PALMETTO, Fla. – After splitting their resources the past couple of weeks, all three series which comprise the acclaimed Mazda Road to Indy – Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda – will join together again this coming weekend in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. Two rounds will be held for each series on the picturesque and challenging 2.3-mile, 17-turn road course.
The Mazda Road to Indy is a proven driver development “ladder” which guides drivers all the way from the grassroots of the sport to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500, with scholarship packages to assist in the graduation to each level.
Briton Ed Jones Remains Unbeaten in Three Indy Lights Starts
Sean Rayhall to Make Indy Lights Debut with 8Star Motorsports
The names of Ed Jones and his Carlin team might not have been especially well known in North America prior to the start of the season, but they have certainly made their presence felt by claiming three straight victories with the exciting new Dallara IL-15 chassis powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged Mazda MZR-R engine. Jones, who was born and still is based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and carries British citizenship, dominated the opening two races on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., then scored again this past Sunday in Long Beach, Calif., when he profited from an incident between two of the top three qualifiers at the first corner. Jones won the 2013 European F3 Open series title and was a podium finisher last year in the more senior FIA European Formula 3 Championship despite missing a portion of the season due to injury.
Jones’ team, Carlin, shares that 100 percent record, which isn’t all that surprising considering its record in European open-wheel racing. The team has won multiple championships in a variety of different categories and can boast current F1 drivers Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Daniel Kvyat among its alumni.
Teammate Max Chilton, who has raced in F1 the past two seasons, hasn’t enjoyed much luck in the opening three races, but did mark his ability by rising from 10th on the grid (following an incident in qualifying) to fifth at Long Beach.
Spencer Pigot, from Orlando, Fla., also has shone for Juncos Racing. Pigot, 21, earned a Mazda scholarship after winning the 2014 Pro Mazda Championship and has finished on the podium in each of his first three Indy Lights races. In addition to securing three straight RePlay XD Move of the Race Awards, Pigot has a stout pedigree at Barber, winning three of four Pro Mazda races at the venue last year.
Teammate Kyle Kaiser, from Santa Clara, Calif., will be looking to bounce back from an unfortunate mistake at Long Beach where, after qualifying a fine third, he also took out the polesitter and pre-season championship favorite Jack Harvey (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian) at the first corner. Harvey, 22, from Lincoln, England, only lost out on the 2014 Indy Lights title due to a tie-breaker after claiming the same number of points (547) and wins (four) as champion Gabby Chaves, who this year has graduated to IndyCar with Bryan Herta Autosport.
Other contenders to watch will include Puerto Rico’s Felix Serralles, who set the fastest lap on Sunday at Long Beach for the defending champion team Belardi Auto Racing and scored his first podium of the season, and young talent RC Enerson (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports), who claimed a career-best finish of fourth in Long Beach and won the pair of USF2000 races at Barber last year.
Sports car talent Sean Rayhall will also be on the radar as he makes his Indy Lights debut with 8Star Motorsports. Rayhall, 20, from Atlanta, Ga., is part of the 8Star Motorsports Driver Development Program. His success with the team includes the 2013 IMSA Cooper Tires Prototype Lites title and multiple wins and podiums in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Prototype Challenge class.
The weekend will begin with two half-hour practice sessions on Friday, April 24, at 8:45 a.m. and 12:55 p.m., followed by qualifying later in the afternoon at 4:00 p.m. A 40-minute Race One for the Legacy Indy Lights 100 will start on Saturday afternoon at 2:50 p.m., and the one-hour Race Two “feature” event on Sunday, April 26, will take place at 12:10 p.m., immediately before the Verizon IndyCar Series headline event. All times are local. Live timing and commentary for all sessions will be available on the new Mazda Road to Indy App and at indylights.com.
Legacy Indy Lights 100
Barber Motorsports Park – Birmingham, AL – April 24-26, 2015
2.3-mile, 17-turn road course
Qualifying – Carlos Munoz 1:13.8509 = 112.118 mph April 6, 2013
Race – Zach Veach 1:16.0858 = 108.825 mph April 7, 2013
Entry List As of April 22, 2015
No. Driver Hometown Residence Team Entry
1. 4 Felix Serralles (R) Ponce, Puerto Rico Atlanta, GA Belardi Auto Racing TBA
2. 5 Juan Piedrahita Bogota, Colombia Indianapolis, IN Belardi Auto Racing Petrosur/Marca Colombia/Coldeportes/FCAD
3. 7 RC Enerson (R) New Port Richey, FL New Port Richey, FL Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Lucas Oil/Curb Records w/Curb-Agajanian
4. 8 Sean Rayhall (R) Winston, GA Atlanta, GA 8Star Motorsports Bass Egg and Edvisors
5. 11 Ed Jones (R) Dubai, UAE Dubai, UAE Carlin Toys for Boys Miami/United Rivers
6. 12 Spencer Pigot (R) Orlando, FL Indianapolis, IN Juncos Racing Mazda/Doug Mockett & Company/Rising Star Racing/The Stutz/BAD/OMP
7. 14 Max Chilton (R) Reigate, Surrey, England Reigate, Surrey, England Carlin BlippAR
8. 18 Kyle Kaiser (R) Santa Clara, CA Santa Clara, CA Juncos Racing InterVision/NetApp/Juniper Networks
9. 42 Jack Harvey Lincoln, England Lincoln, England Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Racing Steps Foundation/Curb Records w/Curb-Agajanian
10. 51 Shelby Blackstock (R) Nashville, TN Cornelius, NC Andretti Autosport Starstruck
11. 71 Ethan Ringel (R) Mineola, NY Orlando, FL Schmidt Peterson Motorsports FamilyArtPrinting.com w/Curb-Agajanian
12. 77 Scott Anderson (R) Fort Collins, CO Fort Collins, CO Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Anderson Podiatry Centers/Laser Therapy, w/Curb-Agajanian Surgery and Neuropathy/Curb Records
Wide-Open Pro Mazda Field is Led by Californian Neil Alberico
Most of the Pro Mazda grid already have some experience on the undulating Barber Motorsports Park track this year after contesting a pair of pre-season Cooper Tires Winterfest races, and even though California Neil Alberico did not make that trip, he is still expected to be among the pacesetters this weekend. Alberico, 22, earned two top-six finishes at Barber during his rookie 2014 campaign, en route to third in the championship standings, and belied his lack of pre-season mileage by winning both opening rounds in St. Petersburg for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing.
The other race winner so far this season is Uruguayan rookie Santi Urrutia for Team Pelfrey. After racing in Europe for the past five years in a variety of junior formulae, Urrutia made an impression on his North American debut, finishing second in Race One at St. Petersburg, then added a fourth in Race Two followed by an impressive wet weather victory last time out at NOLA Motorsports Park. Urrutia currently lies just four points adrift of Alberico with a total of 65 points on offer during the two races at Barber.
Teammate Pato O’Ward, 15, originally from Monterrey, Mexico, and now a student and resident of San Antonio, Texas, also shone in the early season races, highlighted by a pair of fourth-place finishes and a fastest race lap most recently at NOLA.
Fellow Monterrey native Jose Gutierrez and Frenchman Timothe Buret, driving for defending champion team Juncos Racing, plus Malaysian Weiron Tan (Andretti Autosport) and the Cape Motorsports pair of Florian Latorre, last year’s USF2000 champion, and Canadian Daniel Burkett also have podium finishes to their credit from an intensely competitive opening three races of the 16-round season.
The Pro Mazda contingent will begin their weekend with two promoter test sessions on Thursday, followed by official practice at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, and a half-hour qualifying period at 3:15 p.m. Race One for the Mazda Grand Prix of Alabama is set to start at 10:15 a.m. on Saturday, April 25, and Race Two on Sunday, April 26, at 9:00 a.m. All times are local. Live timing and commentary for all sessions will be available on the new Mazda Road to Indy App and at promazda.com.
Eidson, Jamin, Telitz and Franzoni Head a High-Quality USF2000 Field
The opening four races of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda have produced three different winners and witnessed the emergence of some extremely talented rookies.
Jake Eidson, from Littleton, Colo., currently leads the points table for Pabst Racing on the heels of two wins at St. Petersburg, Fla., and a pair of thirds at NOLA Motorsports Park. On current form, fellow veterans Nico Jamin and Aaron Telitz, both of whom drive for four-time defending champion team Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, plus Afterburner Autosport’s Victor Franzoni are likely to be Eidson’s closest challengers this weekend.
Jamin, 19, from Rouen, France, already has a race win at Barber to his credit this year, having clinched victory in the five-race Cooper Tires Winterfest preseason mini-series with an accomplished performance in the final race in February, while teammate Telitz, from Birchwood, Wis., is knocking on the door of ultimate success following a series of three second-place finishes to begin his regular-season campaign. His streak was only broken by a rare mechanical failure in the most recent race.
Franzoni, 19, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, also won earlier in the year at Barber, as well as in the most recent event at NOLA where he split the two races with Jamin.
A trio of rookies – Australians Jordan Lloyd and Anthony Martin for John Cummiskey Racing and Canadian karting standout Parker Thompson (JDC MotorSports) – currently hold fifth, sixth and seventh in the championship standings, separated by just eight points. There are a total of 65 points up for grabs in this weekend’s two races.
Other promising youngsters from the multinational field include Norway’s Ayla Agren and Russian Nikita Lastochkin (Team Pelfrey), 15-year-old German Keyvan Andres Soori (ArmsUp Motorsports) and China’s Yufeng Luo (Pabst Racing).
The Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Alabama will commence with two promoter test sessions on Thursday, followed by a busy day on Friday, April 24 which will comprise a half-hour practice at 12:10 p.m., qualifying at 2:30 p.m. and then the first of two 30-minute races at 6:10 p.m. The green flag for Race Two will fly at 5:20 p.m. on Saturday, April 25. All times are local. Live timing and commentary for all sessions will be available on the new Mazda Road to Indy App and at usf2000.com.
Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Alabama
Barber Motorsports Park – Birmingham, AL – April 24-26, 2015
2.3-mile, 17-turn road course
Qualifying – Michael Epps 1:23.009 = 99.748 mph February 25, 2014
Race – RC Enerson 1:23.456 = 99.214 mph February 26, 2014
Entry List As of April 20, 2015
No. Driver Hometown Residence Team Sponsors
1. 2 Nico Jamin Rouen, France Coconut Creek, FL Cape Motorsports w/WTR Synova Automotive Eco-Plastics
2. 3 Aaron Telitz Rice Lake, WI Birchwood, WI Cape Motorsports w/WTR Rice Lake Weighing Systems
3. 5 Keyvan Andres Soori Cologne, Germany Miami, FL ArmsUp Motorsports TBA
4. 6 Max Hanratty (R) Hartland, WI Milwaukee, WI ArmsUp Motorsports Juniper Networks/SynerComm Inc.
5. 12 Augie Lerch (R) Tucson, AZ Tucson, AZ JAY Motorsports Shashi/PJ’s Performance/Hi Speed Customs and Rods
6. 16 James Dayson Vancouver, BC, Canada Vancouver, BC, Canada ArmsUp Motorsports Dayhu Group of Companies/AXIUM Capital/Elite Performance
7. 17 Victor Franzoni Sao Paulo, Brazil Sao Paulo, Brazil Afterburner Autosport Novac Sports/XYZ Talents/E-QUAL
8. 22 Jake Eidson Memphis, TN Destin, FL Pabst Racing OMP/Bell Helmets/1st Bank/SafeisFast/Team USA Scholarship
9. 23 Yufeng Luo (R) Beijing, China Los Angeles, CA Pabst Racing TBA
10. 33 Anthony Martin (R) Kalgoorlie, Australia Indianapolis, IN John Cummiskey Racing Burgess BLA
11. 80 Parker Thompson (R) Red Deer, Alb., Canada Red Deer, Alb., Canada JDC MotorSports Bell Helmets/OMP/Parker Thompson: Drive to Stay Alive
12. 81 Ayla Agren (R) Oslo, Norway St. Petersburg, FL Team Pelfrey Energima/BVR/Alt I Asfalt/Salming Hockey/KNA/CoForce/WSF
13. 82 Luke Gabin (R) Perth, Australia Indianapolis, IN Team Pelfrey MAZDASPEED/Skip Barber/Mandurah Panel and Paint/Colbyson
14. 83 Garth Richards (R) Mechanicsburg, PA Mechanicsburg, PA Team Pelfrey Rahal Automotive Group
15. 84 Nikita Lastochkin (R) Moscow, Russia Los Angeles, CA Team Pelfrey Russkaya Mekhanika
R = Series Rookie