Canadian USF2000 team to field three-car line-up at season opener
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.
– Exclusive Autosport will mark a new milestone this weekend when the team makes its Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires debut, competing at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in Florida. Over the past four years, they have made a name for themselves winning F1600 championships in both Canada and the United States, and they have now expanded their program into the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda with a strong three-car effort. Series veterans Parker Thompson and Luke Gabin will be joined by rookie Dev Gore in the opening round of the 2017 schedule, which is part of the ladder system to the Verizon IndyCar Series. The event is one of the most popular on the IndyCar circuit and the Exclusive Autosport team will hit the track in front of 1000s of fans on a challenging 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary racing circuit laid out of the waterfront streets of the Florida Gulf Coast city. The event is a doubleheader weekend and will see the drivers go to battle in two races, both running on Saturday.
"I am extremely proud of the team that I have assembled to compete in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda,” offered Michael Duncalfe, Exclusive Autosport team owner. “We have some very talented engineers (Daryl Bear and John Block) to complement our strong driver talent (Parker Thompson, Luke Gabin and Dev Gore) and a phenomenal crew chief in Jay Green to lead our crew of mechanics. This is Exclusive Autosport's debut weekend in the MRTI, however for many of us, including myself, we have competed in one way or another in this space. We are eager to get the season underway! That said, we are going to put our heads down, work hard and do everything we can to come out on top."
Canadian Parker Thompson, 19, returns to the series as the 2016 vice-champion, having come within just a few points of winning the title in his second year in the USF2000 program. Thompson scored four wins last year, and his dominant success on the streets of Toronto last July bode well for a strong run this weekend on a similar circuit. The Canadian has the crucial experience that is needed to succeed on the tight confines of this narrow street circuit and will be a contender for the crown.
Australian Luke Gabin, 21, now lives in St. Petersburg, so success at his home race would be a massive positive to start the season. This will be Gabin’s third season in the series and he is widely respected as one of the most talented drivers in the USF2000 paddock.
American Dev Gore, 19, completes Exclusive’s international line-up and comes to the team with a stacked karting resume that includes two major Rotax Max championships in 2016. This will be Gore’s first season in the Mazda Road to Indy, and he has his sights set on the Rookie of the Year crown.
The USF2000 events at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will begin on Thursday, as the drivers will be first on-track with a practice session in the early evening. They’ll head into two separate qualifying sessions on Friday, one for each main event, which will be run on Saturday. The first of two races will take place at 8:10 am Eastern, while the second final of the doubleheader will be front and centered in front of a packed house at 2:00 pm. The on-track action from St. Petersburg will also be streamed live on the Mazda Road to Indy app or through the MRTI.TV website (www.roadtoindy.tv), as will the entire USF2000 season.
Exclusive Autosport is thrilled to start to the new season and is pleased to tackle this new challenge with the support of fantastic partners, such as AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology (www.rethinkpaint.com), which is used on all their race cars. EXCLUSIVE AUTOSPORT – DRIVER INFORMATION
PARKER THOMPSON - #90
: 19 Hometown
: Red Deer, Alberta, Canada Residence
: Red Deer, Alberta, Canada Sponsors
: Openhwy, Weyburn Energy, Exclusive Autosport, Drive to Stay Alive, Sparco, AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology
: “I couldn't be more eager to get the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda started with the Exclusive Autosport boys this weekend in St. Pete. We've all put our heads down as a team, and I think we're going to bring a very competitive package to the season opener. I can't thank the entire crew enough for their dedication to the process thus far. Most of all, I'm excited to showcase their hard work in results this week."
LUKE GABIN - #91
: 21 Hometown
: Perth, Australia Residence
: St. Petersburg, FL Sponsors
: Exclusive Autosport, AER Apartments, Carmel Kitchen Tampa, AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology
Instagram: @lukegabin Driver Input
: “I’m extremely excited to get to work this weekend here at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. We've been working very hard to improve the car and being able to race in the same city that I sleep in is even better! I cannot thank Exclusive Autosport, AER Apartments and Carmel Kitchen Tampa enough for this opportunity!” DEV GORE - #92
: 19 Hometown
: Seattle, WA Residence
: St. Petersburg, FL Sponsors
: AER Apartments, Carmel Kitchens, Bell Racing USA, Smart Race Paint, AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology
: “I am really excited to get the season underway. I feel like I have been waiting forever. I have had such a hectic off-season; I can't wait to just shut my Bell Racing USA visor and go to work on the streets of St. Pete. I expect all the Exclusive Autosport cars to be up front and have a lot of faith in my team to get us there. Everything changes when the green flag flies.” About Exclusive Autosport
Exclusive Autosport (EA) is a professional racing team dedicated to the success of its drivers in open wheel formula car competition in North America. EA operate teams in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda in the United States and the Formula Tour 1600 series in Canada. Exclusive’s drivers have secured numerous race wins, podium finishes and pole positions, as well as Rookie of the Year championships, a Team USA Scholarship and nominations for Team Canada F1600. Exclusive’s drivers are on the podium in over 80% of the races they enter. Exclusive Management Inc., the team’s parent company, has enjoyed great success in both open wheel and sports car racing and has worked with standout drivers like Thomas McGregor, Jack Mitchell Jr., Shelby Blackstock, Gregory Liefooghe, Jayson Clunie, David Levine and Trenton Estep. EM Inc. drivers are highly sought after in the motorsports industry.