Newly-crowned Star Mazda champion Adam Christodoulou got his first taste of the Atlantic Championship as preparations for the 2010 season began to get underway in earnest.

The Briton, who claimed the Star Mazda title at the first attempt in 2009, enjoyed a two-day test with Team Stargate Worlds at Buttonwillow Raceway, logging nearly 400 miles in cool weather conditions aboard the #78 machine that Simona de Silvestro took to four victories and third in points this year. The team, which is based at Buttonwillow, reported that 20-year old Christodoulou managed to work up to speed quickly and rarely put a wheel wrong over the two days.

"I was pleased," engineer Burke Harrison reported, "He was very consistent and obviously has a lot of raw talent. The conditions here weren't great, but there was very little off-track drama at all and the feedback was good. We made progress on the balance of the car, especially the second day.

"I thought it was a very good test. That's the way I judge someone. We were trying stuff, we weren't just driving around, putting new tyres on and looking for a lap. We worked the day like you would a good test. He never got tired, the times were consistent, his feedback was good, he went out and got after it. All in all, it was a positive test."

Christodoulou receives a free ride in the 2010 Atlantic Championship, the top rung of the Mazdaspeed Motorsports Driver Development Ladder, as part of his prize for winning the Star Mazda title, and the Briton was satisfied after his maiden run in one the series' cars.

"It's been really good," Christodoulou said, "We never ran into and trouble and ended up just a fraction off Simona's time around here, so I think, for my second day in the car, it's gone extremely well.

"The team did an awesome job. We didn't have any problems on their part. I had one minor detour off the track but, apart from that, everything else ran smoothly. We've had two days of flat-out testing, and it's been quite cold, but it's been some good testing and it's been an enjoyable first experience in the Atlantic car. I've really enjoyed it."

After a break for the holidays, both Team Stargate Worlds and Christodoulou expect to hit the Atlantic testing trail hard early in the New Year, with both expecting to participate in recently-confirmed series-sanctioned test at Sebring International Raceway on the weekend of 22-24 January.

While there are still a few more days left in 2009, all involved with the championship are already focused on the 2010 season, which is set to kick off at Sebring International Raceway on Friday 19 March as part of the festivities for the 58th Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring.

The opening event leads off a twelve-race schedule that includes stops at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Lime Rock Park, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, New Jersey Motorsports Park, Miller Motorsports Park, Autobahn Country Club, the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres and Road Atlanta, with the possibility of a 13th event expected to be decided shortly.

"In my opinion, our 2010 schedule is already one of the best in motorsports," championship president Ben Johnston commented, "The venues we have lined up are top notch and will provide plenty of excitement to our drivers, teams, fans and series partners. At the same time, we continue to work on adding one more event to the schedule, and if our negotiations are successful, it will be exciting for all involved."

As of early December, at least 15 teams had expressed an interest in competing in next year's championship and some, like Stargate Worlds, have already hit the testing trail.

Eric Jensen, owner of the eponymous Jensen MotorSport squad which saw him crowned 2009 Atlantic Team Owner of the Year, claimed that his operation was 'looking very strong for 2010'.

"We've already signed Zach Veach to drive one of our cars and we will certainly have two full-time cars in the series," Jensen continued, "Based on the number of requests I've been getting, we very well could be a three-car team. The US economy seems to be improving, and we have some good new corporate sponsorships coming online for 2010. That is very promising, since it is much easier to challenge for wins and championships without the stress of working on a tight budget."

Stargate Worlds is hoping to test other drivers alongside Christodoulou, and admits that it is still hoping to retain the Stargate Worlds backing, while Primetime Race Group and Condor Motorsports have expressed interest in two- and three-car teams respectively. Swan Racing, meanwhile, reports that it is hoping to have 'drivers competing for both the overall points championship and the C2 points championship'.

The first group test at Sebring will form part of a three-day session that includes other IMSA-sanctioned series, including Star Mazda, the GT3 Challenge and Prototype Lights.

"Participating in testing at Sebring alongside the other IMSA-sanctioned series gives everybody involved a great opportunity to jump start their preparations for the 2010 season," said Atlantic Championship VP of operations John Brunner, "There has been quite a lot of activity and discussion among the teams since our 2009 season ended in October and we will see how things have progressed at this test. It's also a great opportunity for our teams to get baseline set-ups for our season opener at Sebring in March."

Further announcements regarding the 2010 Atlantic Championship, including driver and team announcements, are expected in the near future.

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