Afterburner Autosport Ready for Cooper Tires Winterfest
 February 18, 2014| 
  • Team News
Franzoni, Myasava and Slaghekke set to fight for top honors in New Orleans

MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. – The chase for race wins in 2014 begins this coming weekend for Afterburner Autosport with the opening three rounds of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda 'off-season' Cooper Tires Winterfest Series (February 21-22). Seeking to not only add to the Minnesota-based team's winning record, but also lay the foundations for a title contending effort in the upcoming USF2000 campaign, Brazilian rookies Victor Franzoni and Gustavo Myasava, and second-year Dutch driver Jeroen Slaghekke will be on track at NOLA Motorsports Park outside of New Orleans, La., piloting their respective Afterburner entries.

For a third consecutive season, the top drivers and teams within the USF2000 Championship will gather for the traditional 'off-season' fight for supremacy in the Winterfest Series. This two-event, six-race championship provides teams with the opportunity to prepare for the full USF2000 season in a highly competitive racing environment. The 2014 edition will mark the first-time that Afterburner Autosport has taken part in Winterfest action. With Franzoni and Myasava being newcomers to both the race-winning team, and the USF2000 Championship, and Slaghekke having joined the squad mid-way through last year's campaign, the winter program will provide an ideal opportunity to get the ball rolling towards a title contending season.

Building on a USF2000 Championship that featured two wins in the final four races in 2013, as well as third and fourth-place finishes, the entire Afterburner Autosport squad has been hard at work in the lead-up to the opening Winterfest tripleheader. Following the year-end Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Test at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, which featured Afterburner Autosport at the top of the speedcharts when the final checkered flag waved, the skilled crew stripped their Mazda-powered Van Diemen racecars down to the frame, before meticulously rebuilding them for the start of the 2014 campaign. In addition, data and video from the past season was analyzed extensively, in order to further provide the talented trio of Franzoni, Myasava, and Slaghekke with all the tools and information necessary to rise to the forefront on the first rung of the Mazda Road to Indy program.

The initial chance to fight for places on the podium comes at NOLA Motorsports Park. The first three rounds of the 2014 Winterfest Series marks the first-ever visit by the USF2000 Championship to the 16-turn, 2.75-mile road course, which is located just outside of New Orleans. Given the layout of the track, the Afterburner trio will be focused on working with the skilled crew to fine-tune the balance of their cars, while at the same time maximizing straight-line speed.

"The Winterfest Series is a great opportunity to get stuck in with the team, and is a great preparation for the coming season," said Slaghekke. "Having six races really helps get the rust off the racecraft before the championship starts. I see the Winterfest Series first and foremost as an opportunity to prepare myself for the season, and I will be focused on getting as much useful running as I can."

"I'm very excited for the Winterfest Series, and the start of the upcoming USF2000 Championship season," commented Franzoni. "I think we will do a great job, as our car is really fast, and I'm preparing myself physically and mentally. I believe we will have a strong start to the 2014 season."

The on-track action for Afterburner Autosport's Franzoni, Myasava, and Slaghekke, and the rest of the Cooper Tires Winterfest Series racers commences on Friday morning (February 21), with a practice run, followed by the lone qualifying session just before the lunch break. Round One is slated for 3:15 pm local time. Rounds Two and Three at NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans, La., are scheduled for 10:45 am and 3:15 pm on Saturday (February 22). Live timing and scoring will be available at www.usf2000.com/Multimedia/Live.aspx.

Additional information on Afterburner Autosport is available from the team’s website AfterburnerAutosport.com. For direct contact, please email afterburnerautosport@gmail.com or call Brian Tomasi @ 630-251-1709 or Tim Walsh @ 612-581-2499.

Keep up to date via Twitter @ABautosport1 and Facebook page @ Afterburner-Autosport

Learn more about Victor Franzoni at VictorFranzoni.com and keep up to date via Twitter @ VictorFranzoni and Facebook @ Victor Franzoni 

Learn more about Jeroen Slaghekke at JeroenSlaghekke.com and keep up to date via Twitter @JeroenSlaghekke, Facebook @ Jeroen Slaghekke Racing, and YouTube @ Jeroen Slaghekke

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About Afterburner Autosport:
Afterburner Autosport was formed in 2010 with the sole purpose of leading the way in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda competition. Under the guidance of two-time SCCA Formula Continental National Champion Brian Tomasi and fellow F2000 racer and engineer Tim Walsh, the team has over 20 years of experience in open-wheel competition. The Minnesota, Min.-based squad, having captured two podium finishes in its inaugural pro racing season in 2011, has continually developed and grown as it joined the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. In 2013, Afterburner Autosport scored its inaugural series wins with rookie Alex Baron. The highly regarded team returns to the first rung of the Mazda Road to Indy program in 2014 via a talented multi-car effort.
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