Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing up-and-comer overcame rare mechanical issue to exit season-opening doubleheader with victory and new lap record
LOS GATOS, CALIF. – American up-and-comer Neil Alberico started his pursuit of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda title with a convincing win this past week (March 14-15) at the historic Sebring International Raceway. After a rare mechanical issue prevented the Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing star from building on his Winterfest series title in Round One, the California native rebounded with a commanding win in Round Two. Alberico is now poised to continue his winning ways when the action resumes just down the road in St. Petersburg, Fla., this weekend (March 23-24).
After being the driver to beat in the six-race pre-season Winterfest championship - where he won five races en route to the title - expectations were high for Alberico entering the first two races on the USF2000 Championship calendar during the famed Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring event. The former Bondurant Championship title winner and Team USA Scholarship driver immediately lived up to the pressure, topping the final test session and opening practice run. Continually looking to better himself and his No. 2 Racelite Protection/Bondurant School of High Performance Driving/eFormulaCarNews.com/J&M Trophies/Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing entry every time he hit the track, Alberico remained at the pointy end of the speedcharts in the final practice session - third quickest - before ultimately earning a front-row starting position for the 2013 season-opener via the second best time in qualifying.
Alberico and the Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing crew were eager to go racing when the large and talented 31-car field rolled on-course on Thursday afternoon for race one of the Sebring twin bill. That excitement, however, immediately vanished when the green flag waved, as Alberico failed to get away as desired. As a result of what was later determined as a mechanical issue, the 20 year-old's racer had no power. Coasting around the 3.7-mile track, Alberico retired after the completion of lap one.
While the rising junior formula car racer was extremely disappointed with the result, he was aware that these things happen in racing, and the key is to rebound in style. Alberico was also aided by the fact that a new series rule meant that rather than relying solely on each driver's fast lap from race one to set the grid for race two, each driver's second best lap in qualifying was also now utilized, placing the Californian fifth on the grid for Round Two.
Returning to the cockpit one day later, Alberico was focused on again showcasing his skills behind the wheel. He promptly did just that when the starter got the action underway, taking over second place on lap one just prior to a racing incident behind resulted in a full-course caution. When the action resumed following a lengthy clean-up, Alberico made the most of his ever growing experience to pass for the lead in turn one via a bold outside maneuver. From that point forward he never looked back. Alberico promptly turned fast lap after fast lap while out front, setting a new race lap record in the process, before ultimately capturing the win by over three seconds.
"Friday's win was probably one of the most rewarding victories I have had in my entire career," commented Alberico. "We hit a minor bump in the road early on, and it just feels good to have recovered so quickly. It was a great example of how great the Cape Motorsports guys work together as a team, and how everyone's attitude and mind set are all in the same place regardless of the circumstance. The streets of St. Petersburg is one of my favorite events on the schedule, and I cannot wait to get back on track next week!"
Alberico and his Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing squad have little time to savor the Sebring win, as the quest for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda title resumes this coming weekend (March 23-24), with two more races on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. With the entire Mazda Road to Indy program on display as part of the IZOD IndyCar Series season-opener, Alberico is keen to add to his 2013 win tally. The action starts on Friday (March 22) with two practice sessions. Day two features a morning qualifying session, followed by Round Three at 12:15 pm local time. The Florida doubleheader concludes on Sunday (March 24), with Round Four at 9:30 am local time. Live timing and scoring will be available at www.f2000.com/Multimedia/Live.aspx
Those interested in supporting this rising American racer are encouraged to contact Neil Alberico directly @ firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss sponsorship opportunities.
Learn more about Neil Alberico at neilalberico.com and keep up to date via Twitter @ NeilAlberico and Facebook @ Neil-Alberico-Racing.
### About Neil Alberico:
A native of Los Gatos, Calif., Alberico first started racing karts at the age of 10, competing in IKF region 11 action. Over the course of four seasons (2004-07), the young talent captured the Junior Sportsman, Junior Super Sportsman, and Junior Puma championship titles. In 2008, Alberico first got behind the wheel of a race car, graduating from the Skip Barber 2-day Advanced school at Laguna Seca prior to participating in the Formula BMW recruitment day at Miller Motorsports Park. Continuing to race in the karting ranks while raising funds to pursue a career in motorsports, Alberico won the Snap-On Stars of Karting Series National finale in Las Vegas in 2009, before finishing third in CKI National TAG Senior championship. Alberico built on this success in 2010, winning the TaG Senior class in the WSK North American Series, as well as the Bondurant Championship Race Series, capturing 10 wins in first full season of car competition. As part of the prize package for winning the Bondurant Championship, the teenager tested a Pro Formula Mazda with World Speed Motorsports and a Formula Atlantic Swift 016.a with Finlay Motorsports. In 2011, Alberico made his European racing debut, competing in the world-renowned Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain with Irish-based Cliff Dempsey Racing. Finish ninth in his maiden FF season, the Californian earned a Team USA Scholarships. As a Team USA driver, he captured a Semi-Final win and finished third in the historic 40th Formula Ford Festival. Alberico joined the Mazda Road to Indy program in 2012, earning a podium finish and nine top-fives in his rookie season in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. This season, the California standout returns to USF2000 Championship action, joining two-time defending champion Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing.