Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda Winterfest Driver’s Championship

Rank Driver Points
1 Nico Jamin 136
2 Victor Franzoni 131
3 Jake Eidson 128
4 Anthony Martin 110
5 Aaron Telitz 108
6 Parker Thompson 88
7 Garth Rickards 82
8 Jordan Lloyd 76
9 Nikita Lastochkin 66
10 Luke Gabin 65
11 Ayla Agren 64
12 Michai Stephens 57
13 Augie Lerch 55
14 Max Hanratty 55
15 Keyran Andres Soori 36
16 James Dayson 33
17 Yufeng Luo 32
18 Santiago Lozano 19

USF2000 driver thoughts

  • It was no big surprise that the championship came down to three sophomore USF2000 drivers, but it appears it won’t be long before a couple of quick rookies will be fighting for wins.
  • After driving for two teams last year, it looks like Rouen, France native Nico Jamin has found a home at Cape Motorsports with /WTR.  Watching him interact with the Cape brothers and his team, it quickly became obvious that they were having a lot fun.
  • A trio of Australian rookies showed that with experience, they will quickly be contending for podiums.  Anthony Martin, who finished an impressive fourth in the Winterfest championship, has never raced a car with wings and slicks before.  It was also his first time racing with rolling starts.  He didn’t put a wheel wrong in five races.  Jordan Lloyd and Luke Gabin both had incidents in the final race, but before that they had shown good pace.
  • JDC Motorsports driver, Parker Thompson showed good patience and improving speed through each and every session.  Especially impressive given the Red Deer, Alberta native is only 16 years old.
  • Garth Rickards, Ayla Agren and Nikita Lastochkin were all F1600 championship teammates at Team Pelfrey last year and all three improved during Winterfest.  I expect them and the team (this is Pelfrey’s first go with the USF2000 car) to continue to gain on the field as we work towards summer.
  • Team USA Scholarship winner Michai Stephens put together a last minute deal to run Winterfest with Afterburner Autosport and after a slow start at NOLA Motorsports Park (no fault of his own), showed remarkable improvement with each session.  Winterfest ended up on a positive note with a seventh place finish in the final race.
  • Rookies Augie Lerch and Max Hanratty did exactly what they needed to do during Winterfest.  Keep their noses clean and continue to improve.
  • Unfortunately, Keyran Andres Soori (the flu) and Yufeng Luo (family emergency) missed the Barber Motorsports Park races, but both showed top 10 pace at NOLA Motorsports Park.
  • Santiago Lozano and James Dayson continue to show a lot of mettle and a willingness to learn.

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Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire Winterfest Driver’s Championship Standings

Rank Driver Points
1 Jack Aitken 167
2 Weiron Tan 166
3 Dalton Kellett 98
4 Florian Latorre 96
5 Garett Grist 91
6 Will Owen 83
7 Raoul Owens 80
8 Jose Gutierrez 77
9 Timothe Buret 77
10 Alessandro Latif 67
11 Michael Johnson 66
12 Nicholas Latifi 60
13 Bobby Eberle 53
14 Tristan DeGrand 50
15 Daniel Burkett 47
16 Carlos Conde 24

Pro Mazda driver thoughts:

  • Weiron Tan served notice that he will be one of the drivers to beat for the 2015 Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire championship.  He also learned a valuable lesson when failing to show up for a podium, cost him the championship.  But, I was impressed with how he handled losing the championship in this manor and his obvious and sincere regret for his actions at NOLA Motorsports Park.   I had a chance to chat with Tan at an Andretti Autosport media event a week ago, and I was impressed with his attitude towards the challenge of racing in the U.S.A.
  • More on Jack Aitken below, but it is a real shame that we won’t be treated to the “Jack & Tan” show all year.
  • Will Owen and Dalton Kellett were two of the bigger surprises of Winterfest.  Both had proven that they were competent drivers in USF2000, but it appears that both of them found a new gear when they made the move to Pro Mazda.
  • Defending USF2000 champion Florian Latorre took a little while to get wound up last year, but when he did, he was almost unstoppable.  It appears that the same may happen again this year, as the young French driver got faster and faster each session.
  • I expected sophomore Juncos Racing duo Garett Grist and Jose Gutierrez to be contenders for the Winterfest championship, but both struggled with overall pace.  I expect Juncos driver coach Peter Dempsey to correct that by the time the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg roles around.
  • European rookies Timothe Buret and Raoul Owens both showed improving pace during Winterfest and both kept their noses clean until the second last restart, when they made contact with each other.  Don’t be surprised to see either of them contending for podiums once they get more comfortable.
  • Alessandro Latif did exactly what a rookie making the move from sports cars to open wheel cars needed to do, log a lot of laps and continue to get quicker each session.  Mission accomplished.
  • Nicholas Latifi showed of his ability to adapt to different kinds of open-wheel cars.  The Canadian, who will be racing in World Series By Renault 3.5 this year took only a few sessions to get up to speed.
  • Cape Motorsports with /WTR rookie Daniel Burkett had a Winterfest to forget, but I expect the Winnipeg, Manitoba native to regroup and come back strong for the first race of the season in St. Pete.

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Both championships were decided by penalties.  Victor Franzoni and Afterburner Autosport were disqualified from the third Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda race at NOLA Motorsports Park, and Weiron Tan was docked five points after skipping the podium for the third Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire race at NOLA Motorsports Park.

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Davey Hamilton, Jr. was testing the old Indy Lights chassis out west this week.  We sent out a request to find out if his plans included any Indy Lights races this year, but have yet to hear back.

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Former Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda driver Colton Herta ended up P2 in MSA Formula testing today.  The 14 year old son of former Verizon IndyCar Series driver and current team owner Bryan Herta will be contesting the Formula 4 based championship this season.

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2004 Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Rice is currently working with JDC Motorsports rookie Parker Thompson.  The 16 year-old Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda rookie, and karting standout finished Cooper Tires Winterfest in … place.

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Had a chance to talk to Pro Mazda Winterfest champion Jack Aitken and he said that this was a fantastic opportunity to knock the rust off before starting his European racing season.  He will be competing in Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup this season, but did not rule out a trip back to the US during their summer break.

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Team Pelfrey, the 2012 Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire team and drivers champions expect to have two cars (with an outside chance at three) in the Pro Mazda Championship.  Team manager Nigel Tuckey confirmed that they currently have one driver signed.