Avondale, La. – Frenchman Nico Jamin scored an emphatic maiden victory this afternoon when the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda made its first visit to NOLA Motorsports Park for the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Louisiana.
The 19-year-old Frenchman qualified his Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing Van Diemen-Mazda on pole this morning and took full advantage as he romped clear of the battling pack on the opening lap. Teammate Aaron Telitz found himself fully occupied in fending off the attention of Jake Eidson (Pabst Racing), which allowed Jamin to open up a commanding lead of almost two seconds by the end of Lap One.
Jamin was never seriously challenged as Telitz and Eidson remained locked in combat for second, with Victor Franzoni (Afterburner Autosport), who started sixth, also joining in the fun. The Brazilian actually lost a couple of places at the start but secured the RePlay XD Move of the Race Award for regaining them – plus two more positions – during a fraught opening lap.
The trio of challengers all turned slightly faster laps than the race leader, earning themselves the top three positions on the starting grid for tomorrow’s second leg of the double-header, but there was no catching Jamin, who, after finishing third in the first two races of the season two weeks ago at St. Petersburg, Fla., took the checkered flag 2.0124 seconds to the good.
Telitz finished second for the third consecutive race, while Eidson, who won both races in Florida, had to settle for third.
Franzoni secured his best result of the new season in fourth, followed by Australian Jordan Lloyd, best of the rookie contingent, for John Cummiskey Racing.
Germany’s Keyvan Andres Soori (ArmsUp Motorsports), the youngest driver in the field at just 15, held off a determined challenge from Canadian rookie Parker Thompson (JDC MotorSports) to match his career-best finish, sixth, which he achieved last year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Grand Prix circuit.
A last-lap incident involving Anthony Martin (John Cummiskey Racing), Yufeng Luo (Pabst Racing) and Garth Rickards (Team Pelfrey) allowed MAZDASPEED/Skip Barber Racing Scholarship winner Luke Gabin to jump from 11th to eighth, while Team Pelfrey stable-mates Ayla Agren and Nikita Lastochkin completed the top 10.
Lastochkin took home the Tilton Hard Charger Award for moving up three places during the race from his 13th starting position. The PFC Award was presented to the winning car owners, brothers Dominic and Nicholas Cape, while the Staubli Award was presented to Jamin.
Race Two for the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Louisiana is schedule to begin tomorrow morning at 10:15 am CDT pending schedule review. Live timing and commentary will be available at on the Mazda Road to Indy App and at http://mixlr.com/mazda-road-to-indy/.
Nico Jamin (#2 Synova Automotive Eco-Plastics-Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing): “I had a good Cooper Tires Winterfest at NOLA so when I came here I was pretty confident. Everyone on the Cape team has worked hard since St. Petersburg, because Jake [Eidson] was a little bit faster than us there. So it’s a very big day for me, my first pole and my first victory. After the first lap, I could see the guys behind me were fighting hard and I knew that was good for me. We were turning good lap times and I just focused on that. It was good to beat Jake, because of his points lead. It will be wet tomorrow so I have to do the same as today and make sure not to make any mistakes. We did well in the wet at Winterfest so hopefully we’ll do as well tomorrow.”