Palmetto, Fla. – The new auto racing season is barely under way but the level of intensity will be high when all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy travel this week to Barber Motorsports Park in rural Alabama. Talented young Americans Zach Veach, Spencer Pigot and RC Enerson have grasped early advantages in their respective championship chases and will be looking to maintain their momentum as each series will host a pair of races which will once again run in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series.
The highly acclaimed – and unique – development ladder offers opportunities for talented drivers to graduate all the way from the grass roots of the sport to the Verizon IndyCar Series with MAZDASPEED scholarship prizes at every stage. The various levels – beginning with the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and progressing through the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires – have attracted drivers from around the globe. In all, 16 different nations will be represented among the three series this weekend.
Americans Enerson and Eidson at the Front in USF2000
Drivers from nine different countries will contest the third and fourth rounds of the highly competitive USF2000 series, which will be making its regular season debut at Barber Motorsports Park.
RC Enerson, 17, from New Port Richey, Fla., holds the early advantage for Team E Racing after finishing second in the season opener at St. Petersburg, then winning Round Two comfortably. Enerson also won at Barber in February to secure the preseason Cooper Tires Winterfest mini-series crown.
Brazilian rookie Victor Franzoni (Afterburner Autosport) claimed the other race victory in Florida but was disqualified from second place following Round Two when his car failed post-race technical inspection.
Franzoni thus languishes fifth in the point standings entering this weekend’s double-header.
Second place in the points table currently is held by another highly rated American, Jake Eidson. The 18-year-old already is a proven winner after securing three Skip Barber Racing titles and the 2013 F1600 Championship Series in addition to a coveted Team USA Scholarship. Eidson, who earned a fourth and a second from the first two races, drives for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing which has won the past three USF2000 crowns.
A pair of young Frenchman, Nico Jamin and Florian Latorre, claimed a third-place finish apiece at St. Petersburg with Belardi Auto Racing.
Both teenagers are expected to be among the front-runners again this week, although Latorre has switched camps and has joined Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing for the remainder of the season.
Others to watch will include Adrian Starrantino, who began his rookie campaign with a pair of top-six results in Florida, and JAY Motorsports teammate Colton Herta – the 14-year-old son of former Indy Lights champion and 2011 Indianapolis 500-winning team owner Bryan Herta – who was too young to drive at St. Petersburg but served notice of his talent last year by dominating the Pacific F1600 Championship.
In common with the other Mazda Road to Indy series, the 23-car USF2000 field will commence the weekend with a pair of promoter test sessions on Thursday, followed by practice at 12:30 p.m. CT on Friday, April 25 and qualifying later in the afternoon at 4:00 p.m. The pair of races will be held on Saturday, April 26, with the green flag for Race One slated for 9:05 a.m. and Race Two at 1:00 p.m.