Lexington, Ohio – Points leader Santi Urrutia took another step toward his goal of winning the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires for Team Pelfrey by virtue of his victory this afternoon in the first of two races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course which will comprise the Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio.
Championship rival Neil Alberico (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) bounced back to prominence with a second-place finish, while Timothe Buret completed the podium after finding a way past pole-winning Juncos Racing teammate Garett Grist on Lap 6.
Urrutia, from Miguelete, Uruguay, enjoyed a slice of good fortune when early race leader Alberico was instructed by Race Control to drop behind the Team Pelfrey driver after being adjudged to have anticipated the start with a little too much alacrity. At that stage Alberico, who qualified second, was pulling away from the pack, having leaped ahead of Grist at the start line, with Urrutia following him through from fourth on the grid at the rolling start.
Alberico throttled back to negate the 3.5-second advantage he had established, and skillfully managed to allow Urrutia past, as instructed, without losing any more positions.
Urrutia then controlled the remainder of the 30-minute race to secure his third win of the season, while Alberico had to be content with second place, albeit with the consolation of adding a bonus point for posting the fastest lap of the race.
Buret managed to squeeze past the unfortunate Grist when the Canadian was forced to lift off the throttle in order not to make contact with Alberico as the former race leader slotted in behind Urrutia as instructed. Try as he did, the disgruntled Grist was unable to redress the balance.
Florian Latorre (Cape Motorsports) finished fifth ahead of Weiron Tan (Andretti Autosport) and Pato O’Ward (Team Pelfrey), who secured the RePlay XD Move the Race Award for his pass on Victor Franzoni on Lap 7.
Dalton Kellett (Andretti Autosport) and Franzoni (M1 Racing) completed the top 10.
Contingency Awards included the Quarter Master Hard Charger Award, which went to Urrutia for making up three positions after starting from fourth on the grid, the PFC Award to the winning team, Team Pelfrey, and the Staubli Award to Daniel Burkett, who finished 11th for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing.
The second leg of this weekend’s Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, Round 14 of the 16-round Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, will start at 8:50 AM ET tomorrow. Urrutia holds a 38-point advantage over Alberico with three races remaining this season.
Santi Urrutia (#81 Ancap/BSE/Antel/Corporacion de Maquinaria/Agra Lavalle/Fadisol-Team Pelfrey): “I had a good start behind Neil. He was quite quick. When he got the penalty, I drove to P1. It was a really hard race; he was pushing behind me. But I really didn’t expect this. It was hard, knowing that the five drivers in the championship were the top five in qualifying. Everyone wants to win the championship, and it’s so competitive. We have to continue this way, not making any mistakes. The team has done a great job. This is good for us in the championship. We’ll start third tomorrow, so we’ll see what happens.”