Neil Alberico Dominates Cooper Tires USF2000 Winterfest Opener

Story posted - Feb 06 2013 10:52 AM

Neil Alberico Dominates Cooper Tires USF2000 Winterfest Opener
Rookie Estrela Takes Third Behind Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing Duo

SEBRING, Fla. - Sophomore USF2000 driver Neil Alberico set out as he intends to continue by dominating this afternoon's opening round of the Cooper Tires Winterfest Championship at Sebring International Raceway. Alberico, 20, from Los Gatos, Calif., qualified Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing's #2 Racelite Protection/Bondurant School of High Performance Driving Van Diemen-Mazda on pole position, made a clean start and was never seriously challenged.

Alberico held a lead of 1.3 seconds over teammate Scott Hargrove, from Vancouver, B.C., Canada at the end of the opening lap around the 3.74-mile track and continued to stretch his lead with every lap, establishing a new USF2000 lap record of 2:03.074 - more than 0.8 seconds faster than his qualifying time - on Lap Nine as he sped to a convincing first-ever professional victory. The feat also ensured he will start on the pole position for the first of two more races tomorrow.

Hargrove was similarly untroubled in second place aboard the #38 Analytic Systems/Race Energy/Metal Action/Skip Barber Racing/Bell Racing Van Diemen.

Third place fell to USF2000 rookie Danilo Estrela, from Goiania, Brazil, driving the #11 entry for Belardi Auto Racing. A standout in the Skip Barber Racing series for the past two seasons, Estrela qualified fifth, made up two positions on the opening lap and held off a determined mid-race challenge from fellow USF2000 rookie Stefan Rzadzinski to ensure his podium appearance.

Rzadzinski, from Edmonton, Alb., Canada, lost a position on the opening lap but recovered to place Estrela under pressure in the middle stages of the 12-lap race before making an error in Turn 17. Rzadzinski lost a position to impressive 15-year-old Floridian RC Enerson, from New Port Richey, but regained it on the last lap to finish fourth in the #93 Can Torque/Christenson Developments Van Diemen entered by JDC MotorSports.

Enerson had to be content with fifth in the #10 Team E/Patriot Bank/ZSports Midwest Van Diemen, marking a solid debut in the Championship class after earning four wins in National Class competition in 2012.

Reigning Skip Barber Racing Series champion Jake Eidson, 17, from Littleton, Colo., also drove a good race to finish sixth on his debut for Afterburner Autosport, despite completing only a minimal number of laps in practice and qualifying due to some technical problems.

Garett Grist made a notable debut with Andretti Autosport in the #7 DaVinci Foods entry coming from last on the grid after not posting a time in qualifying to move as high as seventh by Lap 7 before brake issues ended his campaign.

James Dayson, from Vancouver. B.C., Canada took home the National Class Presented by SCCA Enterprises spoils, finishing 16th overall in the #16 Dayhu Group of Companies/Me and Lewis Ideas Inc. Formula Enterprises Van Diemen-Mazda fielded by ArmsUp Motorsports.

Rounds 2 and 3 of Cooper Tires Winterfest competition will take place at 1:20 pm ET and 4:20 pm ET tomorrow. Live timing and scoring will be available at

The 2013 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda will open on March 14/15 with two races in support of the American Le Mans Series and 61st running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida.

Neil Alberico, #2 Racelite Protection/Bondurant School of High Performance Driving (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) - First: "We knew going in and starting from the pole that we wanted to get out front and be consistent and turn some good lap times. The Cape guys - Dominic, Nicholas, Will and all the mechanics - they all make it easy for me to do my job. It was a good day today and, hopefully, we can duplicate it tomorrow."

Scott Hargrove, #38 Analytic Systems/Race Energy/Metal Action/Skip Barber
Racing/Bell Racing (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) - Second: "The race was a lot of fun and it was great to be near the front for a change. Cape Motorsports did a great job in providing me with the car and I just need to go and catch up to Neil [Alberico] for tomorrow. Everything ran flawlessly, so it is a good thing that there is still more racing."

Danilo Estrela, #11 (Belardi Auto Racing) - Third: "It was a very good race. The team gave me a good car. This was my first time [in a USF2000 race] so I am still getting used to it. Brian [Belardi] has a very good team and Chuck [Lessick, Team Manager] and everyone did a great job so I think we have a very good start to the season, and I feel we will be fighting for top honors."

James Dayson, #16 Dayhu Group of Companies/Me & Lewis Ideas Inc. (ArmsUp
Motorsports) - National Class Winner: "It is great to be back at Sebring especially since I wasn't able to put any laps in last year during Winterfest. It is a fun track to drive and it looks like there is going to be some good competition, and I am looking forward to getting some more competition in my class. I just keep practicing and hammering away each time that I am in the car to keep improving. I still have a long way to go."


Cooper Tires Winterfest Championship
Sebring International Raceway / 3.74 miles / February 5-6, 2013 / Sebring, Florida
Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda
Provisional Race Report - Round 1

POS ST POS/CL Class # Name Hometown TEAM
1 1 1 CHP 2 Neil Alberico Santa Clara, CA Cape Motorsports w/Wayne Taylor Racing 12 24:48.423 2:03.074 ‡ 9 Running
2 2 2 CHP 38 Scott Hargrove Vancouver, BC, Canada Cape Motorsports w/Wayne Taylor Racing 12 9.611 24:58.034 2:03.881 5 Running
3 5 3 CHP 11 Danilo Estrela Goiania, Brazil Belardi Auto Racing 12 27.468 25:15.891 2:05.323 6 Running
4 3 4 CHP 93 Stefan Rzadzinski Edmonton, AB, Canada JDC MotorSports 12 32.825 25:21.248 2:05.172 5 Running
5 4 5 CHP 10 RC Enerson New Port Richey, FL ZSports Midwest w/Team E Racing 12 33.525 25:21.948 2:05.774 7 Running
6 8 6 CHP 18 Jake Eidson Littleton, CO Afterburner Autosport 12 42.616 25:31.039 2:06.027 8 Running
7 13 7 CHP 21 Jesse Lazare Dollard des Ormeaux, QC, PCaabnsatd Raacing Services 12 43.045 25:31.468 2:06.146 12 Running
8 17 8 CHP 41 Peter Portante Plainville, CT Belardi Auto Racing 12 45.838 25:34.261 2:06.097 10 Running
9 14 9 CHP 23 Jason Wolfe Mount Vernon, OH Pabst Racing Services 12 46.679 25:35.102 2:06.433 6 Running
10 10 10 CHP 56 Matthew Di Leo Innisfil, ON, Canada MDL Racing 12 48.031 25:36.454 2:06.473 5 Running
11 7 11 CHP 54 Michael Johnson Flint, MI JDC MotorSports 12 48.182 25:36.605 2:05.868 8 Running
12 12 12 CHP 77 Austin Cindric Charlotte, NC Andretti Autosport 12 53.934 25:42.357 2:06.008 10 Running
13 16 13 CHP 19 Clark Toppe Woodlands, TX JDC MotorSports 12 1:00.212 25:48.635 2:07.169 10 Running
14 15 14 CHP 12 Arthur Oliveira Sao Paulo, Brazil JDC MotorSports 12 1:05.823 25:54.246 2:07.191 8 Running
15 18 15 CHP 4 Daniel Burkett Winnipeg, MB, Canada Belardi Auto Racing 12 1:14.721 26:03.144 2:08.290 6 Running
16 19 1 NAT 16 James Dayson Vancouver, BC, Canada ArmsUp Motorsports 11 1 Lap 25:25.832 2:17.085 4 Running
17 22 16 CHP 7 Garrett Grist Grimsby, ON, Canada Andretti Autosport 10 2 Laps 21:42.212 2:05.109 8 Not Running
18 11 17 CHP 17 Wyatt Gooden Cleveland, OH Afterburner Autosport 9 3 Laps 21:42.651 2:06.585 9 Not Running
19 21 18 CHP 3 James Fletcher Surrey, United Kingdom Cape Motorsports w/Wayne Taylor Racing 8 4 Laps 22:04.492 2:04.041 7 Not Running
20 6 19 CHP 91 Florian Latorre Libourne, France JAY Motorsports 6 6 Laps 13:30.985 2:06.454 4 Not Running
DNS 9 DNS CHP 32 Jeroen Slaghekki The Hague, Netherlands Cape Motorsports w/Wayne Taylor Racing DNS DNS
DNS 20 DNS CHP 9 Felipe Donato Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil JAY Motorsports DNS DNS
‡New race lap record

Provisional Race Report - Round 1
Copyright IMSA

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