St. Petersburg, FL (March 30, 2015) – The 2015 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires began the 13 race campaign this past weekend with Races 1 and 2 of the Allied Building Products Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. A total of 17 Pro Mazda cars lined the field for the opening rounds on the 1.8 mile, 14-Turn street course located in St. Petersburg, Florida. Juncos Racing took home their first Pro Mazda podium of the season with a second place finish by driver Jose Gutierrez.
The season kicked off Saturday March 28th with Race 1 which saw lots of action and tight battles throughout the field. Jose Gutierrez driving the #7 Prisma car picked up a Top-5 finish taking fifth place. American rookie Will Owen driving the #23 AMR car maintained his starting position to finish eighth. Canadian Garett Grist finished 11th in the #5 BlackList/Lander Property Management car and rookie Timothe Buret retired early in the race due to contact in Turn-1 putting the #6 BroadSign car 18 laps down.
The Pro Mazda series continued the following day with Race 2. Mexican Jose Gutierrez collected the first podium of the season in the #7 car for Juncos Racing bringing home second, along with recording the fastest lap of the race. Garett Grist, who started 11th, quickly moved up the field in the #5 car to finish just outside in the Top-5 in sixth. On the opening lap Will Owen was caught in a multiple car accident, putting him in the back of the field. Owen made his way back through the field in the #23 car to bring home an eighth place finish. Timothe Buret who qualified an impressive third, again battled tough luck when contact midway through the race forced the #6 car to end the day early.
Juncos Racing Team Owner, Ricardo Juncos was pleased with the teams results especially since each driver faced uncontrollable circumstances throughout both races. Juncos looks forward to a successful season with the team and continuing to develop them into the next level of their racing careers.
“Even though we had an up and down weekend at St. Pete I am happy overall with the results of each driver,” said Juncos. “Jose (Gutierrez) did a fantastic job bringing home the team’s first podium of the season. I am very pleased with the progress he has made in the past year and I know he will continue to be successful on track battling for the championship. Garett (Grist) was very impressive this weekend making his way from 11th to finish sixth on a track that is very difficult for passing. Will (Owen) had a great run in both races and did a great job avoiding an accident early in Race 2 to bring the car home in eighth. Timothe (Buret) showed great pace this weekend starting off P1 in practice and qualifying as high as third. I know we have a long way to go as a team, but I am confident we will continue to pick up our pace and achieve great results as the season gets underway. I want to thank all of the crew for giving the drivers fast and reliable cars, the drivers for their continued dedication to improve, and to all of our sponsors and families for their support.”
Timothe Buret (Montpellier, France): “”My first Grand Prix of St-Pete has been a tough one with two DNF results. After good practice sessions and a solid qualifying that puts us in the front rows of the grid, I made some mistakes in race 1 that forced me to withdraw from the race with a damaged car. I had plenty of ambition for race 2, starting P3. Unfortunately after several turns I got hit by some remains of damaged cars that collided in front of me and forced me to retire. Although the overall weekend result is not at the level we expected, I was able to show that the huge work we have done with the team starts to pay off in term of pace. I have learned a lot over the weekend and will benefit from this experience in the future. I am now already turning myself towards NOLA where I will put everything into the right direction to come back with a strong result. A huge thank you to Ricardo and the entire Juncos Racing team that has work very hard to provide me with a fast car. I did not bring them the result they deserved, but all our efforts will shortly pay off”.
Garett Grist (Grimsby, Ontario, Canada): “It was an up and down weekend for us in St. Pete. I made a mistake in qualifying that resulted in us starting near the back of the field, when we were a Top-3 car. Unfortunately in the first race my throttle was sticking and I had a lot of trouble with that. In the second race I was able to go from 11th to sixth. It’s always tough to pass at a street course. Overall I was happy with the pace and progress we made as a team.”
Jose Gutierrez (Monterrey, Mexico): “Race 1 was very difficult for me because the car started to give me a little bit of understeer on the exit and I finished fifth. I was a little disappointed with that result. We sat in the drivers meeting and went over everything we could improve on for Race 2. On the start of Race 2 I made a mistake, but was able to take back my second place position. I’m happy to finish on the podium for the first race weekend of the season. I want to thank Juncos Racing for giving me a great car and we are going to NOLA on a very positive note.”
Will Owen (Castle Rock, Colorado, USA): “It’s been a good weekend here in St. Petersburg. I’ve been pretty happy with my results, but I know we can do a lot better. I’m happy we’ve had two pretty solid finishes, but honestly I should have been right up there and next time I think we will be. The first race I think I could have had a better finish if I had made some more passes, but it worked out alright and I was able to bring the car home which is very important to do on your first weekend. The second race had a crazy start with a big crash in front of me and I was trapped, but I was able to back out and get out of there without any damage to the car. I gained a couple of spots in the race and was able to finish eighth again. So it was two good finishes to leave the weekend with and I know we have so much more there. This weekend has been amazing working with the team. Any problem that I had the team was on it right away, they are very dedicated and everyone here is treated equally. I know if I have a problem they are going to spend all of their time working on my car or if another driver has an issue they are going to work just as hard on his too. Thanks to Speed Group for all of their help this weekend taking care of everything that went into making this weekend successful both on and off track.”
The 2015 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires continues April 11th-12th for Rounds 3 and 4 on the 2.74 mile, 13-Turn road course at NOLA Motorsports Park (North) located in Avondale, Louisiana. For more information please visit juncosracing.com and promazdachampionship.com