strong opposition from the likes of Aston Martin and Corvette.

While a safety car period in the second hour helped solidify their lead, consistent stints from all three drivers, including FIA WEC debutant Malucelli, who recorded the fastest race lap in GTE-Am, proved that 8Star was the team to beat all day. Malucelli drove the No. 81 Ferrari to its first-ever checkered flag, finishing one lap clear of the nearest competition.

“It was an amazing race,” said Potolicchio. “This is the first win for 8Star Motorsports and I couldn’t be more proud of the effort everyone put in to make this happen. Rui and Matteo drove great stints and we managed to stay in the lead for most of the race. I’m really happy to have them as teammates as I learned a lot.

“Spa was the only race last year that I didn’t get on the podium in the FIA WEC and we ended up with a win here. It’s an unbelievable weekend,” Potolicchio added. “I have to thank the entire team, including the crew back in Florida who weren’t able to celebrate with us tonight. We’re one big team and we will be looking for continued success together in the races to come.”

Following his World Championship-winning season in LMP2 last year, which included victories at Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Potolicchio has become the first driver to win in both a prototype and GTE class in the FIA WEC. Adding to the historical significance, 8Star is only the second American team to claim victory in the series, which features some of the world’s most accomplished teams.

The race didn’t come easy for 8Star, though, as all three drivers had to stay on their toes, especially around a number of LMP1 cars, which often made aggressive overtaking moves on the Ferrari. One incident, which tore off the right-side mirror, resulted in the team having to replace the entire door during a routine pit stop.

“We had to push all the way,” Aguas said. “Enzo did very good in his double stint and we knew we had to gain an advantage because we knew how fast the Aston Martins would be. We were able to increase our lead of 25 seconds to almost 1 minute and 50 seconds. The team did an excellent job. The car was very competitive all weekend. The three of us worked very well together. We’re looking forward to Le Mans for sure.”

As a result of the victory, as well as the podium finish in last month’s 6 Hours of Silverstone, 8Star has moved into second place in the FIA WEC Endurance Trophy in GTE-Am and will be in prime position to attack for top honors in the world-renowned 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 22-23. An official test day on the legendary Circuit de La Sarthe will kick off proceedings on June 9.

8Star will be looking to continue its winning ways next weekend, but on home soil, as it takes part in the American Le Mans Series Monterey presented by Patron on May 9-11 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in both the ALMS Prototype Challenge and Cooper Tires Prototype Lites powered by Mazda categories.

 

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8Star Motorsports Scores Podium at Silverstone in FIA WEC Debut

Silverstone, England (Apr. 15, 2013) – 8Star Motorsports celebrated its first-ever podium finish in its FIA World Endurance Championship debut Sunday in England, as drivers Enzo Potolicchio, Philipp Peter and Rui Aguas overcame a series of setbacks to record a third place finish in a hard-fought season-opening 6 Hours of Silverstone.

The South Florida-based organization, in partnership with multi-time GT champions AF Corse, fought an electrical gremlin with its No. 81 Ferrari 458 Italia early in the running, which prevented its traction control system from functioning and dropping the Ferrari down the leader board. However, a decision to stay out on Michelin dry-weather tires during a sudden downpour early in the third hour elevated the GTE-Am car to second in class.

Despite having to replace its right-side door after contact with a prototype in the fourth hour, the 8Star Ferrari looked set for a stunning runner-up finish in the competitive category until a late-race bump from the third-placed Corvette, which resulted in a left-rear tire puncture with less than five minutes remaining. Forced to make an unscheduled stop, Aguas rejoined the race on the final lap and managed to bring the car to the checkered flag in third place.

“We’re happy with the result,” team principal Potolicchio said. “We finished on the podium after a somewhat difficult race for us. Philipp had a great start but he lost some time trying to figure out what was going on with the electronics. He figured out the problem but it meant we had no traction control. It hurt us a lot. Rui also had a difficult time when it started raining. We decided to stay out on slicks. That was the right call but it was easy for us to make the call from inside the pits. For him in the car, it was complicated.

“But in the end, we gained a lot of positions by staying on slicks. It really came down to great calls. The team did an amazing job with the pit stops. We had to change a door because we lost a mirror. In the end, it’s a good result. I’m really happy to have Rui and Philipp on the team. We just need to continue to work hard and give 100 percent again at Spa to continue our fight in the championship.”

The 8Star and AF Corse partnership will be looking to build on its strong start to the FIA WEC season next month in Belgium at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on May 2-4. However, 8Star’s U.S. operation will be back in action this weekend at Road Atlanta for the fourth round of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. The two-hour and 45-minute Rolex Series race takes the green flag Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET, with live coverage on SPEED.

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8Star Motorsports Ready for Silverstone FIA WEC Season Opener

Silverstone, England (Apr. 10, 2013) – 8Star Motorsports begins a new and exciting chapter this weekend, as the rapidly growing organization makes its debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). Following successful starts to both its GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda programs, the Florida-based team steps up to the world’s stage in a bid for victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as the end-of-year championship.

Sunday’s 6 Hours of Silverstone will mark the first race of the eight-round FIA WEC championship that will spread across Europe, North and South America, as well as Asia, in what’s quickly become the most prestigious sportscar racing series in the world. 8Star team principal Enzo Potolicchio will be looking for back-to-back World Championships, after the accomplished Venezuelan racer won the LMP2 title last year, which included victories at Sebring and Le Mans.

This year, Potolicchio has put his focus in the GTE-Am class, with 8Star running a Ferrari 458 Italia in conjunction with multiple-time GT champions, AF Corse. The new partnership has already gotten off to a promising start, as the Ferrari was quickest in the second day of official pre-season testing at Paul Ricard last month. More than 800 miles were logged during the productive two-day test in southern France.

Joining Potolicchio in the No. 81 Ferrari for the this weekend’s FIA WEC season opening race, as well as the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps next month, will be experienced GT drivers Rui Aguas and Philipp Peter, as 8Star targets victory in their international debut.

“We definitely have a good feeling heading into this weekend,” Potolicchio said. “It’s an exciting time for 8Star and we’ve been very happy with this latest partnership between us and AF Corse for the FIA WEC. Our engineer is very good and I think we have a strong driver package as well. We can only expect to win. I’m really confident in this program.”

Considered as the “Home of British Motorsport,” the 5.901-km, 18-turn Silverstone circuit was the site of a close-fought second place finish in LMP2 for Potolicchio in 2012, the same race where AF Corse scored a double class victory in both GTE-Pro and GTE-Am.

“For me, it’s going to be a different experience now being in GTE-Am because I’ll have to look out for the LMP1 and LMP2 cars,” Potolicchio added. “But fortunately, I already know all of the tracks from last year. The Ferrari 458 Italia is a car I like and drive well. If we can have clean races, there’s no reason why we can’t win. It’s an exciting approach to Le Mans, as that’s our main goal.”

The 6 Hours of Silverstone opens with two Free Practice sessions on Friday. Qualifying is set for Saturday afternoon, with the FIA WEC season opening round beginning Sunday at 12 p.m. BST (7 a.m. ET). The race will be broadcast live on Motors TV in Europe, along with live video and timing and scoring available at http://live.fiawec.com to viewers worldwide.

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8Star Motorsports Bounces Back for Top 10 at Barber

Birmingham, Ala. (Apr. 6, 2013) – Overcoming an unfortunate first-lap incident, 8Star Motorsportsrecorded its third consecutive top-10 finish in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series, following Saturday’s Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park. Despite walking away thinking what could have been, Enzo Potoliccho and Stephane Sarrazin collected valuable championship points and remain firmly in the Daytona Prototype title race with nine races still to go.

The South Florida-based team headed into the shortest Rolex Series race of the season with plenty of optimism, after its No. 3 Corvette DP topped the time sheets in Friday’s final practice and proved to be a threat in nearly every session of the weekend, both in wet and dry conditions on the 2.3-mile, 17-turn road course.

However, 8Star’s podium hopes were dashed on the very first lap of the two-hour race, when team principal Potolicchio was collected in an incident, which damaged both the front and rear of the Pratt & Miller-built Corvette DP. The Venezuelan championship racer remained on track until the first, and only full-course caution on Lap 13, when he pitted to hand over to Sarrazin, which also gave the team an opportunity to assess the damage.

Battling an ill-handing car for the remainder of the race, the Frenchman made the most of the challenging situation. Sarrazin stayed in contention, and even led for three laps until making his final green-flag pit stop with less than 50 minutes to go. The orange-colored Corvette took the checkered flag in 10th position, a result that no doubt came as a slight disappointment given that a podium finish was in sight.

“We definitely had a car to battle for the win, especially with Stephane’s speed earlier in the weekend,” Potolicchio said. “But I was caught up in a racing incident that I just couldn’t avoid. Things like that happen. The hit I had against the wall was really big. I was surprised how well the car held up. We were able to run competitive times in the end but were just too far behind the leaders. It’s a shame because I think everyone had hopes of getting on the podium, but we’ll work harder for the next one at Road Atlanta.”

“It was a tough race for me,” Sarrazin added. “I struggled with the car after Enzo’s incident. We had a problem with the front and the rear. We managed to finish the race, which is always good. We scored some points, but not as many as we had expected. We were very fast here so it shows that the team is improving. The car was really good all weekend so we’ll see how the next race goes.”

Potolicchio, Sarrazin and the 8Star team head into the next round of the GRAND-AM RolexSports Car Series season at Road Atlanta sitting sixth in the championship standings. The series’ first trip to the world-class facility in Braselton, Ga. is scheduled for April 18-20. The race can be seen live on SPEED, Saturday, April 20 at 4:30 p.m. ET. Live timing and scoring can be found at http://www.grand-am.com.