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Team Pelfrey Expands to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires

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TAMPA, Fla. (October 26, 2015) – Team Pelfrey, 2015 Pro Mazda Champions, announced today that it has acquired all of the assets of 8Star Motorsports including the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires team and will expand the program to two cars for 2016. With the acquisition, Team Pelfrey becomes the only team to currently operate in all stages of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, as well as the F1600 Formula F Championship Series

“After watching the development and success of our F1600, USF2000 and Pro Mazda teams this season, I decided Team Pelfrey should take the next step,” said Dale Pelfrey.

“Rather than start from ground zero, we researched the market and quickly realized that absorbing the great people and resources at 8Star Motorsports was the best way possible to enter Indy Lights with Team Pelfrey. We will be entering the 2016 season with an already proven race winning package and cannot wait to get started.”

Gary Neal will continue as team manager for the Team Pelfrey Indy Lights team, and the current 8Star crew will continue to operate the Indy Lights team out of their Pompano Beach, Fla. Headquarters. All Team Pelfrey teams will be run in conjunction with each other, offering transparency in diverse operations.

“I am really excited to have the opportunity to build the Indy Lights team with Team Pelfrey,” says Neal. “Since my Engineer, Yves Touron, and mechanics are staying in placewith the new team I am sure we will be a contender for the Indy Lights Championship in 2016. It is a pleasure to work with such a passionate team owner as Dale Pelfrey.”

With the addition, Team Pelfrey becomes the largest operating open-wheel development team in North America and one of the largest teams in the world.  Beginning with the F1600, drivers will learn their trade in this proven category before graduating to the Mazda Road to Indy where Team Pelfrey will now have a prominent presence on every step of the ladder.

For more information about Team Pelfrey, please visit team-pelfrey.com and follow us on Twitter @TeamPelfrey.

Urrutia Wins Again for Team Pelfrey to Extend Pro Mazda Points Lead

Rickards and Agren Equal Their Best Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 Finishes at Mid-Ohio

PALMETTO, Fla. (August 4, 2015) – A hectic and successful weekend saw Team Pelfrey successfully contesting a total of eight races among three series at two different circuits. The Mazda Road to Indy visited the Mid-Ohio-Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, for two more rounds of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, in which Team Pelfrey’s Santi Urrutia earned his third win of the season, as well as three races counting toward the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda which saw Garth Rickards and Ayla Agren equal their best results to date. Meanwhile, a few hundred miles to the east at the Pittsburgh International Race Complex, English teenager Jordan Cane won two of the three races which comprised Round Five of the F1600 Formula F Championship Series.

Urrutia, 18, from Miguelete, Uruguay, began the weekend with a 27-point advantage in his quest for a MAZDASPEED scholarship to assist in graduation to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires in 2016. After posting a solid fourth-fastest time in qualifying, Urrutia moved into second place at the start of Saturday’s race behind title rival and race leader Neil Alberico. A few laps later, Alberico, who started second, was adjudged to have jumped the start and instructed to cede his position to Urrutia, who duly maintained his advantage to secure his third win of the year.

Sixteen-year-old Pato O’Ward, from Monterrey, Mexico, wasn’t able to extend his sequence of three podium finishes but he did make good progress, rising from 10th on the grid to seventh, while English teammate Raoul Owens jumped initially from 14th to 11th before fading to 13th at the checkered flag.

Race Two on Sunday morning saw Alberico take the win over Frenchman Timothe Buret, although another strong third-place finish for Urrutia enabled him to stretch his points lead to 29 over Alberico with only two races remaining. Buret has now moved into third, 47 points adrift, having overtaken Malaysian Weiron Tan, who has slipped from second to fourth.
Team Pelfrey remains in contention for the Team Championship, trailing Juncos racing by only 20 points, 355-335, with a total of 80 points still available from the final two races.

The first of three USF2000 races, held on Friday afternoon, ended prematurely for the unfortunate Rickards, who was unable to capitalize on his season-best qualifying position, fifth, due to an incident with teammate Gabin on Lap 4. Gabin went on to finish eighth, while Agren, who also posted her best qualifying effort to date, starting seventh, slipped back to 10th, narrowly ahead of Nikita Lastochkin in a fourth Team Pelfrey Van Diemen-Mazda.

Race Two on Saturday morning was more productive, with Rickards and Agren equaling their best finishes to date in fifth and sixth. Gabin took the checkered flag hot on their heels in seventh, with Lastochkin not too far behind in 10th.

Rickards and Gabin chased fellow rookie, Canadian Parker Thompson, for most of the final race of the weekend, on Saturday evening, before Gabin managed to find a way through into sixth at a restart with just two laps remaining. Rickards lost a couple of positions to finish eighth, while Lastochkin relieved Agren of 10th during a dramatic final lap.

The Pro Mazda and USF2000 seasons will wrap up with two more rounds at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca road course in Monterey, Calif., on September 11-13.

WHAT THE DRIVERS SAID:
Raoul Owens (#80 Team Pelfrey/Brightspark Ventures Pro Mazda) – Race One, started 14th, finished 13th; Race Two, started 13th, finished 13th: “This weekend was very challenging. I was confident I could achieve a good result and pick up where I left off at Toronto and leave Iowa behind. During practice I made good progress but qualifying didn’t go as planned and I started 13th. I’ve started from near the back a few times this season but have managed to come through and score some good points but this weekend I wasn’t able to do the same. I’m looking ahead to finish the season on a high.”

Santiago “Santi” Urrutia (#81 Team Pelfrey/Ancap/BSE/Antel/Corporacion de Maquinaria/AgroLavalle/Fadisol Pro Mazda) – Race One, started fourth, finished first; Race Two, started third, finished third: “It was a fantastic weekend where we all had to work very, very hard to achieve our win and third place. That’s because this season has been unbelievably competitive, and if you want to win in Pro Mazda, it takes a lot of hard work and togetherness between driver and team. I am so fortunate to have this group around me. But the approach doesn’t change; we go to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca where we have to be at our best to achieve positive results. As always, thank you to my fans, my sponsors and to my family for all of their love and support.”

Patricio “Pato” O’Ward (#82 Team Pelfrey/Octane Energy Drink/POW Motorsports Pro Mazda) – Race One, started 10th, finished seventh; Race Two, started 10th, finished sixth: “The weekend did not go as expected. I had a very bad qualifying session and that pretty much set up the final result due to being very difficult to pass in this track. I made some good passes during both races and I at least gained some positions and added some valuable championship points which still puts me fifth in the standings. I’m already focused for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to get the maximum out of me and the car.”

Ayla Agren (#81 Team Pelfrey/Energima/BVR/Alt I Asfalt/Salming Hockey/KNA/CoForce/Women’s Sports Foundation Van Diemen-Mazda) – Race One, started seventh, finished 10th; Race Two, started sixth, finished sixth; Race Three, started sevnth, finished 11th: “Coming back to Mid-Ohio is always nice, it’s a great track where we’ve got lots of good memories. With that said this last weekend was not what I had hoped it would be in terms of results. The positive side of this weekend was that we showed decent pace in practice, and in Race Two we matched the times of the drivers up front which was really encouraging. Now it’s on to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, trying to make that gap smaller and smaller!”

Luke Gabin (#82 Team Pelfrey/MAZDASPEED/Skip Barber/Mandurah Panel and Paint/Colbyson Van Diemen-Mazda) – Race One, started eighth, finished seventh; Race Two, started seventh, finished seventh; Race Three, started sixth, finished sixth: “I had a very up and down weekend at Mid-Ohio. I didn’t have a very good qualifying which made it quite hard to recover here where passing is limited. Hopefully we can run up front at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to appropriately represent the MAZDASPEED and Team Pelfrey USF2000 entry.”

Garth Rickards (#83 Team Pelfrey/Rahal Automotive Group/Snap 21 Van Diemen-Mazda) – Race One, started fifth, finished 18th; Race Two, started fifth, finished fifth; Race Three, started fifth, finished eighth: “Coming off a long break of being out of the car I had hit the reset button both mentally and physically coming into the weekend. Things started off good and we showed good pace Thursday and Friday morning with our best qualifying results of the year. Unfortunately we were stopped short of capitalizing on our track position in Race One due to being blatantly taken out by a teammate. Races Two and Three we showed strong pace and took a solid P5 finish. Overall I’m really proud of my mechanics and engineer for their dedication and hard work. I feel good about how I drove because I know I gave it 110 percent. My eyes are still set on that one goal of becoming an IndyCar driver and I’m focused on improving my driving and partnership opportunities.”

Nikita Lastochkin (#84 Team Pelfrey/Russkaya Mekhanika Van Diemen-Mazda) – Race One, started 13th, finished 11th; Race Two, started 12th, finished 10th; Race Three, started 12th, finished 10th: “I would say Mid-Ohio turned out to be one of the toughest weekends for me this year. Having had a lot of promise at the beginning, we could never sort out the issues on the car that carried on from the test all the way into qualifying. Starting in the back proved to be very tough indeed, even after you pass a few spots the gap to the group in front becomes too big to do anything in a sprint race. I would like to thank both Team Pelfrey driver coaches and my mechanic Cole for doing their best to keep my spirits up and showing me the positives to be carried out from the weekend. I’m ready to finish the season in a high note in September.”

AYLA AGREN FINISHES 6th IN RACE 1 AND 14th IN RACE 2 AT THE ANGIE’S LIST GRAND PRIX OF INDIANAPOLIS

AYLA AGREN FINISHES 6th IN RACE 1 AND 14th IN RACE 2 AT THE ANGIE’S LIST GRAND PRIX OF INDIANAPOLIS IN THE COOPER TIRES USF2000 CHAMPIONSHIP POWERED BY MAZDA

RACE NOTES/QUOTES—- Indianapolis, Indiana, May 11, 2015

Fast Facts:

Agren qualified 9th for Race 1 with a time of 1:27.5067.
During Race 1 the Norwegian got a good start and maintained her position. Agren stayed out of trouble, showing good pace, finishing the race in 6th place, earning her best finish so far this year.
For Race 2 Agren started 10th as her second fastest lap time (1:27.7648) from Friday’s qualifying earned her that position.
Saturday morning began well, with a good start where she moved up some positions. Ayla was in 8th position when she got a puncture on the last lap, which was a result of flat spotting the tire earlier in the race.
This weekend marked Agren’s first start at the IMS Road Course.
Not only is the Norwegian racing full-time in the US, but she’s a full time student as well. Agren commutes back and forth to Norway where she will complete her accounting and economics degree at BI Norwegian Business School in Norway this spring.
This year marks the second year for the Baerum, Norway native with Team Pelfrey.
Agren campaigned in the F1600 Championship Series in 2013 with Bryan Herta Autosport, finishing fourth overall, securing two podiums and two pole positions.
In 2014, the 21-year old joined Team Pelfrey in the F1600 Championship Series where she had a dominant season, recording three wins (Mid-Ohio, Pittsburgh, Watkins Glen), five podiums (three-2nd place finishes and two 3rd place finishes) and three pole positions. Agren then went onto clinch the 2014 F1600 Championship Series title, making her the first female in open-wheel racing to win a professional championship title.

Ayla Agren, No. 81 Team Pelfrey, on the races: “Overall it was a positive weekend for us. As a team we showed good pace, the car felt good and the race runs were decent. We finished in 6th position in Race 1, and Race 2 was looking good. I got a flat spot early in the race which then punctured on the last lap. That was a bit unfortunate, but I am very positive going forward building of the momentum we got here. Next race will be at Lucas Oil Raceway and the first time on an oval in the Team Pelfrey No. 81 car!”

Ayla’s thoughts on driving on the IMS Road Course: “Just getting to drive at IMS was a dream come true. It was definitely something special. My goal is to one day win the Indy 500, so I feel like it was a little teaser before you are able to hit the speedway.”

Back on Track: Ayla Agren will be back on track May 23rd at Lucas Oil Raceway (Indianapolis) the day before the Indianapolis 500 with Team Pelfrey and the Cooper Tires USF200 Championship Powered by Mazda. Please visit www.usf2000.com and www.aylaagren.com for more updates.

Team Pelfrey and Santi Urrutia Maintain Pro Mazda Title Challenge in Alabama

Gabin, Rickards Knocking on the Door of Top-Five Pace as USF2000 Team Gathers Momentum

Palmetto, Fla. (April 28, 2015) – Team Pelfrey’s Santiago “Santi” Urrutia continued to impress in last weekend’s pair of races that comprised the Mazda Grand Prix of Alabama at the scenic and challenging Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. Urrutia, 18, from Miguelete, Uruguay, moved to within a point of the lead in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires following a third-place finish on Saturday, and even though he lost a little ground in Race Two on Sunday, finishing second to series leader Neil Alberico, he lies just eight points in arrears with five of 16 races now in the books.

Teammate Pato O’Ward, from Monterrey, Mexico, also showed good pace, claiming a fifth and a seventh from the two 30-minute races.

Team Pelfrey’s newest foray onto the first rung on the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, also continues to bear fruit. Garth Rickards, 22, from Mechanicsburg, Pa., brought home the team’s best finish, sixth in Race One, while fellow rookie Luke Gabin, from Perth, Australia, displayed impressive speed before being involved in a couple of incidents which hindered his results. Ayla Agren, 21, from Norway, and 24-year-old Los Angeles-based Russian Nikita Lastoshkin also claimed top-10 finishes.

After struggling to match the leading pace both in Thursday testing and official practice on Friday morning, Urrutia and O’Ward worked with their engineers to make some setup changes to their Pro Mazda cars for the lone qualifying session later in the afternoon. The improvements enabled them to snag third and fourth places on the starting grid for Saturday’s first race. The pair were split on the opening lap by points leader Alberico, and with overtaking opportunities at a premium on the 2.3-mile, 17-turn track, both drivers were content to maintain their positions until the finish.

A messy start to Race Two on Sunday morning saw Alberico leapfrog from fourth on the grid into the lead ahead of Urrutia, while O’Ward found himself bundled down the order from fifth to 11th. Urrutia couldn’t quite match Alberico’s pace but still brought home another second-place finish – his fourth visit to the podium in just five Pro Mazda starts – while 15-year-old O’Ward once again displayed his maturity by fighting his way to seventh by the checkered flag.

The two USF2000 races – one held in dry conditions on Friday, the other in the rain on Saturday – saw Gabin running among the leaders on both occasions. A fine start to Race One saw the young Aussie rise from sixth on the grid to fourth, pursued by countryman Anthony Martin. The pair remained in close company until a small mistake saw Gabin run briefly off the road. It was enough to damage his car’s nosecone and end his race. Rickards (right) made up two places on the first lap, then passed young German Keyvan Andres Soori before finishing hot on the heels of Canadian Parker Thompson. Agren and Lastochkin, who started from the back of the grid following an incident earlier in the day, finished ninth and 10th.

Gabin again ran well in Race Two, chasing Friday winner Aaron Telitz for fifth in extremely wet conditions before sliding into the gravel. Rickards also slipped off the road, leaving Lastochkin as the highest-placed Pelfrey driver in eighth.

All three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy, which offers scholarships to help drivers progress from the grassroots of the sport to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500, will race next at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 7-9. A third Pro Mazda race will be held as a make-up for the event that was postponed by inclement weather recently at NOLA.

WHAT THE DRIVERS SAID:
Santiago “Santi” Urrutia (#81 Team Pelfrey/Ancap/BSE/Antel/Corporacion de Maquinaria/AgroLavalle/Fadisol Pro Mazda) – Race One, started third, finished third; Race Two, started third, finished second: “I am really happy because we were not so fast at the beginning of the weekend but we did a really good qualifying and secured two podiums. It was excellent points for the championship and we need to keep it this way. Now we head to Indianapolis for the month of May, so let’s push for the victory there! I must thank my fans, my supporters and also Team Pelfrey for the great car.”

Patricio “Pato” O’Ward (#82 Team Pelfrey/Octane Energy Drink/POW Motorsports Pro Mazda) – Race One, started fourth, finished fifth; Race Two, started fifth, finished seventh: “This weekend did not go as planned. I did not know it was very, very difficult to pass until Race One, so our starting position did not favor us. Race One we ended P5 giving Alberico a good fight for fourth. Race Two I had many problems in the start and got shuffled back from fifth to 11th and then made my way back up to seventh. It’s amazing how hard it was to pass but I just needed to put my head down and keep moving forward for maximum points. Thanks to everyone that supports me and I’m very excited for Indianapolis GP which is a track I like and I know I am quick there.”

Ayla Agren (#81 Team Pelfrey/Energima/BVR/Alt I Asfalt/Salming Hockey/KNA/CoForce/Women’s Sports Foundation Van Diemen-Mazda) – Race One, started 11th, finished ninth; Race Two, started 11th, finished 10th: “A bit of a tough weekend for us – top-10 finishes but I know we have more to work with so we can get the results we are capable of doing. We are getting all the pieces together and will come back stronger at the GP of Indy.”

Luke Gabin (#82 Team Pelfrey/MAZDASPEED/Skip Barber/Mandurah Panel and Paint/Colbyson Van Diemen-Mazda) – Race One, started sixth, finished 15th; Race Two, started fifth, finished 14th: “A really up-and-down weekend for me at Barber. We had top-five pace the whole weekend until bad luck struck me in both races. The car is definitely where I want it and my driving is better than ever. I’m hoping to continue this pace into the Indy GP weekend and grab some good results.”

Garth Rickards (#83 Team Pelfrey/Rahal Automotive Group/Snap 21 Van Diemen-Mazda) – Race One, started 10th, finished sixth; Race Two, started eighth, finished 11th: “I want to start off by saying how much fun Barber Motorsports Park is to race on and how much I enjoyed the weekend as a whole. I seemed to struggle in a few areas in testing on Thursday and the early part of Friday but really felt like I figured it out in the race Friday afternoon. Saturday was a different beast and I was improving every lap but with two to go I made another mistake and ended up toward the back of the pack. Overall I think myself and the team are getting better and I’m so exited to finally drive in Indy! The focus will be on eliminating the mistakes I’ve been making and to maximize myself in qualifying.”

Nikita Lastochkin (#84 Team Pelfrey/Russkaya Mekhanika) – Race One, started 15th, finished 10th; Race Two, started 12th, finished eighth: “It was a good weekend overall. We had some ups and downs. After the incident in practice I had to miss qualifying and start from the back of the grid. It was a good experience and I was able to make up a few spots and finish 10th. The second race gave us yet again more of the valuable seat time in the wet. As a team overall, we have seen great improvement in pace even though the results don’t reflect that yet. I am very excited to carry on the momentum into Indy and start off on a high and finish that way.”

Urrutia Earns Stunning Pro Mazda Win for Team Pelfrey at Treacherous NOLA

Team Pelfrey’s Four Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 Drivers All Claim Top-10 Results

New Orleans, La. (April 13, 2015) – Some dramatic weather caused a variety of disruptions when the Verizon IndyCar Series and two steps on the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder made their debut at NOLA Motorsports Park, where one of the most impressive performances was turned by Team Pelfrey’s Santi Urrutia. The youngster from Miguelete, Uruguay showed his performance in the first two rounds of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires two weeks ago at St. Petersburg, Fla., was no flash in the pan by scoring a magnificent victory in diabolical conditions at the 2.74-mile, 13-turn permanent road course situated just a few miles from downtown New Orleans. Mexican teammate Pato O’Ward also impressed, posting the fastest lap of the race en route to a fourth-place finish, while all four of Team Pelfrey’s charges in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda returned home with a top-10 finish to their names.

The Pro Mazda competitors had to contend with a series of disruptions, with Race One being postponed from Saturday until 8:00 a.m. on Sunday due to thunderstorms and their second race being canceled altogether due to worsening conditions.

It didn’t matter to Urrutia. The 18-year-old made a superb start from second on the grid, ousting pole-sitter Weiron Tan at the first, then held off the attentions of the Malaysian to score a well-deserved maiden victory. Urrutia’s performance was all the more remarkable for the fact he did not contest the Cooper Tires Winterfest mini-series earlier in the year at NOLA.

O’Ward also had the bit between his teeth, passing last year’s USF2000 champion Florian Latorre on Lap Four and earning an additional championship point for posting the fastest lap of the race as he chased after Frenchman Timothe Buret.

The USF2000 competitors at least were able to enjoy their full quota of action, even though both races were cut from 30 minutes to 20. Race One was held under increasingly threatening skies but in dry conditions on Saturday afternoon. Gabin was Team Pelfrey’s best finisher, starting ninth and finishing eighth, although that tells only part of the story. The Australian slipped back to 11th in mid-race, then profited when two cars made contact on the final lap and teammate Rickards, running 10th, also was forced off-track to avoid the incident. Agren and Lastochkin completed the top 10.

Sunday’s Race Two was held in heavy rain and again saw the Team Pelfrey contingent embroiled in drama. Rickards looked set for a top-five finish until making a mistake with three laps remaining, dropping him back to eighth, while Agren, Lastochkin and Gabin (right) all suffered spins which restricted them to 11th, 12th and 14th, respectively.

The entire Mazda Road to Indy, comprising USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights will return to action, once again in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series, in two weeks’ time, April 24-26, at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

WHAT THE DRIVERS SAID:
Santiago “Santi” Urrutia (#81 Team Pelfrey/Ancap/BSE/Antel/Corporacion de Maquinaria/AgroLavalle/Fadisol Pro Mazda) – Started second, finished first: “We had to learn the track from scratch so we weren’t all that quick (early in the weekend). And then in qualifying we did a good job with P2. I’m really happy with the race in the rain, where I was able to overtake Weiron Tan and then kept the lead the whole race. I’m so happy for my first win in the U.S. and I have to thank Mazda, Team Pelfrey and my sponsors for their support. This is just the beginning, we have a long way to go still.”

Patricio “Pato” O’Ward (#82 Team Pelfrey/Octane Energy Drink/POW Motorsports Pro Mazda) – Started fifth, finished fourth: “The weekend went pretty well. We started off the weekend with top-three finishes in the two practice sessions. When it came to qualifying I pushed the car too much and made a couple of mistakes but then put my head down and made some pretty good laps. The race was under very difficult circumstances. The track had zero visibility and was extremely wet. I was starting fifth and made my way up to fourth, attacking for third with quickest lap time. So, overall, great job from the team, and I am definitely ready for Barber in two weeks.”

Ayla Agren (#81 Team Pelfrey/Energima/Women’s Sports Foundation Van Diemen-Mazda) – Race One, started 11th, finished ninth; Race Two, started 12th, finished 11th: “We made pretty good improvements through the event, so I’m happy we made progress. We still have some work to do, but with another P10 finish we are getting closer. For Race Two the rain we had been expecting finally fell, and it was a good experience to drive on a fully wet track. I’m looking forward to be back on track at Barber in two weeks with Team Pelfrey in the #81 car!”

Luke Gabin (#82 Team Pelfrey/MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Van Diemen-Mazda) – Race One, started ninth, finished eighth; Race Two, started ninth, finished 14th: “A really good weekend for me at NOLA. Our progression was great. We are now really close to the top five. We still have to iron out a few issues that we faced during the races but overall I’m extremely pleased with our pace throughout the weekend.”

Garth Rickards (#83 Team Pelfrey/Rahal Automotive Group/Snap 21 Van Diemen-Mazda) – Race One, started 12th, finished 11th; Race Two, started sixth, finished eighth: “It was a very interesting weekend to say the least. It took longer than we liked to get the car dialed in to where I like it. To go along with that the track conditions were different every time we went out. Overall we found some good pace and I had strong runs in both races. Race One we were going to have a top-10 but I was forced to take action on avoiding an incident right in front of me and it bumped me back to 11th. The good news was that my fast lap moved me up to sixth for Race Two. I made it up to fourth in my first full rain race before I made a rookie mistake with about three laps to go and finished eighth. Overall I just need to qualify better and put a full race together. My guys deserve a good result and I’m determined to be at the front.”

Team Pelfrey and Santi Urrutia Second in Pro Mazda Points After St. Petersburg

All Four Team Pelfrey Drivers Claim Top-10 Finishes in Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 Openers

Palmetto, Fla. (March 31, 2015) – Team Pelfrey was well-represented this weekend as the Mazda Road to Indy, which offers “scholarships” for drivers to progress all the way from the grassroots of the sport to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500, kicked off its season on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., just a few miles from the team’s base in Palmetto. Santiago “Santi” Urrutia and Patricio “Pato” O’Ward both earned top-four finishes from the opening rounds of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, while Garth Rickards, Nikita Lastochkin, Ayla Agren and Luke Gabin all finished among the top 10 in at least one of the two races on the first step of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Urrutia, 18, from Miguelete, Uruguay, played a starring role in the Allied Building Products Grand Prix of St. Petersburg for Pro Mazda. After a bold pass of front-row qualifier Daniel Burkett on Lap 2 of the opening race on Saturday, Urrutia maintained second place throughout the half-hour contest to conclude his debut with a well-earned visit to the podium. Teammate O’Ward, originally from Monterrey, Mexico, and now a resident of San Antonio, Texas, ran as high as third before being involved in an incident and settling for a fourth-place finish.

O’Ward wasn’t so fortunate in Race Two on Sunday, forced out by a first-lap accident, but Urrutia continued to impress by making another excellent start and finishing just off the podium in fourth. Urrutia is placed second in driver points following the first weekend of the 16-race season, while Team Pelfrey lies second in the Team standings.

The Cooper Tires Grand Prix of St. Petersburg USF2000 races did not begin well for Team Pelfrey as Gabin, from Perth, Australia, was involved in a multi-car accident at the first corner of the opening race. His teammates all managed to escape the carnage, with Rickards ultimately finishing sixth, while Agren and Lastochkin rounded out the top 10.

Rickards continued to head the team’s challenge in Race Two on Sunday, rising from ninth on the grid to seventh before being involved in a heavy accident while challenging Canadian karting star Parker Thompson for sixth. Gabin, who earned his opportunity with the team by virtue of winning the 2014 Skip Barber Racing Championship shootout and a MazdaMotorsports.com scholarship, headed teammates Lastochkin and Agren during the ensuing full-course caution, whereupon Lastochkin executed a pass shortly after the restart to finish eighth, with Gabin and Agren in hot pursuit.

Both Pro Mazda and USF2000 teams will continue their seasons in two weeks’ time, April 10-12, at NOLA Motorsports Park, just a few miles from downtown New Orleans, once again in support of the Verizon Indycar Series.

WHAT THE DRIVERS SAID:
Santiago “Santi” Urrutia (#81 Team Pelfrey/Ancap/BSE/Antel/Corporacion de Maquinaria/AgroLavalle/Fadisol) – Race One, started third, finished second; Race Two, started fourth, finished fourth: “I really enjoyed my Mazda Road to Indy debut, and to get a second and fourth represents great points for the championship. After this weekend, I understand how important qualifying is in this series, and that will be an area we will be focusing on improving. Really looking forward to NOLA as the team performed well there in WinterFest. I have to thank Team Pelfrey, my partners and the love from my family for making all of this possible.”

Patricio “Pato” O’Ward (#82 Team Pelfrey/Octane Energy Drink/POW Motorsports) – Race One, started sixth, finished fourth; Race Two, started eighth, finished 14th: “It was a rough start to the 2015 season. It was my first time in a street course and my fourth time in the Pro Mazda car. We were progressing and kept improving but unfortunately had a bad qualifying session which put us in a tough position to start. Race One we had amazing pace until I made contact with third place which bent my left-front wheel and I started to struggle to keep up the pace. Race Two I had an incident in Turn Four which put me out of the race. I have learned from my mistakes and will get better and better during the season. I can’t wait for the next race to turn this disappointment in myself around and get some momentum back. Thanks to Team Pelfrey for this opportunity and for believing in me. Now it’s time for me to give back everything that they have given me!”

Nikita Lastochkin (#80 Team Pelfrey/RM Van Diemen-Mazda) – Race One, started 10th, finished 10th; Race Two, started 12th, finished eighth: “It was not a bad weekend all things considered. There were changes made to my car after Winterfest which led to problems in the braking system. It took us a while to get it sorted out, and we pretty much finished our second race where we should have started on Friday morning. I’m happy to being able to avoid the wrecks in both races and look forward to NOLA.”

Ayla Agren (#81 Team Pelfrey/Energima/Women’s Sports Foundation Van Diemen-Mazda) – Race One, started 13th, finished ninth; Race Two, started 13th, finished 10th: “So happy that the season has finally started. With the opening race being in St. Pete it was a home race for both Team Pelfrey and myself. And with it being my first time on a street course, it could not have been a better place to start. With a ninth and 10th finish we had a decent start to the year, and just have to build on that and gain the experience we need to get the results we want.”

Luke Gabin (#82 Team Pelfrey/MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Van Diemen-Mazda) – Race One, started 11th, finished 17th; Race Two, started 11th, finished ninth: “The St Pete GP was an awesome opener for the season. It was so much fun to race between the walls for the first time. I learned a ton, the racing was superb and the atmosphere was incredible . The results weren’t spectacular but we’re just at the beginning of what is going to be an incredible journey for the #82 Mazdaspeed car. I can’t thank Mazda enough for this opportunity.”

Garth Rickards (#83 Team Pelfrey/Rahal Automotive Group/Snap 21 Van Diemen-Mazda) – Race One, started sixth, finished seventh; Race Two, started ninth, finished 15th: “It was really exciting to get things kicked off this weekend. We struggled a bit in the beginning but we definitely figured it out and got our feet under us. We were having a great race in Race Two and were moving through the field quickly. Unfortunately I got taken out from behind and damaged the car and my ankle. I am focused on getting healed up and cleared from the doctors so I can be back in the car at NOLA. I just feel bad for my guys because they work so hard and they deserve good results.”

Team Pelfrey Signs Two Exciting Youngsters for Pro Mazda Campaign

Mexico’s O’Ward and Uruguay’s Urrutia Add International Flair to the Mazda Road to Indy

Palmetto, Fla. (March 19, 2015) – On the heels of victory in the recent Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Winterfest mini-series, Team Pelfrey today is proud to confirm that talented teenagers Patricio “Pato” O’Ward and Santiago “Santi” Urrutia will contest the entire Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires which begins with a pair of races March 28/29 just a few miles from the team’s base in St. Petersburg, Fla.

O'Ward_IMS-test (800x494)

O’Ward is no stranger to the team after impressing during the annual Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last fall. The talented youngster will be the youngest competitor in the series at just 15 years of age but has amassed a strong resume in karting, including victory in the 2012 SKUSA SuperNats Junior Stock Moto Championship. He also posted one win during a partial 2014 season in the extremely competitive French F4 Championship.

“I am really pumped and excited for this Pro Mazda 2015 racing season,” said O’Ward, who was born in Monterrey, Mexico, but moved with his family at age 6 to San Antonio, Texas, where he now attends the Texas Military Institute, balancing his time between his education and his racing. “I am extremely thankful for this great opportunity Team Pelfrey has given me. I have changed my focus from racing in Europe to racing in the United States on the Mazda Road to Indy. My objective for this year is to be the youngest ever Pro Mazda champion and then make the jump to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires. In longer terms my goal is to reach the Verizon IndyCar Series and become the youngest ever champion.”

Urrutia also is switching his attention to the Mazda Road to Indy after achieving success in the South American karting ranks and then competing in Europe since 2011. The 18-year-old from Miguelete, Uruguay, raced for two years in the Italian-based Formula Abarth Championship, followed by single seasons in Formula 3 and, in 2014, the GP3 Series in support of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

“I am really excited about the upcoming season,” said Urrutia. “Making the switch from Europe is a big change for me, but the Mazda Road to Indy is without doubt the place to be and I can’t wait to get down to work with Team Pelfrey.”

Both youngsters have displayed good speed in recent tests, leading Team Pelfrey Team Manager Nigel Tuckey to be optimistic about the team’s prospects for the season.

“I am convinced that Pato is one of the most exciting young talents to have emerged in quite a while, and it will be fascinating to see how he progresses and develops throughout the year,” said Tuckey. “Santi has shown very well in Europe in recent years, and if his testing performance with us is anything to go by we have a very exciting driver pairing. I can safely say we are looking forward to St Petersburg and getting the 2015 season started.”

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