Motorsport: McKenna 'pumped up' for action in Star Mazda
Patrick McKenna arrived in Texas this week as he steps up his preparations for his first season in the Star Mazda series with Dallas-based Team GDT.
McKenna -- the reigning Dunlop Motorsport Ireland Driver of the Year for the second year in a row -- is looking forward to his second season of US racing following his runner-up performance in the USF2000 championship last year.
The Indianapolis-based Dubliner is aiming to follow in the wheeltracks of reigning Star Mazda Champion Conor Daly -- son of former F1 star Derek -- who graduates to Indy Lights and the European-based GP3 series this year on foot of his title success.
Daly's 2011 programme was boosted by his $500,000 Mazda scholarship fund, which McKenna is gunning for. Having set top times on his first acquaintance with a Star Mazda car at Sebring last October, McKenna is very excited about his graduation to the greater power and grip on offer now.
And McKenna believes that his natural driving style will suit the Goodyear-equipped, 260bhp Mazda Rotary engined one-make Star Mazda machine and is looking forward to getting to know his new team in this week's test ahead of the first official series test from March 14-16.
"I can't wait to get going in Texas this week and I don't think I've been more excited about the start of a season since I began my driving career," he said.
"My natural style is to brake really late and that really suited the Star Mazda when I first tested one in Sebring. I was at home quickly and after that, I was thrilled to be able to put together such a strong package with Team GDT.
"I'm really looking forward to working with owner and team-mate JW Shooter and all the team who seem really focused.
"We're looking forward to seeing how we are against the other teams (in testing) but the first real test will be at the first round of the championship in St Petersburg, Florida at the end of the month."
Having scored two wins and a total of eight podiums from 12 races in USF2000 last year, McKenna is fired up to challenge for the $500,000 scholarship first prize for the winner of the Star Mazda series this year.
"It'll be tough in year one, but I'm pumped and I'm sure we'll be able to make an impression on the front runners," he said.