Archives for USF Pro 2000 PR

Telitz Edges O’Ward in Two-Day Pro Mazda Spring Training

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Aaron Telitz, from Birchwood, Wis., and Patricio O’Ward, from Monterrey, Mexico, today turned the fastest time for Team Pelfrey as drivers from the first two rungs on the Mazda Road to Indy, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, wrapped up a two-day “Spring Training” open test at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.
A total of 11 Pro Mazda drivers took advantage of perfect weather conditions and an opportunity to make final preparations for next weekend’s opening rounds of the 16-race championship chase on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The test also provided a valuable chance to gain experience in advance of the series’ return to the challenging 2.3-mile, 17-turn road course for a pair of races during the Grand Prix of Alabama Verizon IndyCar Series weekend on April 23-25.
Team Pelfrey, which guided Uruguayan Santiago Urrutia to the 2015 Pro Mazda championship, picked up where it left off by topping five of the six one-hour testing sessions held in gloriously sunny conditions over the past two days.
Telitz, who finished third in last year’s USF2000 championship, has taken to the more powerful Pro Mazda cars like a duck to water. He showed good pace in several independent tests in recent weeks and was fastest of all at Barber with a best lap of 1:20.7221, narrowly ahead of teammate O’Ward, 16, who finished sixth in the 2015 title-chase.
“I felt I did a great job getting up to speed,” said Telitz, who opted to skip the final session in order to save a fresh set of Cooper tires for later in the season. “All three Team Pelfrey cars were quick. Going up against my two teammates, who have a great deal of experience in the Pro Mazda cars after having a full year under their belts, shows me where I can improve. We work really well as a team.”
“The objective was to pick up right where we left off last season and to improve and make progress to get better and better for this season,” added O’Ward. “It’s a very positive boost for the upcoming races.”
Weiron Tan, from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, completed a sweep of the top three times for Team Pelfrey, while Argentinean rookie Nicolas Dapero turned a few heads by proving fastest of the four-car Juncos Racing contingent, edging out pre-season title favorite Garett Grist, from Grimsby, Ont., Canada, Australian Jake Parsons and Will Owen, from Castle Rock, Colo.
“We went through a list of things we wanted to get done, which was a positive,” said Grist. “We made some good changes, we made some bad changes but we learned either way. I think we’ll be really fast right out of the box at St. Pete.”
Nico Jamin, from Rouen, France, the runaway winner of the 2015 USF2000 championship as well as a Mazda scholarship to assist in the graduation to Pro Mazda, was fifth fastest for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing.
The teams now will pack up and head to St. Petersburg, Fla., for the Allied Building Products Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Official practice will commence on Friday morning, followed by one race apiece on Saturday and Sunday, March 12-13.

Andersen Promotions Announces USF2000/Pro Mazda Chassis Manufacturer

SOURCE:  Andersen Promotions Andersen Promotions Announces USF2000/Pro Mazda Chassis Manufacturer New USF2000 Entry to be Unveiled during 2016 Indianapolis 500 PALMETTO, Fla. (October 29, 2015) – Andersen Promotions today announced that Tatuus has been chosen to design and manufacture the next generation of chassis for the first two levels of the Mazda Road to Indy…

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Double for Grist Promotes him to Third in Pro Mazda Points Chase

Double for Grist Promotes him to Third in Pro Mazda Points Chase

Monterey, Calif. – The middle step of the Mazda Road to Indy was the first to reach the conclusion of its 2015 season today at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, with Canadian Garett Grist securing a weekend sweep in the Allied Building Products Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Monterey. The double victory propelled Grist from sixth in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires points chase to third and allowed his Juncos Racing team to clinch the coveted Team Championship in style.
Santiago “Santi” Urrutia, who yesterday clinched the championship title as well as a $590,000 Mazda Scholarship prize to assist in his graduation to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires in 2016, finished second – his ninth podium appearance during a stellar rookie season in North America – while Neil Alberico (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) bounced back from a spin on Saturday to finish third.
The 16th and final round of the Pro Mazda championship was interrupted by three full-course cautions due to a variety of one-car incidents. Grist, who qualified second behind Urrutia, made the decisive pass for the lead at Turn Two on the opening lap, then controlled the ensuing restarts to clinch his third victory of the season.
Urrutia made a bold move to the inside of Grist entering Turn Two immediately following a restart on Lap Five, locking up under heavy braking and initiating contact between the two cars, but Grist managed to maintain his advantage. Despite damage to his car’s right-front wing, Urrutia held on to second ahead of Alberico.
Will Owen (Juncos Racing) maintained his strong end to the season by finishing fourth ahead of Dalton Kellett (Andretti Autosport) and 16-year-old Texas-based Mexican Patricio “Pato” O’Ward, who bounced back impressively after being an innocent victim of an incident at the start of Saturday’s race. O’Ward took home the Quarter Master Hard Charger Award, having made up eight positions during the race, as well as the RePlay XD Move of the Race Award for the manner in which he vaulted from 14th to eighth on the first lap.
Other contingency awards included the Staubli Award to Kyle Connery, who finished 10th for JDC MotorSports, and the PFC Award to the winning car owner, Ricardo Juncos.
Juncos Racing’s fourth victory of the season enabled the Brownsburg, Ind.-based team to secure its second successive Team Championship by a commanding 39-point margin over Team Pelfrey.
Bobby Eberle, from Houston Texas, took the Expert class honors, for drivers over 30 years of age, for the 11th time in 15 starts, finishing 14th overall for the California-based World Speed Motorsports team.
Garett Grist (#5 Lander property Management-Juncos Racing): “I knew it was going to be a tough race, with Santi starting first and me starting second. But I got a good jump on the start and carried good momentum going up the hill and down into Turn Two. I was surprised he went to the outside, I thought he might try to lunge to the inside. So all I had to do was hold my line, I knew he wouldn’t be able to get around. It’s a great way to end the year. I really appreciate everything the guys at Juncos Racing have done. They’ve worked so hard, especially Peter (Dempsey, former Indy Lights driver). Peter and I communicate really well and he knows these cars so well. We started on the front row at each of the last seven races. It’s going to be a busy off season – I’ll be back in the Mazda Road to Indy, I just need to decide if I’m going to move up or stay in Pro Mazda.”

Meet the Contenders: Urrutia and Alberico

Meet the Contenders: Urrutia and Alberico
Part one of two
PALMETTO, Fla. – Six different drivers have stood on the top step of the podium to date in this year’s Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. Four of those drivers – rookies Santiago “Santi” Urrutia of Uruguay, Frenchman Timothé Buret and Malaysian Weiron Tan, along with sophomore American Neil Alberico – have a chance to take the title this weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. On the line is a Mazda Scholarship of $590,300 to advance to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires in 2016.
Santiago “Santi” Urrutia
Team Pelfrey’s Santiago Urrutia made an immediate impact in Pro Mazda competition, finishing second and fourth at the season-opener in St. Petersburg, Fla., and earning his first series victory two weeks later at NOLA Motorsports Park. The 19-year-old Uruguayan comes to the season finale with plans to take home the title – and to honor a fallen countryman.
Urrutia began his racing career riding motocross events at the age of 4. After winning the Latin American Motocross Championship for children aged 4-6, Urrutia moved into karts, earning five karting championships in eight years, including the 2010 Uruguayan Master Category Karting Championship. Switching to cars, Urrutia raced for two years in the Formula Abarth European and Italian series, followed by single seasons in European Formula 3 Open and, in 2014, the GP3 Series in support of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship.
Urrutia tested with Team Pelfrey mere weeks before the first race weekend of the year but wasted no time making his presence felt, adding a second victory at Indianapolis where he took the championship lead. With another win in the most recent event at Mid-Ohio giving him eight total podium finishes, Urrutia leads the championship by 29 points over Alberico, 47 over Buret and 51 over Tan. Despite the success, Urrutia admits this was not a position in which he expected to find himself.
“I didn’t think I would be fighting for the championship in my rookie year,” said Urrutia. “I did only two days of testing with Team Pelfrey before the first race at St. Pete, and I had never raced on a street circuit before. I finished second in my first race and that was good, to know I was competitive already! I knew I had to keep working hard, and I won the first race at NOLA. That was really good for me and for the team. The only big mistake for me was at Lucas Oil Raceway. It was a new experience for me, I’d never raced on an oval before. I touched the wall and didn’t finish the race, so that was my worst result.
“It would change so much to win the championship. I could take the scholarship to Indy Lights. I know the big teams are watching the Mazda Road to Indy, so maybe one of the big teams with IndyCar or Indy Lights will notice!”
Urrutia comes to the season finale at Mazda Raceway with thoughts of his countryman, Gonzalo Rodriguez, on his mind. Rodriguez was driving his second race weekend with Penske Racing in the CART FedEx Championship Series when he was killed in a crash during practice on September 11, 1999.
“As a Uruguayan, it is very special for me to come to Mazda Raceway. We lost our biggest driver, Gonzalo Rodriquez, at Mazda Raceway in 1999. I will race with a helmet in tribute to him. He is a hero in Uruguay; he’s my hero, too. I am grateful for everything he did for the sport in Uruguay. We are only three million people and he worked hard to get to IndyCar. I am giving the helmet to his Foundation in Uruguay and I hope to one day be the second driver from Uruguay to race in IndyCar.”
Neil Alberico
Neil Alberico is the very picture of California cool. The affable 22-year-old Los Gatos native enjoys surfing, golfing and racing cars. But on the inside burns a competitive fire that belies the cool exterior, a fire that earned Alberico last year’s Pro Mazda Spirit Award, presented to the driver or team that embodies the heart of a champion as they strive to reach their goals.
Like so many drivers, Alberico came up through the karting ranks, earning three junior championships and two senior titles. He contested Formula Ford championships in England and Europe in 2011 and earned a Team USA Scholarship which saw him score several pole positions and heat race victories in Formula Ford events in England. Alberico then moved to the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, where he finished a close second to Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing teammate Scott Hargrove in 2013 despite six wins, eight podium finishes and 11 front-row starting positions.
Heading up one more rung of the ladder last year with the Cape team, he finished third in Pro Mazda with four podiums and 11 top-six drives. 2014 also saw Alberico, Juncos Racing’s Spencer Pigot and IndyCar driver Josef Newgarden named as inaugural representatives for Rising Star Racing, a new organization designed to provide funding and support for select young drivers moving up the racing ladder.
Despite a late start that saw him miss the Cooper Tires Winterfest pre-season test sessions, Alberico came roaring out of the gate this year, sweeping two poles and two victories at the season-opener in St. Petersburg, Fla. After taking another victory at Barber Motorsports Park in April, Alberico endured mid-season misfortune, with mechanical issues and incidents costing him valuable points. Rebounding with a second-place finish and a victory at Mid-Ohio, Alberico knows that, once again, he goes into the season finale with a shot at the title – albeit from 29 points behind Urrutia.
“We are within striking distance of the championship, so we’ll go into the weekend with the plan of winning both races, and then whatever happens, happens. I can’t control what happens to anyone else, we just have to win some races and hope things work out for us. But I would love to get into an Indy Lights car next year. I think we’re ready to move on, regardless of what happens at the finale. The last two years, I’ve finished second or third. I’ve been really close and in the title fight coming to the last races. And it would mean so much to win this for the Cape guys. I’ve been so close with those guys the last several years. It would mean a lot to win the championship for them and for Rising Star, to take the financial burden off of them. It would be great to work with Mazda next year, to have the scholarship. It will be really exciting if we can pull it off.”
But the numbers don’t tell the whole story for Alberico.
“Racing is so competitive, and there are a lot of aspects to it that are more difficult when seen from the inside rather than from the outside. But my favorite part is just traveling and meeting people. You meet so many cool people in this sport. I love the behind-the-wheel driving part, but it’s the friendships that really last.”

Andersen Promotions Announces New USF2000/Pro Mazda Chassis Plans

PALMETTO, Fla. (August 10, 2015) – The first two levels of the highly successful Mazda Road to Indy – the unique driver development program providing a clear, scholarship-funded path for drivers to follow toward the pinnacle of the sport – are set for a revitalization as Andersen Promotions today announced plans to introduce a new chassis in each series.
Request for Proposals (RFP) have been circulated to constructors for a new car in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda in 2017 and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires in 2018. Andersen Promotions debuted the track record-shattering Dallara IL-15 in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competition, the third step on the ladder system, to rave reviews this season.
The new carbon composite chassis will be a “common chassis” between USF2000 and Pro Mazda with specific elements defining both visual and performance differences in the two series including variations in horsepower and aerodynamics. It will be designed to the latest FIA specifications with added safety enhancements to accommodate U.S. road, street and oval circuits and a more modern appearance, and will share many of the current F4 specifications but with improved performance designs and increased horsepower.
The new chassis will be powered by a 2.0-liter Mazda MZR engine producing approximately 170 horsepower in USF2000 and 270 horsepower in Pro Mazda. All chassis will run on Cooper tires. Other applicable Mazda Road to Indy partner components will also be used. There will be tightly controlled car and spare costs. Current USF2000 cars will still be eligible for the recently announced “B Class” in 2017.
“The current USF2000 race car has served us very well for a long time and is still a terrific training vehicle, but the time has come to provide our teams and drivers with more current technology and upgraded safety,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “This new car will take many features from the worldwide F4 car, but will be built with important safety enhancements, higher performance and more driver tools. We believe it will be an even better trainer for the future stars of the Verizon IndyCar Series.
“The Pro Mazda version, which will roll out a year later, will offer more horsepower and other aero improvements to effect the higher level of training that defines Pro Mazda as the next step in the Mazda Road to Indy. We have been thinking about producing new chassis for quite some time and we feel the time is right. This is a game changer and we are excited to announce these plans.”
The new USF2000 chassis will be unveiled at the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 next May with prototype testing expected to begin in June. Car deliveries will take place in the fall and a similar schedule will follow for Pro Mazda.
“The Mazda Road to Indy has a firm foundation in driver development and has been gaining more notoriety around the globe,” said John Doonan, Director of Mazda Motorsports in North America. “This future chassis and powertrain strategy that Dan and his team at Andersen Promotions have now put in place further solidifies this program and should get even more attention by young talent. Mazda is all about bringing the latest technology to the marketplace in our road cars. These new chassis platforms will be exactly that for the open-wheel stars of the future. We could not be more proud of our place in the Mazda Road to Indy and our partnership with Andersen Promotions.”
An announcement regarding the new USF2000/Pro Mazda chassis constructor will be made in October.
“This is great news for the Mazda Road to Indy Series as the current USF2000 and Pro Mazda cars have served the drivers and teams well,” said Chris Pantani, Director of Motorsports for Cooper Tires. “However, these new platforms will better prepare the drivers for the demands and expectations of progressing in the Mazda Road to Indy and eventually driving the new Indy Lights Dallara IL-15 car. These changes continue to solidify everyone’s expectations that the Mazda Road to Indy is the one true ladder system in open-wheel racing; there is no substitution.”
The ultra-competitive 2015 Mazda Road to Indy season will wrap up at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on September 10-13 with title-deciding, double-header rounds remaining for all three series. Over $2.3M in scholarships and awards are on offer including a scholarship package to the Indy Lights champion that features three Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2016 including the Indianapolis 500.

Alberico Wins at Mid-Ohio to Maintain Pro Mazda Title Challenge

Lexington, Ohio – Californian Neil Alberico kept himself in the frame for this year’s Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by guiding his Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing entry to a comfortable victory in this morning’s Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio.
Alberico’s fourth win of the season leaves him 29 points shy of series leader Santi Urrutia, who finished third today for Team Pelfrey, in the quest for a MAZDASPEEDscholarship to move up one more rung on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder into Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires in 2016.
Frenchman Timothé Buret finished second for Juncos Racing, catapulting him to third in the title chase ahead of Andretti Autosport’s Weiron Tan, who finished seventh. A total of 66 points will be available in the final two races of the 16-round season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., on September 11-13.
For the second day in succession there was drama at the start. The drivers had been expressly warned after their conduct yesterday by Race Director Scot Elkins, so when polesitter Garett Grist accelerated before the green flag had been waved, the start was aborted and Grist’s Juncos Racing entry was sent to the back of the field.
Alberico, who had lined up second on the grid, took full advantage of the vacant pole position by leaping into the lead at the start. A series of fast laps established a gap over Buret, who had usurped Urrutia at the start, and thereafter Alberico cruised out to an advantage of 5.5 seconds before Cape Motorsports teammate Florian Latorre crashed out of sixth place in Turn 12 to ensure the 30-minute race would finish under caution.
Brazilian Victor Franzoni earned the Quartermaster Hard Charger Award, vaulting from ninth on the grid to fourth, equaling his best result in a partial season campaign for M1 Racing. The RePlay XD Move of the Race Award went to Grist, who also set the fastest lap of the race as he charged from 17th to ninth by the finish. Other contingency awards included the PFC Award to the winning car owners, Dominic and Nicholas Cape, and the Staubli Award to 11th-place finisher Alessandro Latif (World Speed Motorsports).
Latif’s teammate, Bobby Eberle, claimed the Expert class honors, for drivers over 30 years of age, from Bob Kaminsky (Kaminsky Racing), who endured some mechanical problems after being involved in an incident on the first lap. Eberle has now clinched the Expert Championship.
The Team Championship, along with top driver honors, will go down to the season finale, with Juncos Racing currently holding a 20-point advantage, 355-335, over Team Pelfrey. Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing also remain in contention on 325 points.
Neil Alberico (#3 Rising Star Racing/Mobe-Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing): “Everyone is pushing hard, trying to get a win at the last few events of the season. But getting the win today does feel like instant redemption from yesterday. The Cape Motorsports guys gave me a great car today; we made a few little changes but nothing major. The track was very slippery being out early in the morning so you had to minimize your mistakes early until the track came in, but it got better and better as the race went on. It feels good having momentum going into my home race in Monterey. Points are a big deal but I can’t control what everyone else does. All I can do is try to win the last two races and whatever happens, happens.”
About Pro Mazda: The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires debuted in 2013 as a new series, replacing the Star Mazda Championship which ceased operation in 2012 after 22 years. The series is sanctioned by INDYCAR and owned and operated by Andersen Promotions. It is the second official step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system with the series’ champion awarded a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competition the following year. For more information,
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports: Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to Indy includes USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights racing categories with Mazda power. In sports car racing, a similar ladder system involves a number of racing series, culminating with the Mazda Prototype team which races in the top level of IMSA sports car racing in North America. In the grassroots categories, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer.
Mazda North American Operations is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States and Mexico through nearly 700 dealers.  Operations in Mexico are managed by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.  For more information on Mazda vehicles, including photography and B-roll, please visit the online Mazda media center at
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, together with its subsidiaries, is a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of innovative, great-performing tires that people depend on for all of life’s road trips, whether on city streets, off-road adventures or high-speed tracks. In fact, Cooper Tire is proud to sponsor and race in all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy development program within the IndyCar racing series. Cooper tires can also been seen on the track as a sponsor of the IMSA Prototype Lites Series, and competing in the short course off-road TORC Series.  Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, together with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design facilities in 11 countries around the world.  This year, as we head into our second century in the tire industry, Cooper is looking toward a future where innovation will continue to drive our products and our products will continue to drive the world. To connect with Cooper Tire, visit, or

Champions from Around the World to Contest Mazda Road to Indy Shootout

Unparalleled Program Rewards with $200K USF2000 Scholarship

LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 1) – The Mazda Road to Indy has attracted drivers from around the globe since its launch in 2010. For this weekend’s seven rounds of competition at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, 13 countries are represented across the three development series’ grids in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. Now the quest for a Mazda scholarship to enter the USF2000 ranks will have more global appeal following today’s announcement that the Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200K Scholarship Shootout will include the champions of select junior level open-wheel and karting series in 2016 from around the world.

The Shootout will be an unprecedented event, bringing the champions of North American and international series together for the first time in a knockout-style format. Each participating series will be able to offer its 2016 champion an “entry ticket” to the Shootout, which will be a hotly contested event in the fall of next year. The winner will be awarded a $200K scholarship from Mazda to enter USF2000 in 2017.

A total of 15 drivers will be invited to take part in the Shootout program. Each participating series will be designated as an Official Feeder Series of the Mazda Road to Indy. Series currently confirmed include:

* BRSCC F1600 (England) sanctioned by BRSCC
* Formula Car Challenge Presented by Goodyear (USA) sanctioned by NASA
* Pacific F2000 (USA) sanctioned by SCCA/NASA
* Australian Formula Ford (Australia) sanctioned by Formula Ford Association Inc.
* F2000 Championship Series (USA) sanctioned by SCCA Pro Racing
* F1600 Formula F Championship Series (USA) sanctioned by SCCA Pro Racing
* ROTAX MAX Challenge (USA) sanctioned by MAXSpeed Group
* Skip Barber Race Series Champion (USA) sanctioned by Skip Barber
* Team USA Scholarship (USA)
* SCCA Runoffs – F1600 and FC (USA) sanctioned by SCCA

“Mazda prides itself on providing the most comprehensive scholarship and ladder system for drivers in open wheel and sports cars,” said John Doonan, Director of Mazda Motorsports in North America. “Now, with the Scholarship Shootout, we can expand the Mazda Road to Indy entry-level opportunity to young champions from around the world. From an aggressive grassroots program to a well-defined ladder system to the top levels of racing in North America, Mazda strives to help develop superstars of the future.”

Current drivers who have moved up the ladder with scholarship programs from Mazda include Luke Gabin, who entered USF2000 with a $200K scholarship in 2015 after winning the Skip Barber Championship Shootout; Florian Latorre, the reigning USF2000 champion who graduated to Pro Mazda; 2014 Pro Mazda champion Spencer Pigot, who has four wins and four poles to date this season in Indy Lights, the most by any driver; and Gabby Chaves, who drives for Bryan Herta Autosport in the Verizon IndyCar Series after capturing last year’s Indy Lights crown.

“The response from the various series about this new program has been incredible and we are thrilled to have them as partners as we help the rising stars of the sport take the next step in their career in USF2000 on the Mazda Road to Indy path,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “I have to thank our terrific partner Mazda for thinking outside the box and opening up this opportunity to so many more drivers. It will be exciting to bring together all of the series champions and watch them compete.”

Full details on all the series involved in the Shootout and competition details will be distributed in the coming months. A current and regularly updated list of all participating series can be found on the website under the “About” section.

The battle for supremacy on the Mazda Road to Indy – the only driver development program of its type in the world offering a clear, scholarship-funded path to the Verizon IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 – is poised to come down to doubleheader title fights at the scenic and challenging Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for its season finale on September 11-13. All three series will be in action with over $2.3 million in season-ending prizes and awards on the line.

Urrutia Extends Pro Mazda Points Lead with Victory at Mid-Ohio

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.”

Six Nationalities Involved in Pro Mazda Championship Battle

By the Numbers Entering Mid-Ohio:

Current Points: Urrutia (251), Tan (224), Alberico (218), Buret (210), O’Ward (203)
Number of Race Winners: 6
Race Wins: Tan (4), Alberico (3), Urrutia (2), Buret (1), Grist (1), Latorre (1)
Number of Podium Finishers: 11
Podiums: Urrutia (6), Tan (6), Buret (6), Alberico (5), O’Ward (3), Latorre (3), Owen (2), Grist (2), Gutierrez (1), Burkett (1), Kellett (1)
Poles: Tan (6), Alberico (2), Urrutia (1), Buret (1), Grist (1), Latorre (1)

For proof of the global appeal of the Mazda Road to Indy, look no further than the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, in which a Uruguayan (Santi Urrutia), a Malaysian (Weiron Tan), an American (Neil Alberico), a Frenchman (Timothe Buret), a Mexican (Pato O’Ward) and a Canadian (Garett Grist) are separated by just 46 points with four races remaining this season. Their quest to win a MAZDASPEED scholarship worth $568,700 to assist in graduation to Indy Lights, the top level of the Mazda Road to Indy, in 2016 will continue this weekend with two races which will comprise the Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio.

Only O’Ward (Team Pelfrey), the youngest driver in the field at 16, has yet to win a race, although perhaps that milestone is just around the corner given his recent string of three podium finishes in as many starts. In fact, O’Ward has scored more points than anyone else during that period of time.

O’Ward’s teammate, Urrutia, holds a healthy 27-point lead in the standings following an impressively consistent first-ever season in North America after learning the tools of his trade in Europe over the past four years. Tan, too, has crossed the Pond after competing in the German Formula 3 series in 2014. The Malaysian has won four times with Andretti Autosport – more than anyone else – including a romp to victory last time out at Iowa Speedway.

Alberico (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing), from Los Gatos, Calif., and Grist (Juncos Racing), from Grimsby, Ont., are the only non-rookies among the top eight in the point standings. Alberico, who finished third in the 2014 title-chase, has struggled to match the form that brought victory in the first two races of the season, while Grist, who struggled in the early races, has found some speed of late after winning his home race in Toronto, Canada, then setting a blistering pace during a subsequent series test at Mid-Ohio.

Buret (Juncos Racing), from Montpellier, France also is in the thick of the points battle with one win and five additional podium finishes to his credit, while countryman Florian Latorre (Cape Motorsports), who won last year at Mid-Ohio en route to the USF2000 championship and a MAZDASPEED scholarship prize to graduate into Pro Mazda, has won once this year.

Mid-Ohio also will see the return of Michael Johnson (JDC MotorSports). The only paralyzed racer on the Mazda Road to Indy was injured in a heavy crash at St. Petersburg, Fla., earlier in the season but the native of Flint, Mich., has been working hard to prepare for his comeback and showed well during the recent open test.

The Pro Mazda teams will continue their preparations for the weekend with three test sessions on Thursday, July 30, followed by another 30-minute practice on Friday and a single qualifying session later in the afternoon. Race One will start at 1:00 PM on Saturday, August 1, and Race Two at 8:50 AM on Sunday. Live timing and commentary for all sessions will be available on the new Mazda Road to Indy App and at with live streaming at Special features can be found at RoadToIndy.TV.

Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course – Lexington, Ohio – June 30-July 1, 2015
2.258-mile, 13-turn road course

Entry List
As of July 26, 2015

Track Records:
Qualifying – Ryan Justice 1:18.300 = 103.816 mph May 20, 2006
Race – Daniel Herrington 1:19.970 = 101.648 mph May 20, 2006

No. Driver Hometown Residence Team Sponsors
1. 2 Daniel Burkett (R) Winnipeg, Man., Canada Winnipeg, Man., Canada Cape Motorsports w/WTR Granite Financial Group Inc.
2. 3 Neil Alberico Los Gatos, CA Redlands, CA Cape Motorsports w/WTR Rising Star Racing/Mobe
3. 5 Garett Grist Grimsby, Ont., Canada Grimsby, Ont., Canada Juncos Racing Lander Property Management
4. 6 Timothe Buret (R) Montpellier, France Indianapolis, IN Juncos Racing Broadsign/TRAXX.FM/Driving Koncept
5. 7 Jose Gutierrez Monterrey, Mexico Monterrey, Mexico Juncos Racing Prisma
6. 10 Florian Latorre (R) Libourne, France Auriolles, France Cape Motorsports w/WTR du Sud-Ouest/COGNY/LATORRE Menuiserie/VISEZ/K1
7. 13 Bobby Eberle* Victoria, TX Houston, TX World Speed Motorsports
8. 14 Alessandro Latif (R) London, England London, England World Speed Motorsports Corthay
9. 21 Victor Franzoni (R) Sao Paulo, Brazil Sao Paulo, Brazil M1 Racing AutoEnginuity/Novac Sports
10. 22 Weiron Tan (R) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Houston, TX Andretti Autosport Weiron Tan Andretti Autosport
11. 23 Will Owen (R) Plano, TX Castle Rock, CO Juncos Racing AMR
12. 28 Dalton Kellett Toronto, Ont., Canada Indianapolis, IN Andretti Autosport K-Line Insulators USA, Inc.
13. 54 Michael Johnson Flint, MI Flint, MI JDC MotorSports Universal Coating Inc./BraunAbility
14. 57 Bob Kaminsky* (R) Lockport, IL Lockport, IL Kaminsky Racing, Inc. Slick Locks
15. 80 Raoul Owens (R) Pembrey, England Boston, MA Team Pelfrey Brightspark Ventures
16. 81 Santiago Urrutia (R) Miguelete, Uruguay Miguelete, Uruguay Team Pelfrey Ancap/BSE/Antel/Corporacion de Maquinaria/AgroLavalle/Fadisol
17. 82 Pato O’Ward (R) Monterrey, Mexico San Antonio, TX Team Pelfrey Octane Energy Drink
18. 91 Kyle Connery Stuart, FL Vero Beach, FL JDC MotorSports Hi-Tide Boat Lifts/Connery Concrete
*Expert Class
R = Series Rookie

Weiron Tan Moves into Title Contention with Runaway Iowa Victory

Newton, Iowa – Weiron Tan and Andretti Autosport kept alive their 100 percent record on the ovals this year by leading from flag-to-flag in this afternoon’s Pro Mazda Iowa 100 at Iowa Speedway, Round 12 of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.

The victory was Tan’s second on the ovals and fourth overall during an impressive rookie campaign, vaulting him from fourth to second place in the points standings with just four rounds remaining in the 16-race season.

The 100-lap race was interrupted by just a single full-course caution which came after 16 laps when Alessandro Latif (World Speed Motorsports) spun and collected the wall between Turns One and Two. The Englishman was uninjured.

Tan by then had already established a four-second lead over his nearest pursuer, championship leader Santi Urrutia (Team Pelfrey), and even though that margin was slashed to nothing by the caution, Tan immediately pulled away again at the restart. No one was able to offer a challenge as he romped clear to an astonishing 9.7311-second margin of victory.

2015 Iowa Pro Mazda Tan

Urrutia, from Uruguay, ran confidently in second place for most of the race before coming under pressure firstly from teenaged teammate Pato O’Ward. Dalton Kellett, in a second Andretti Autosport entry, also made up ground in the middle stages of the race, moving up rapidly after a tardy start from fourth on the grid. Kellett fell briefly from fifth to sixth after the restart, then overtook Frenchman Timothe Buret (Juncos Racing), who had made excellent early progress after starting 11th.

Kellett next worked his way past Florian Latorre (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing), who had run third in the early laps, then overtook the Pelfrey pair, O’Ward and Urrutia, in rapid succession to move into second place on Lap 69. The pass for third place on Lap 65 earned Kellett the RePlay XD Move of the Race Award. The Canadian could do nothing about his own teammate, Tan, who remained well out in front, but second place still represented Kellett’s best-ever finish.

Urrutia battled handling difficulties in the closing stages and slipped to fifth at the finish behind O’Ward, who snared his third podium finish in succession, and Canadian Daniel Burkett (Cape Motorsports), who charged from ninth in the early going to fourth.

2015 Iowa Pro Mazda Podium

Monterrey, Mexico’s Jose Gutierrez (Juncos Racing) earned the Quarter Master Hard Charger Award, passing Neil Alberico (Cape Motorsports) into Turn One for sixth place on the final lap to complete a stirring drive from 13th on the grid. Other contingencies included the PFC Award to the winning team, Andretti Autosport, and the Staubli Award to Kellett.

Urrutia now leads the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by a margin of 251-224 over Tan. Alberico follows on 218, then Buret, who slipped to ninth by the finish, on 210 and O’Ward on 203 as the championship heads next to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, for a pair of road course events on August 1-2.

Weiron Tan (#22 Andretti Autosport): “It was a tough race. 100 laps isn’t easy to begin with, but going around at such high speeds is especially difficult. Tire management is so important to keep the pace up. The Cooper tires did really well. This was a good comeback for us, after what happened in the first practice. The team really deserves it, coming in one-two. We worked hard with limited track time. We’re very lucky. We have really good guys around us to help us learn about the ovals. Especially for me, coming from Malaysia – oval track racing is not common. To be surrounded by experienced guys really helps us. We have four races to go and we’re never going to give up. We’re going to keep on pushing until the end and see what happens in the championship.”

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