The bottom two rungs on Mazda Road To Indy took to the 2.3 mile 17-Turn road course at Barber Motorsports Park for a pair of 45-minute test sessions each, before the official Honda Grand Prix of Alabama practice starts on Friday morning.

Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda testing

The first Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda session was led by current points leader Jake Eidson, who turned a quick lap at 1 minute 23.6924 seconds. That is only a half of a second behind USF2000 track record of 1 minute 23.009 seconds set by Michael Epps during Winterfest in February 2014. Fellow series sophomores and championship contenders, Aaron Telitz, Nico Jamin, and Victor Franzoni rounded the top four. The fifth quickest time so far this year has often been turned by an Australian rookie, however it was not the usual suspects of Anthony Martin or Jordan Lloyd, but Luke Gabin, the most recent winner of the Mazda Motorsports/Skip Barber Championship scholarship.

Fifteen drivers took to the track and turned a total of 361 laps.

Only the top three drivers were able to come within one second of Eidson.

I had a chance to talk with TSO blogger and USF2000 sophomore Aaron Telitz after the morning session and he said that he thinks the track will be really quick this weekend. He set his quickest time of the morning (only six tenths off the USF2000 track record) on old tires. And while you are at it please read his latest blog.

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The second 45 minute USF2000 test session of the day got started at 1:15pm with a slight drizzle and threatening skies, but the heaviest of the precipitation held off until after the session was over.

It was the familiar sophomore quartet of Jamin, Eidson, Telitz and Franzoni up front again, but this time it was the French driver Jamin who led the way.  His lap time of 1 minute 23.508 seconds was just slightly ahead of the top time put in by Eidson in the morning session.

Ayla Agren brought out the lone caution when she went for an off track excursion on her fourteenth lap.  The Holmatro Safety Team was able to tow her back to the pits, but she was not able to get back out on track.

The same fifteen drivers took the track and were able to complete 328 laps.

This time the top five drivers were within one second of leader Jamin.

The top rookie in the session was John Cummiskey Racing’s Martin.

The combined times for both sessions are as follows:

POSITION CAR NO. NAME QUICK LAP TIME
1 2 Nico Jamin 1:23.508
2 22 Jake Eidson 1:23.566
3 3 Aaron Telitz 1:23.830
4 17 Victor Franzoni 1:24.246
5 33 Anthony Martin 1:24.479
6 5 Keyvan Andres Soori 1:24.786
7 82 Luke Gabin 1:24.793
8 23 Yufeng Luo 1:24.904
9 80 Parker Thompson 1:25.477
10 83 Garth Rickards 1:25.708
11 81 Ayla Agren 1:25.742
12 84 Nikita Lastochkin 1:25.757
13 12 Augie Lerch 1:26.018
14 6 Max Hanratty 1:27.126
15 16 James Dayson 1:27.460

Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire testing

Seventeen Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire drivers took to the track at 9 a.m. for their first test session of the day, and it was a quartet from Juncos Racing that showed the early pace, with all of their drivers placed within the top seven times of the session. Sophomore Mexican driver Jose Gutierrez, with a lap time of 1 minute 21.236 seconds led his teammate Timothe Buret by only 0.2408 seconds. Weiron Tan, Pato O’Ward and Garett Grist were the rest of the top five.

Seventeen drivers took to the track and turned a total of 370 laps.

The top nine drivers were all within one second of leader Gutierrez.

The slight drizzle that impacted the USF2000 testing right before it seemed to intensify just as the Pro Mazda field was about to head out on track.  However, that didn’t stop half the field from immediately heading out on track.  The notable hold-outs in the first fifteen minutes of practice were the four Juncos Racing, two of the JDC Motorsports pilots and the two Andretti Autosport pilots.

The JDC Motorsports duo of Kyle Connery and Parker Nicklin were the first of the stragglers to head out on track and were soon followed by the Andretti Autosport duo of Tan and Dalton Kellett.  Eventually two of the four Juncos Racing holdouts also hit the track.

It only took Tan four laps to jump to the top of the time sheets and he was able to hold station at the top of the time sheet until the checkered flag fell at 3pm.  He was joined in the top five by Timothe Buret, Pato O’Ward, Will Owen and Florian Latorre.   Tan’s top lap was one minute 20.875 seconds.  That lap was within 0.6 seconds of the Pro Mazda track record.

The session ended two minutes early when Raoul Owens had an incident.

Current points leader Neil Alberico was only able to turn the ninth quickest lap, and he and his Cape Motorsports with /WTR team still have some work to do to if they want to hold onto the championship lead.

Seventeen drivers combined to turn 318 laps.

Seven drivers were within one second of the quickest time set by Tan.

POSITION CAR NO DRIVER QUICK LAP TIME
1 22 Weiron Tan 1:20.875
2 6 Timothe Buret 1:21.207
3 7 Jose Gutierrez 1:21.236
4 82 Pato O’Ward 1:21.356
5 23 Will Owen 1:21.389
6 10 Florian Latorre 1:21.395
7 5 Garett Grist 1:21.587
8 81 Santiago Urrutia 1:21.616
9 3 Neil Alberico 1:21.642
10 28 Dalton Kellett 1:21.750
11 2 Daniel Burkett 1:21.897
12 91 Kyle Connery 1:22.144
13 19 Raoul Owens 1:22.159
14 14 Alessandro Latif 1:22.349
15 26 Parker Nicklin 1:24.055
16 13 Bobby Eberle(E) 1:25.103
17 37 Jay Horak(E) 1:26.133

Busy Friday

With no Verizon IndyCar Series practice until Saturday, Friday is packed with Mazda Road To Indy action. Practice and qualifying for all three series, as well as the first Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda race of the weekend at 6:10pm (Central) The jam packed Friday schedule is below:

TIME SERIES EVENT
8am-8:30am Pro Mazda Practice
8:45am-9:15am Indy Lights Practice
12:10pm-12:40pm USF2000 Practice
12:55pm-1:25pm Indy Lights Practice
2:30pm-3:00pm USF2000 Qualifying
3:15pm-3:45pm Pro Mazda Qualifying
4pm-4:40pm Indy Lights Qualifying
6:10pm-6:55pm USF2000 Race #1

Set-up day for Lights

After a long cross county haul from Long Beach, California to Birmingham, Alabama, it was no surprise that the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire series teams were not part of today’s testing.  But they were busy getting prepared for practice tomorrow morning at 8:45am.  In the picture below you can see tub and Mazda engine of the No. 7 LucasOil/CurbRecords race car unmated from it’s transmission.  All of the SPM with Curb-Agajanian Indy Lights cars were in the same state, as mechanics were busy changing the gears from Long Beach to those that will better suit Barber.

The No. 7 LucasOil/CurbRecords Mazda of RC Enerson in two pieces on Indy Lights set-up day at Barber Motorsports Park (Photo - Steve Wittich)

The No. 7 LucasOil/CurbRecords Mazda of RC Enerson in two pieces on Indy Lights set-up day at Barber Motorsports Park (Photo – Steve Wittich)

 

Creative marketing

The gang at Andersen Promotions has come up with a great way to promote the Mazda Road To Indy.  And the best part about it? It’s free!

Some great marketing by Andersen Promotions.  (Photo - Steve Wittich)

Some great marketing by Andersen Promotions. (Photo – Steve Wittich)