Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

Mazda Road to Indy $200k Shootout Changes Venue for 2017

This year’s Mazda Road to Indy $200K Scholarship Shootout will take place at a new venue, with the 20 champions from across the glove coming together at the Bondurant Racing School near Phoenix, Ariz. on December 9 and 10.

The shootout will use the Bondurant’s main track, Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, which is a 1.6-mile road course with 15 turns

“We chose Bondurant this year for a number of reasons,” said Kyle Kimball, Operations Manager for Mazda Motorsports. “Bondurant is an official partner of IMSA, a sanctioning body that Mazda is also very involved with. We like to do business with those who support auto racing, and Bondurant fits the bill, especially with their Formula Mazda cars.”

The MRTI ladder was developed as a way to progress drivers through the open-wheel ranks, eventually leading to the Verizon IndyCar Series. Drivers begin in Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda, followed by Pro Mazda, Indy Lights and then IndyCar. Notably, the champion at each level receives a scholarship to put towards a ride at the next level.

The shootout was developed last year by Mazda to include champions from a select group of junior level open-wheel and karting series around the globe. There was an option for 20 entry tickets to be given out by series to their Champions, with the only other requirement being each competitor must be between the age 14 and 25 as of September 30. The winner of the shootout earns a $200,000 prize from Mazda to allow them to compete in USF2000 in 2018.

“The Mazda $200,000 Shootout represents exactly what the Mazda Road to Indy is all about, giving drivers an opportunity to compete and advance all the way up the ladder to IndyCar,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “Bringing champions from all over the world together in a shootout format will produce a driver who is sure to be a contender in 2018 and, with the training provided in our program, that driver will have a much better shot at a career at the pinnacle of the sport down the road. I love what Mazda, Cooper Tires and our other partners are doing to provide this opportunity and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds.”

Last year, Oliver Askew came away with the scholarship, and was able to turn it into a series championship this past season driving for Cape Motorsports.

“Oliver Askew is proof of what the Shootout can lead to for a young driver,” said John Doonan, Director of Mazda Motorsports in North America. “With very little experience in race cars, Oliver won the inaugural $200,000 scholarship and turned it into a USF2000 championship in 2017. He is the embodiment of what the Mazda driver development scholarships are all about: giving young drivers the opportunity to move up the racing ladder all the way to the Verizon IndyCar series. We can’t wait to see who the next Shootout winner will be.”

The following series’ champions will each be issued an entry ticket for the shootout, as long as they fit the age requirement.

  • BRSCC Britcover/Avon Tires FF1600 Championship (England)
  • Pacific F2000 Championship (USA)
  • Formula Panam (Mexico)
  • Beatson’s Scottish FF1600 Championship (Scotland)
  • New Zealand Formula 1600 Championship (New Zealand)
  • MMSC MRF F1600 Indian Championship (India)
  • Formula Tour 1600 (Canada)
  • Formula Ford Super Series (England)
  • Australian Formula Ford Championship (Australia)
  • Formula Car Challenge Presented by Goodyear (USA)
  • F1600 Formula F Championship Series (USA)
  • Team USA Scholarship (USA)
  • Formula Ford Festival (England)
  • Walter Hayes Trophy (England)
  • Dawson WAM Northern Ireland Formula Ford 1600 Championship (Ireland)
  • SCCA National Championship Runoffs (USA)
  • Selectiva de Kart Petrobras (Brazil)

Four of the champions have already been crowned, with the following competitors already recieving their invites – Liam Lawson, 14, of Pukekohe, New Zealand representing the New Zealand Formula 1600 Championship; Niall Murray, 22, of Dublin, Ireland, representing the Dawson WAM Northern Ireland Formula Ford 1600 Championship; Olin Galli, 21, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, representing Selectiva de kart Petrobras; and Ross Martin, 16, of Kilmaronock, Scotland, representing the Scottish Motor Racing Club Formula Ford 1600 Championship.

A full schedule and program of events will be announced in the near future.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

Telitz Bookends Indy Lights Season in Style as Kaiser Clinches Title

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Aaron Telitz, from Birchwood, Wis., put on a clinic today in treacherous conditions to win the Mazda Indy Lights Watkins Glen Grand Prix Presented by Cooper Tires, while Juncos Racing’s Kyle Kaiser wrapped up the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship title with a steady seventh-place finish.
 
Telitz’s Belardi Auto Racing teammate, Santi Urrutia, from Uruguay, finished in second place, well clear of Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing’s polesitter Colton Herta, from Valencia, Calif.
 
Steady rain shortly before the start ensured the entire field was on wet-weather Cooper tires, and following an additional pace lap to permit the drivers an opportunity to assess the track conditions, it was Herta, the youngest driver in the field at age 17, who led on the long downhill run toward Turn One. Telitz, who started third, immediately thrust to the inside under braking to claim the advantage, only for Herta to fight back as they swept into the uphill Esses for the first time.
 
Urrutia, too, was in the mix, ensuring a spectacular first few laps as the three leaders traded positions numerous times before Telitz overtook Herta one more time in opportunistic style at Turn Eight. He then began to edge away as Herta and Urrutia continued to squabble over second place.
 
Urrutia finally made the position his own on Lap Seven, but by then the impressive Telitz was already nearly seven seconds up the road.
Herta couldn’t match their pace but still remained clear of Andretti Autosport teammate Nico Jamin, from Rouen, France, who had overtaken Zachary Claman DeMelo (Carlin), from Montreal, Canada, on Lap Four.
 
Urrutia set sail – almost literally – after Telitz, narrowing the deficit to around four seconds before Telitz responded with a new best lap of the race on Lap 14, just as the yellow flags flew after Andretti Autosport’s Dalton Kellett lost control and crashed at the Inner Loop.
The rain intensified during the clean-up process, leaving officials no choice but to display the red flag in the hope that conditions would improve. Thankfully, they did, and after a 12-minute delay the race was on again for a seven-lap dash to the finish.
 
Telitz was unfazed, despite intense pressure from his more experienced teammate, Urrutia, who, coincidentally, had preceded him as winner of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires in 2015. The pair romped clear of the field, with Telitz posting three successive fastest laps of the race to seal the victory and ensure that he ended the season as he had begun it on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., in March – with an emphatic victory. He also claimed the Staubli Award.
 
In addition to cementing his unenviable position as championship runner-up for the second successive year, Urrutia’s second-place finish ensured a come-from-behind victory in the Team Championship for Belardi Auto Racing by a slender four-point margin over Andretti Autosport.
 
Herta finished third ahead of Carlin’s Matheus Leist, from Brazil, who earned the Tilton Hard Charger after a fine drive from ninth on the grid.
 
All three series which comprise the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires will celebrate with a traditional end-of-season banquet tomorrow evening, Monday, in Watkins Glen. A total of $2,682,000 in Mazda Scholarships and awards will be distributed, including a prize valued at $1 million which will guarantee Kaiser entry into three Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2018, including the 102nd Indianapolis 500.
 
Aaron Telitz (#9 Mazda/Rice Lake Weighing Systems-Belardi Auto Racing): “I think relief is my primary emotion – the team joked with me that I might not remember how to get to Victory Lane. But it was a great way to end the year. It gives me a lot of confidence going into the off season, thinking that all the hard work was worth it. But it was pretty slippery out there! The start was tricky but I had some rain experience here earlier in the year – we did a Cooper Tire test and it was raining in the afternoon, so I thought I would go out and run in the rain. I did about 10 laps, so I knew where the grip was going to be on the track, whereas everyone else was still figuring it out. But by the end of the race, Santi figured it out. I knew the red flag would be coming but I didn’t want to win it in the pits. The team was telling us that if we finished 1-2 we would win the team championship, so ‘don’t crash’ was definitely coming through on the radio.”
 
Santi Urrutia (#5 Belardi Auto Racing w/SPM): “Aaron and I had different setups and I had problems on the first part of the track. The car was good but I was struggling early to find the lines. I had some chances to pass Aaron, especially on the restart when he made a mistake in Turn One but after that we were running the same speed and I decided to stay in second place. That earned us the team championship and vice championship for me again. I had some issues early in the season but when we got them sorted out everything started going the right way. We had a really strong second half so we have been competitive. My goal was to win the championship but we were 11th after Road America. To finish second is good. It was a good year – I won my first oval, which was great, and I hope I can go to IndyCar next year.”
 
Colton Herta (#98 Deltro Energy Mazda/Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing): “It was hairy for sure, going side-by-side through the Esses on the first lap. It was my first time in the wet with the car so it was a learning experience for the first few laps but I got settled in and started working on getting my lap times in and not making any mistakes. We had an amazing year, just missed tying my dad for poles in a season – thanks, dad! It was a good year. I got a ton of experience in all different kinds of conditions and I loved it! I hope to be back next year.”
 
Kyle Kaiser (#18 Juncos Racing): “I never could have imagined this at age 7, getting into a kart for the first time. It has been an absolute dream. But it’s been a strange feeling today, because it wasn’t the best race. The championship never entered my mind during the race – I was just trying to manage the conditions. I think these were the trickiest conditions we’ve had all year. I tried pushing and that’s why I spun. But I just really wanted to bring the car home. We just won the Indy Lights championship and it’s time to celebrate. When I got to the podium and Dan Andersen, John Doonan and Chris Pantani were there to give me the champion’s trophy, I started to realize that it was real. 
 
“I am so appreciative of my time on the Mazda Road to Indy. The new Indy Lights car has been a perfect transition. The experience I’ve gained these past three years, not rushing it or wanting to move up too soon has been so valuable. All the race experience will translate into IndyCar.”
 
###
 
About Indy Lights: Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires is the third and final step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires. Sanctioned by INDYCAR, the series is operated by Andersen Promotions, which oversees all three levels of the ladder system. The Indy Lights champion is awarded a scholarship valued at $1M toward the Verizon IndyCar Series. The series has a rich history as a development platform for many of today’s top drivers. For more information, visit indylights.com and roadtoindy.info.
 
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports: Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is also the title sponsor of the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook. 
 
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is the parent company of a global family of companies that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of innovative, great-performing tires that you can count on to last for thousands of miles, getting you where you need to go, and back again. Cooper is proud to be the spec tire for all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, a development program within the IndyCar racing series. Cooper tires can also be seen on the track as a sponsor in the short course off-road TORC Series. Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design operations in more than one dozen countries around the world. To connect with Cooper, visit www.coopertire.comwww.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/coopertire.
Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

Franzoni’s Victory Seals Pro Mazda Title at a Soggy Watkins Glen

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Come wet or dry, Victor Franzoni and Juncos Racing have been the class of the field in this year’s Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. They have been pushed hard by Anthony Martin and Cape Motorsports, but a commanding performance this morning in tricky wet conditions in the Pro Mazda Watkins Glen Grand Prix Presented by Cooper Tires saw Franzoni, 21, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, lead from flag to flag in the series finale. 
 
Franzoni’s seventh win of the season assured him of both the championship crown and a Mazda Scholarship worth almost $800,000 to assist in his progression to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the top rung on the Mazda Road to Indy open-wheel development ladder, in 2018.
 
Fellow Brazilian Carlos Cunha posted another strong performance to claim second place for Team Pelfrey, while Martin, from Perth, Australia, had to settle for a distant third.
 
Steady overnight rain had dissipated to merely a drizzle as the Pro Mazda cars assembled on the grid. The ambient temperature was a cool 54 degrees but the pressure was high with so much at stake for the two championship contenders, Franzoni and Martin, who were separated by just eight points following the Brazilian’s win yesterday.
 
Franzoni had extended that lead by one more point when he qualified on pole in damp conditions yesterday evening, and he made a picture-perfect getaway from the rolling start to lead into Turn One. Cunha tucked into second ahead of a fast-starting Martin, who had lined up fifth on the grid following a two-place penalty for failing to acknowledge the checkered flag at the conclusion of qualifying.
 
Franzoni completed the opening lap with a huge 2.6-second lead as Cunha battled to keep Martin at bay. Their tussle continued until the fourth lap when Martin’s move to the inside under braking for Turn One was strongly resisted, which led to light contact and a lurid spin for Martin.
 
At that point all Franzoni needed to do was reel off the laps to cap a remarkable season in which he finished all 12 races either first or second. He also secured Ricardo Juncos’ seventh PFC Award as the winning car owner. Franzoni led by as much as 6.7 seconds before easing his pace and eventually taking the checkered flag just 1.5903 seconds clear of Cunha, who rounded out a fine rookie campaign by posting the only sub-two-minute laps of the race.
 
Martin finished a disappointed but valiant third, well clear of Los Angeles-based Russian Nikita Lastochkin, whose fourth-place finish secured the coveted Team Championship for Team Pelfrey.
 
Californian T.J. Fischer (Team Pelfrey) claimed the Quarter Master Hard Charger Award after overcoming some mechanical problems yesterday and climbing from 12th on the grid to fifth. Sting Ray Robb (World Speed Motorsports), from Payette, Idaho, recovered from an early spin to pass Pittsburgh, Pa.’s Matt Machiko (ArmsUp Motorsports), who earned the Staubli Award.
 
Victor Franzoni (#23 Juncos Racing): “I am so happy, but there are so many things in my mind right now. It’s unbelievable. So many people helped me to get into Pro Mazda this season. I grew up five or 10 years in my career this season. The difference for me was Juncos Racing this year, they gave me such a great car. The fight with Anthony was incredible. He’s really, really good. I had to push so hard to stay with him. We were so close in every single race and pushed to the limit all the time. This was the hardest season of my life, because I knew I could not make a mistake. We both did a great job and I think we both deserve to move forward. I want to thank everyone at Mazda, Cooper Tires and Andersen Promotions. 
 
“There were so many things on my mind on that last lap that I couldn’t focus. The team told me to be careful when the white flag came out, and suddenly, I couldn’t drive! When I saw the checkered, it was so great. To know where I will be next year now is the best thing in the world. I didn’t get just prize money today, I got hope.”
Carlos Cunha (#81 Team Pelfrey): “I’m so happy for Victor. It’s amazing to see a Brazilian and a friend win the championship. We tried everything we could but these guys [Franzoni, Martin] were too strong for me. The racing was amazing in the series this year. I kept trying to push more and more. It was a fun run, a fun season. I learned a lot with these two guys. It was amazing and I need to say ’thank you.’”
Anthony Martin (#8 Mazda/Burgess BLA-Cape Motorsports): “I was pushing 150 percent out there with the championship on the line. It sucks to be the first loser, as I call it, but I gave it my all. I didn’t leave anything out there. I’m very disappointed not to take the championship but I had a great time this year. I was a Mazda Scholarship driver, which is something I never thought I would be when I first arrived in America. To come this far and to not take the championship is bittersweet. The season has been one big bumpy rollercoaster. Victor and I traded the lead I don’t know how many times, and we had some intense battles. Congratulations to Victor and to Juncos Racing. Consistency wins and they were just a little more consistent than me.”
 
###
 
About Pro Mazda: The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires debuted in 2013 as a new series, replacing the Star Mazda Championship which ceased operation in 2012 after 22 years. The series is sanctioned by INDYCAR and owned and operated by Andersen Promotions. It is the second official step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder system with the series’ champion awarded a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competition the following year. For more information, visit promazdachampionship.com
 
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports: Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is also the title sponsor of the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook. 
 
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is the parent company of a global family of companies that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of innovative, great-performing tires that you can count on to last for thousands of miles, getting you where you need to go, and back again. Cooper is proud to be the spec tire for all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, a development program within the IndyCar racing series. Cooper tires can also be seen on the track as a sponsor in the short course off-road TORC Series. Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design operations in more than one dozen countries around the world. To connect with Cooper, visit www.coopertire.comwww.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/coopertire.
Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

MRTI Observations: Pro Mazda Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race 1

Picking up his second straight Pro Mazda Presented by Cooper Tires victory at Watkins Glen, Victor Franzoni extends his advantage over Anthony Martin heading into the final event of the season.

Here are the observations from the first event of the weekend.

Doing It Right

Over the past couple of months, Franzoni and Martin have traded wins back and forth, along with the points lead, as they battle it out for the scholarship to move up to the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires full-time in 2018.

Following his victory at Gateway Motorsports Park, Franzoni entered Watkins Glen with a two-point lead over Martin.

Initially, it looked as though the advantage would shift to Martin as he took the advantage on Lap 1 with a move on the outside off of turn three, and pass through the bus stop. If Martin had won, it would put him up by two points entering Sunday’s Soul Red Finale.

But Franzoni did what he needed to do, making the same move back on Martin on Lap 12 to take back the lead, before holding serve the rest of the way. Now going into tomorrow, Franzoni has a cushion being eight markers up on Martin.

Problematic Pelfrey

Team Pelfrey entered four drivers into the finale, hoping to end off the campaign in victory lane. However, it did not play out as warranted.

Two of their competitors saw their races end on Lap 2 when Robert Meginnis, from contact or by himself, got sideways while battling for fourth in turn nine, and collected his teammate Nikita Lastochkin.

Then on the restart, T.J. Fischer did not get going as he wanted, dropping back to seventh from fourth, before contact with Kris Wright sent him off track, and ending his race with a flat tire.

The only good news was Carlos Cunha, who rounded out the podium to give them a top-five.

Competitive Racing

Although some races this year have been snooze fests with an inability to pass, this wasn’t one of those. The leaders traded the top spot twice, and positions fourth to seventh were on everyone’s mind through the second half with position changes throughout.

With this in mind, tomorrow’s setting looks to be the perfect place to cap off the year, with the possibility for an exciting close to a great campaign.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

VeeKay Wins the Battle as Askew Secures USF2000 Title

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Rinus VeeKay from Hoofddorp, the Netherlands, came from behind this afternoon at the famed Watkins Glen International road course to secure an emphatic third victory of the season for Pabst Racing in the 14th and final round of the year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. But the 16-year-old’s joy was tempered because he knew that second place was more than enough for fellow rookie Oliver Askew (Cape Motorsports), 20, from Jupiter, Fla., to secure the championship and a Mazda Scholarship worth almost $400,000 to ensure graduation to the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, the next step on the Mazda Road to Indy open-wheel development ladder, in 2018.
 
VeeKay’s teammate, Calvin Ming, from Guyana, vaulted from sixth on the grid to finish on the podium for the sixth time during another strong rookie campaign.
 
The pressure was palpable this morning during qualifying, with every championship point crucial for the two title contenders. After being comfortably fastest in the opening practice session on Friday, VeeKay, who trailed by 13 points,  had opted to run a minimum of laps in the second session to ensure he would have two virtually brand-new sets of Cooper tires – one for qualifying and another for the race. 
But then Askew stepped up in qualifying, posting a new lap record even faster than the old Pro Mazda mark to snatch his eighth pole of the season. VeeKay tried his best but came up just over a tenth of a second shy to ensure the two rivals would start side by side on the front row of the grid.
 
Askew took full advantage by leading from the start, only for VeeKay to challenge him on the outside line into Turn One. Askew wisely didn’t force the issue and it was VeeKay who emerged in the lead. Indeed, the young Dutch sensation was never seriously threatened as he romped clear, turning a string of consistently fast laps to take the victory by a commanding 9.6053 seconds.
 
Askew was more than content to run in second, secure in the knowledge that after already earning one championship point in qualifying, all he required was a fourth-place finish to achieve his goal. He did so by seven points, 351-344.
 
Ming remained close behind in third but was never quite close enough to challenge.
 
Kaylen Frederick, from Potomac, Md., the youngest driver in the field at age 15, finished fourth for Team Pelfrey, while David Malukas (BN Racing), from Chicago Ridge, Ill., charged from 14th on the grid to fifth. He also recorded the second fastest lap of the race.
 
DE Force teammates Andres Gutierrez, from Monterrey, Mexico, and Kory Enders, from Warwick, N.Y., couldn’t quite match their form from qualifying, which saw them share the second row of the grid, but still finished well in sixth and seventh, followed by Darren Keane (Newman Wachs Racing), from Parkland, Fla., who drove well to overcome a crash during first practice, Brazilian Lucas Kohl (Pabst Racing) and Robert Megennis (Team Pelfrey), from New York, N.Y., who earned the Tilton Hard Charger Award after rising from 20th on the grid to 10th.
 
Augie Pabst claimed the PFC Award as the winning team owner, while South African Callan O’Keeffe finished 12th to secure the Staubli Award for Team BENIK.
 
Rinus VeeKay (#21 Jumbo Supermarkets The Netherlands/Total-Pabst Racing): “I’m happy but I could be happier. I hadn’t really planned to pass Oliver at the start but I saw him brake for the inside and I went for the outside and all of the sudden I passed him. We had a good race down the back straight but I didn’t want to give the position back. I think he backed off to be sure of the position for the championship, but I put my head down and got away from the field. I will take some time in the off-season and figure out what I want to do next year. I definitely want to stay in the Mazda Road to Indy. I don’t know where on the ladder but I think we will move up. It was a great season, with 12 podiums out of 14 races with three wins, so I cannot thank the Pabst team enough for giving me a great car and getting better every weekend.”
 
Oliver Askew (#3 Mazda Motorsports/MC Racing-Cape Motorsports): “I’ve dreamed about this moment for so long. It’s such a huge weight off my shoulders, to be champion. My learning curve has been really steep this year but I’ve had so many great people around me who have helped me progress. I learned something every day at the racetrack. The priority was to finish on the podium in case Rinus won and got maximum points, and we did that. I just did the best I could to keep Calvin behind me. I can’t thank the Cape team enough. We started on the wrong foot this weekend but once again when it counted we got pole and I had a great car. I’m so happy to be able to continue my relationship with Mazda and Cooper Tires, they’ve helped me so much. Thanks also to Team USA Scholarship for giving me the opportunity, and Rising Star Racing. This is not going to sink in for a while – I can’t wait for next year!”
 
###
 
About USF2000: The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda debuted in 2010 and is a continuation of the highly-regarded USF2000 series which ran from 1990 through 2006, launching the careers of many of today’s top drivers. Sanctioned by INDYCAR and managed by Andersen Promotions, the series is the first official step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder system. The top driver in the Championship class will earn a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires the following year. Additional information can be found at www.usf2000.com and at RoadToIndy.Info.
 
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports: Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is also the title sponsor of the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook. 
 
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is the parent company of a global family of companies that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of innovative, great-performing tires that you can count on to last for thousands of miles, getting you where you need to go, and back again. Cooper is proud to be the spec tire for all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, a development program within the IndyCar racing series. Cooper tires can also be seen on the track as a sponsor in the short course off-road TORC Series. Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design operations in more than one dozen countries around the world. To connect with Cooper, visit www.coopertire.comwww.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/coopertire.
Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

Advantage Franzoni at Watkins Glen After Sixth Pro Mazda Victory

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Victor Franzoni (Juncos Racing) extended his slender lead over Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires rival Anthony Martin (Cape Motorsports) by virtue of a hard-fought victory this afternoon in the first of two races that comprise the Pro Mazda Watkins Glen Grand Prix Presented by Cooper Tires. The Brazilian now holds an eight-point edge with a Mazda Scholarship worth almost $800,000 on the line in tomorrow morning’s final race of the season.
 
A third-place finish for fellow Brazilian Carlos Cunha enabled him to vault ahead of Team Pelfrey teammate TJ Fischer in their scrap for third place in the championship. The result also allowed Team Pelfrey to stretch its lead in the Team Championship to six points over Juncos Racing.
 
The two title protagonists were separated by just two points as they headed to upstate New York for this weekend’s final double-header, but that gap was extended by one after qualifying yesterday afternoon when Franzoni posted a new track record of 1:42.4376, an average speed of 118.433 mph, to secure his fourth pole of the season by a handsome margin of 0.8121 seconds.
 
In markedly cooler conditions today, the front row pair took off in lock step with Martin, from Perth, Australia, intent upon not allowing Franzoni to stretch away. Even better, Martin took advantage of an aggressive run through the Esses on the opening lap, plus a good draft, to tow past as the leaders headed toward the Inner Loop.
 
The race was neutralized before the end of the second lap when Pro Mazda debutant Robert Megennis (Team Pelfrey), from New York, N.Y., lost control and crashed heavily at Turn Nine. Innocent teammate Nikita Lastochkin, who had been embroiled in a close battle for third in the championship, was unable to avoid the wreckage and also crashed out of the race.
 
Even though Martin led away from the restart, it quickly became apparent that Franzoni had the faster car. The Brazilian tried a couple of times to make a bold outside-line pass at the toe of the boot (Turn Seven), only to be rebuffed each time. Finally, on Lap 12, Franzoni virtually mirrored the earlier pass by Martin as he drafted into the lead prior to the Inner Loop. Franzoni then romped away over the final couple of laps, posting comfortably the fastest lap of the race at a new record 1:43.5737 (117.134 mph) before taking the checkered flag a full 3.5743 seconds clear to claim his sixth win of the season and the sixth PFC Award for winning team owner Ricardo Juncos.
 
Martin couldn’t match that pace and instead had to concentrate on maintaining second place ahead of Cunha, which he achieved by less than one second.
 
Sting Ray Robb (World Speed Motorsports), from Payette, Idaho, finished a distant fourth, well clear of Kris Wright (JDC MotorSports), who worked his way from 10th on the grid to secure the Staubli Award. Matt Machiko (ArmsUp Motorsports), from Pittsburgh, Pa., enjoyed a strong return to the series for the first time since May, snaring the Quarter Master Hard Charger Award after rising from 10th on the grid to sixth.
 
Brendan Puderbach, from the Bronx, N.Y., finished eighth for FatBoy Racing! to secure the National Class Championship crown.
Another qualifying session later today will set the starting grid for tomorrow’s 12th and final round of the season, which is due to start at 7:55 a.m. EDT.
 
Victor Franzoni (#23 Juncos Racing): “My only thought during the race was to pass Anthony. I had to win but at the same time I had to stay calm enough not to make any mistakes. It’s been this way all year long and that’s taught me a lot. I had close to a perfect race, pushing as hard as I could. I waited to make a move until we were through the fast corners, somewhere I knew I could get a gap. Once I was able to get back around, I didn’t check the mirrors at all, I just focused on the next turn. I was not trying to save anything. The Juncos guys are so great, everything they do has helped me. I had five guys talking to me during qualifying, but I told them not to speak during the race because I had to focus. I’m enjoying this season so much and I’m hoping to win the championship and keep going with them.”
 
Anthony Martin (#8 Mazda/Burgess BLA-Cape Motorsports): “There’s one more race – and if it’s a wet race, that throws another spanner in the works. Anything can happen so I can’t get too excited now. I was able to get a good run on Victor going into the Bus Stop, and it turned out to be pretty much an identical move to the one he did on me later. My car fell off the cliff a bit late so he was right on my gearbox toward the end. We didn’t want to push the limits of the rules – I’m not like that. I want to race fairly and cleanly. There’s only so much you can do but it was exciting. We’ve been racing hard all year. We give each other room and that’s important.”
 
Carlos Cunha (#81 Team Pelfrey): “I saw right away that I didn’t have the pace those guys had but with their battle I could stay right behind them. Our target was to finish third in the championship, so now I want to try everything to get by these guys. Of course, I’m not going to get in the middle of their championship but I am going to try everything to be in front.”
 
###
 
About Pro Mazda: The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires debuted in 2013 as a new series, replacing the Star Mazda Championship which ceased operation in 2012 after 22 years. The series is sanctioned by INDYCAR and owned and operated by Andersen Promotions. It is the second official step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder system with the series’ champion awarded a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competition the following year. For more information, visit promazdachampionship.com
 
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports: Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is also the title sponsor of the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook. 
 
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is the parent company of a global family of companies that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of innovative, great-performing tires that you can count on to last for thousands of miles, getting you where you need to go, and back again. Cooper is proud to be the spec tire for all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, a development program within the IndyCar racing series. Cooper tires can also be seen on the track as a sponsor in the short course off-road TORC Series. Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design operations in more than one dozen countries around the world. To connect with Cooper, visit www.coopertire.comwww.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/coopertire.
 
Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

Askew Holds Advantage Over Veekay Heading into Finale

After Oliver Askew won five straight Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda races in the first half of the season, a lot of people locked him as the series title holder. However, the trophy engraving may have begun a little too soon.

Entering the season finale on Saturday at Watkins Glen International, Askew only holds a 13-point advantage over Rinus Veekay. 

Since winning the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout to get the scholarship to run this season, Askew has been fast and nearly unstoppable. His statistics will ultimately go down as some of the best in series history, with seven victories and 11 podium finishes in 13 races. 

“I have been working harder than I ever have to secure this championship,” Askew said. “I think the same can be said about Cape Motorsports and everyone around me that has helped get to this point. We all want this, and if we keep doing what we have been every race so far this season, I don’t see a reason why it can’t happen. The mindset that I’ve developed throughout this year will be the same in the final race – I will be focusing on the elements within my control and will maximize the opportunity given to me.”

Though he’s been fast, he slipped up twice this season. He finished 17th at Road America following a steering rack issue, and then was caught up in a crash in Toronto en route to placing 12th. 

Both times, Rinus Veekay has been right there to capitalize, consistently scoring points over the year with no finishes outside of the top-six, including 11 podiums. Although those results are strong, they haven’t proven enough when compared to Askew’s victories. 

When the green flag drops on Saturday, though, don’t expect Veekay to be thinking about that.

“You start the race and just forget about everything else. Otherwise, you can go crazy,” Veekay said. “Don’t worry about plans, just react to what’s happening. But to get 11 podiums in 13 races so far is a great year. It was a difficult beginning, but to get where we are now – I was reading on Twitter the other day, and I didn’t realize it, but I have never lost a position in a race. I have equaled my qualifying position or moved up. It was the best start you can have in your first year in racing.”

So who holds the advantage here?

Askew has proven to be quick on a weekly basis, and this weekend should be no different. If he can run up front and score another podium, the championship is easily his.

However, with 33 points on the table, any slip up could swing the results in Veekay’s favor. So Askew will be wanting to push hard and try to score another win, being a little conservative at times could be useful to protect the advantage.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

Urrutia Wins a Thriller on Indy Lights Return to Gateway Motorsports Park

Fourth-place Finish Means Kaiser Merely Needs to Start Practice at Finale
 
MADISON, Ill. – Santi Urrutia claimed a last-gasp victory in this evening’s Mazda St. Louis Indy Lights Oval Challenge Presented by Cooper Tires at the 1.25-mile Gateway Motorsports Park oval. The Uruguayan’s second win of the season for Belardi Auto Racing came after a tense battle with fellow South American Juan Piedrahita, who started from the pole position for Team Pelfrey but had to be content with a career-best second place finish.
 
Second-generation Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires racer Colton Herta finished third for Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing, narrowly ahead of fellow Californian Kyle Kaiser (Juncos Racing). The result means Kaiser merely needs to take the green flag for practice at next weekend’s season finale on the Watkins Glen International road circuit in upstate New York to put the coveted championship title beyond the reach of his rivals and secure a Mazda Scholarship valued at $1 million which will guarantee him entry into three Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2018, including the 102nd Indianapolis 500.
 
Indy Lights’ return to Gateway Motorsports Park following a 14-year absence proved to be a huge success as the large and appreciative crowd was treated to a thrilling 75-lap race.
 
Both Urrutia and Herta, who arrived at Gateway tied for second place in the championship, knew they needed to win the two remaining races to have any chance of beating Kaiser to the crown. In short, it was a long shot.
 
Urrutia, who lost out on the 2016 title in heartbreaking style at the season finale, did his level best to secure the additional championship point for pole position, only to be denied by series veteran Piedrahita – by a scant 0.006 of a second. Nevertheless, he knew his dream was still alive when he lined up on the front row of the grid.
 
The opening stages were marred by a succession of incidents. Aaron Telitz, last year’s winner of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, was particularly unfortunate when his Soul Red Belardi Auto Racing Dallara-Mazda was collected by a couple of spinners on the very first lap.
 
When the race finally got under way, with Piedrahita narrowly maintaining his advantage, Kaiser laid clean his intentions by passing Urrutia for second place around the outside in Turn Two. He didn’t hold it for long as Urrutia repaid the favor on Lap 15 and immediately began to pressure Piedrahita for the lead.
 
Kaiser, meanwhile, soon slipped back into the clutches of a battling Nico Jamin (Andretti Autosport), Herta – who earned the Tilton Hard Charger Award, Kaiser’s teammate Nico Dapero and Matheus Leist (Carlin), who had won the two previous ovals raced this season and quickly fought his way up from a lowly 12th on the grid.
 
Urrutia finally found a chink in Piedrahita’s armor on Lap 42, when he sliced past on the exit of Turn Four, but by then he had already lost any chance of gaining one of the other bonus points – for leading most laps. A little later in the race, on Lap 61, Zachary Claman DeMelo (Carlin) put the final bonus point – for fastest race lap – beyond Urrutia’s reach when he turned a lap in 28.0370 seconds, an average speed of 160.502 mph.
 
Still, Urrutia had eked out a margin of almost 1.5 seconds with 15 laps remaining, so at least the race win seemed to be well within his grasp. Furthermore, by then Kaiser had been overtaken firstly by Jamin and then by Leist and DeMelo.
 
But then the complexion of the race changed again when Carlin teammates Neil Alberico and Garth Rickards, who were battling for the 11th position, tangled with the slower car of debutant Chad Boat (Belardi Auto Racing), who earned the Staubli Award.
 
Officials wisely displayed the red flag while the wreckage was cleared away, leaving enough time for what was expected to be a five-lap shootout to the checkered flag. Piedrahita promptly made an opportunistic move around the outside of Urrutia at the restart, only for the yellows to fly again following an incident involving the third and fourth-placed cars of Jamin and Leist. 
The green flew again with just three laps remaining. Urrutia knew it was now or never. He and Piedrahita battled side by side for almost two full laps before Urrutia completed the pass and sped away to a brilliant victory. Herta emerged in third, while Kaiser, who narrowly escaped becoming embroiled in the drama, crossed the line in fourth to ensure that his own dream was almost accomplished.
Kaiser now holds an unassailable 31-point edge as the series heads to Watkins Glen next weekend, although he will still need to turn up and practice for the race in order to be assured of the championship spoils.
 
The Team Championship remains more finely poised, with Andretti Autosport holding a 11-point lead, 364-353, over Belardi Auto Racing. Last year’s champions Carlin now trail in third on 345 points.
 
Santi Urrutia (#5 Belardi Auto Racing w/SPM): “It was one of the best races of the year – competitive, clean and really exciting. It was good racing against Juan. He was quicker than me on the straight and I was better in Turns One and Two so when he made a small mistake in Turn One, I was able to get past. When the red came out, I was worried because I thought he would be able to pass me on the restart. When that happened, I knew it was my last chance and I had to try to get by. I’m happy – I did what I had to do today; the rest was out of our control. We had a difficult start to the season but the second half we have been really strong, and I hope races like this will help me be in IndyCar next year.”
 
Juan Piedrahita (#2 Petrosur-Team Pelfrey): “There were two perfect cars this weekend: my car and Santi’s car. It just happened that his car was perfect in Turns One and Two and my car was perfect in Turns Three and Four, so we could get a run on each other but not hold it. I gave it my all today. It feels awesome to be up front, but I’m heartbroken not to get the win for the team. But Santi did a great job. I kept hoping the race would end, because it was so difficult mentally. I didn’t know what he was going to do. I had a run on him, then he had a run on me – it was crazy. We both did a great job and I hope I can get the win at Watkins Glen.”
 
Colton Herta (#98 Deltro Energy Mazda-Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing): “It was discombobulating, between the yellows and the red flag, so it was a tough race, but I also think it was one of the best races of the year. We came into the red flag in seventh and made some good moves on the restart. I think if we had a few more laps we could have challenged for the win. The year has gone so quickly, and I’m happy with what we’ve done this year. I didn’t expect to be in the title chase our first year; we planned on a two-year program. So we’re ahead of the game.”
 
###
 
About Indy Lights: Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires is the third and final step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires. Sanctioned by INDYCAR, the series is operated by Andersen Promotions, which oversees all three levels of the ladder system. The Indy Lights champion is awarded a scholarship valued at $1M toward the Verizon IndyCar Series. The series has a rich history as a development platform for many of today’s top drivers. For more information, visit indylights.com and roadtoindy.info.
 
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports: Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is also the title sponsor of the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook. 
 
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is the parent company of a global family of companies that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of innovative, great-performing tires that you can count on to last for thousands of miles, getting you where you need to go, and back again. Cooper is proud to be the spec tire for all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, a development program within the IndyCar racing series. Cooper tires can also be seen on the track as a sponsor in the short course off-road TORC Series. Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design operations in more than one dozen countries around the world. To connect with Cooper, visit www.coopertire.comwww.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/coopertire.
Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

Franzoni Reclaims Points Lead with Gateway Win

Madison, Ill. – The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires made its inaugural visit to Gateway Motorsports Park a memorable one as title rivals Victor Franzoni and Anthony Martin once again traded the lead of the championship as Franzoni claimed his fifth victory of the season in this afternoon’s St. Louis Pro Mazda Oval Challenge Presented by Cooper Tires. The pair now share five wins apiece.
 
Martin, of Cape Motorsports, took pole position in qualifying earlier this afternoon – his sixth pole of the season – with Juncos Racing’s Franzoni a close second. Martin held the advantage at the start but a yellow followed shortly after the green flag following a spin by Jeff Green (Juncos Racing) and Brendan Puderbach (Fat Boy Racing!). The battle for the lead resumed on Lap 3 with some entertaining side-by-side racing between the two.
 
Carlos Cunha of Team Pelfrey, who qualified fourth, managed to pass teammate TJ Fischer and briefly enter the fray at the front of the field. Franzoni made several attempts to get around Martin on the high side and finally made the move stick on Lap 18. Once past Martin, Franzoni romped to the checkered flag with a 4.6 second lead claiming the bonus points for most laps led and fastest race lap. 
Cunha held off Fischer to claim his fourth podium of the season and narrow the gap to Fischer to just five points for third in the championship. 
 
Jeff Green recovered from his earlier spin to pass the third Team Pelfrey car of Nikita Lastochkin and finish fifth, earning the Staubli Award. The Quarter Master Hard Charger Award went to World Speed Motorsports’ Sting Ray Robb with a gain of two positions. Juncos Racing earned the PFC Award.
 
Franzoni now leads Martin by two points (287 to 285) with the final two races on the docket coming down to the season finale at Watkins Glen International next weekend.
 
Victor Franzoni (#23 Juncos Racing): “After qualifying, I wasn’t sure we could do it, since I was three-tenths slower than him. We thought, we’ll make some big changes and just hope to survive and finish second. But when I passed him and started to pull away, I knew the changes worked. Here, we had to have a little bit more respect for each other, because the ovals are more dangerous and things happen so fast. But both of us were so focused on winning. I had to try outside in Turn One on the first lap and it was crazy oversteer, I thought I would go into the wall. I tried a couple of lines until I found one that worked. I think we’ll be really strong next weekend, so I’m very confident for the championship.”
 
Anthony Martin (#8 Mazda/Burgess BLA – Cape Motorsports): “We were fighting really hard at the start. We struggled with the car a little bit during the race while Victor and the Juncos team had a really good car and really good race pace. He was just able to make the car stick in Turn One and get around, and I couldn’t stay with him. We were fast all weekend so it’s a shame to finish it like that, but we took good points, and he’s only two points ahead. It doesn’t matter who’s ahead and who’s behind, you go in to win the race. At this point, I have to get all the points I can so you forget the championship, really. You have to win, there’s nothing else. I’m going to go into the last two races striving to do my best. Anything can happen at Watkins Glen so we’ll go in with guns blazing.”
 
Carlos Cunha (#81 Team Pelfrey): “I think ovals are amazing! I thought it would be easy but when we came here for the test two weeks ago, I realized it would not be easy. I actually touched the wall twice during the race. You need to be technical all the time and tell the engineers the right things because the car is the most important. You have to drive on the limit and you get what you get – and for us, that was third place today. Victor and Anthony had better place but for my first oval, it was good. I had no mistakes and we finished on the podium. I’m really excited to do another oval.”
 
###
 
About Pro Mazda: The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires debuted in 2013 as a new series, replacing the Star Mazda Championship which ceased operation in 2012 after 22 years. The series is sanctioned by INDYCAR and owned and operated by Andersen Promotions. It is the second official step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder system with the series’ champion awarded a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competition the following year. For more information, visit promazdachampionship.com
 
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports: Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is also the title sponsor of the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook. 
 
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is the parent company of a global family of companies that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of innovative, great-performing tires that you can count on to last for thousands of miles, getting you where you need to go, and back again. Cooper is proud to be the spec tire for all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, a development program within the IndyCar racing series. Cooper tires can also be seen on the track as a sponsor in the short course off-road TORC Series. Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design operations in more than one dozen countries around the world. To connect with Cooper, visit www.coopertire.comwww.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/coopertire.
Categories
Mazda Road to Indy Open Wheel

Juncos Racing To Have Three Pro Mazda Entries in 2018

Even with a couple rounds left before the 2017 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires is decided, excitement is building towards next season and the debut of the new car, the Tatuus PM-18.

Juncos Racing became the first team to officially confirm they have purchased chassis for 2018, buying three cars.

“We have been in the Pro Mazda series for nine years now and we would not be where we are today without this series,” Ricardo Juncos said. “This series has not only helped drivers grow into the next level, but has helped us grow as a team and a business. We have grown from a Pro Mazda team only to an Indy Lights and Pro Mazda team and now we are expanding to include the Verizon IndyCar Series. The new PM-18 car will also help us grow our successful Driver Development Program, which this team is based on, by providing a car that is technologically advanced. In the past we have run four cars in the Pro Mazda series, but next year we will start with a three-car program as we continue to expand into the Verizon IndyCar Series. We are looking forward to delivery of the cars in early September, and getting them on track for the Chris Griffis Memorial Test in October.”

This past season, Juncos Racing entered a pair of entries in the second-tier of the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires, with Victor Franzoni sitting second in the standings, just four markers behind Anthony Martin. The organization has won the series title on three different occasions.

“There are few teams in the Pro Mazda paddock with the history of Juncos Racing,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions, which operates all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires. “I am extremely pleased that they’ve stepped up and ordered three of our new PM-18 racecars. This new car will provide vastly increased performance and improved safety, and will close the gap in lap times to Indy Lights. Our goal is to provide the best training for Pro Mazda drivers intent on moving to Indy Lights, and Juncos Racing can certainly offer a great team effort to accomplish that goal.”

The Tatuus PM-18 features a full carbon composite and aluminum honeycomb monocoque chasis manufactured by Tatuus Racing. The 2-litre MZR-PM18A Mazda engines will be prepared by Elite Engines and have a maximum torque of 190 Ft. Lbs. with a fly-by-wire throttle system and Cosworth  SQ6 engine management system.

“The Mazda Road to Indy is far more than a driver development program: it offers the same benefits for teams as well,” said John Doonan, Director of Motorsports for Mazda North American Operations. To see that nearly a decade of involvement in the MRTI by Ricardo Juncos and Juncos Racing led to their entry in the Indianapolis 500 and the Verizon IndyCar Series is something we were thrilled to see. Now, we’re also thrilled to see them continue to commit to the Mazda Road to Indy with the order of the new PM-18 Pro Mazda cars. We’re certain they will remain one of the teams to beat in all of the categories of the program.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.