Palmetto, Fla. – Team Pelfrey served notice of its intentions today by naming three talented young drivers representing as many different nations who will join its initial foray into the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. Team Pelfrey also runs multi-car programs in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the F1600 Championship Series.
The youngsters, Ayla Agren, from Oslo, Norway, Nikita Lastochkin, from Moscow, Russia, and Garth Rickards, from Mechanicsburg, Pa., are graduating with the team directly from the F1600 Championship Series following a dominant 2014 campaign. Agren, 21, who now lives in St. Petersburg, Fla., clinched the title in style by winning the final race and edging out her teammate, 22-year-old Rickards by a 13-point margin. Lastochkin, 24, now based in Los Angeles, finished a solid sixth in the points chase.
USF2000 is clearly defined as the first official step on the Mazda Road to Indy – an initiative unique to North America that offers scholarships to drivers at every level to assist in progression from the grassroots of the sport, then on through Pro Mazda and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires to the Verizon IndyCar Series.
"These are really exciting times for Team Pelfrey as we further expand our program to encompass the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda with a brand-new team,” said Team Pelfrey’s Nigel Tuckey. “Ayla Agren, Garth Rickards and Nikita Lastochkin are known to us from our relationship in F1600 last year so the continuity factor will be huge. Even though we are fielding rookies only, I feel very confident that their collective experience and considerable talents will allow us to give the established teams a very hard time this year.”
For video announcement and interview with Nigel Tuckey, please see link below: http://youtu.be/2Hq0-KgafPU
The team will take part in its first officially sanctioned USF2000 test later this week at one-day outings at Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, Fla., and Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla., and will make its race debut in the Cooper Tires Winterfest preseason mini-series at NOLA Motorsports Park, near New Orleans, La., on February 20/21. The “regular season” championship will kick off at St. Petersburg, Fla., just a few miles from the team’s base in Palmetto, in conjunction with the Verizon IndyCar Series on March 28/29.
An additional driver announcement is expected in the near future.
WHAT THE DRIVERS SAID:
Nikita Lastochkin (#80 Team Pelfrey/RM Van Diemen-Mazda): “It is a great feeling coming into another year and knowing that the same great team of people are going to be with you. We built a solid foundation in F1600 and now it's a matter of working to improve on it. I am certain
that as much as I am going to give it my all, so will the team and the results should follow.”
Ayla Agren (#81 Team Pelfrey/Energima/Women’s Sports Foundation Van Diemen-Mazda): “I am very excited to be back with Team Pelfrey for the 2015 season. We had a great season last year where we showed that we are a winning team. So by working together for another season I think our relationship and teamwork will grow even further. From a driving point of view, I am really looking forward to adapting to the USF2000 car and tackling the challenges the Mazda Road to Indy will present.”
Garth Rickards (#83 Team Pelfrey/Snap 21 Van Diemen-Mazda): “It literally is a dream come true to be driving in the USF2000 championship. A few years ago I was sitting in the stands watching and now I'm ready to fight for the championship. I'm happy to be moving up with Team Pelfrey and think we have a lot of good momentum from last year. The guys on the team want it just as bad as I do and are like family to me. Nigel and Dale have been nothing but supportive and I was extremely excited when they told me about the program.”
ABOUT TEAM PELFREY: Dale Pelfrey’s race team, based in Palmetto, Fla., is built upon the same principles he used 35 years ago when establishing his business career – hire the best, acquire the best and expect the best in order to achieve the most. After fielding cars in the IndyCar Series from 1998 until 2000, Team Pelfrey was reformed in 2011, winning on its Pro Mazda debut and going on to earn the Team Championship as well as second and third in the drivers’ title-chase with Connor De Phillippi and Nick Andries. Team Pelfrey went one better in 2012, guiding Jack Hawksworth to the Drivers’ Championship and earning a second successive Team Championship. An expansion into the F1600 Championship Series for 2014 saw Ayla Agren, Garth Rickards and Augie Lerch secure the top three positions in the points table.