Donison Scores First Career USF2000 Podium
 May 19, 2017| 
  • Team News
Solid success as teen becomes first Indian driver to podium in the Mazda Road to Indy

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Jumping into the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is a daunting challenge for any young driver, as it represents the first official step towards a career in the Verizon IndyCar Series. The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda is the first rung of the official ladder system, and Bangalore, India’s Ricky Donison has battled through the ups and downs of motorsports in the first two events of the year in Florida and Alabama. These character-building weekends have already paid off as Donison turned in his best performances thus far when he and his Cape Motorsports crew tacked the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway last weekend (May 11-13). Ricky showed his quickest pace of the year, qualifying well and then finishing on the podium in third position in the first race of the doubleheader. He then backed up that impressive result with a stellar recovery after been taken out on the opening lap of race two, fighting his way forward from last to eighth.

“I am very pleased with the way the weekend went,” offered Donison, who is a rookie in the USF2000 series. “Coming into it, I didn’t know what do expect as the previous round at Barber did not go my way at all, so I was quite nervous. After the first session, I was quite confident with the track, considering I had never been there before and most of my competitors had tested there previously. I was up to pace in the third session of practice and from that moment onwards I knew that I had the pace to put the car in the top-five. Q1 went extremely well and I ended up qualifying third overall, which I was extremely pleased with. My teammate managed to qualify on the pole position for the third time this year. Q2 also went really well qualifying just outside the top-three, putting me fourth overall.”

Donison fully leveraged his best qualifying effort of the year with a third for Race 1, taking up a positon in the top-five after a restart for a lap one wreck that quickly brought out a full course caution. Ricky ran in fourth for the entire race, holding his position, and he would be advanced to third and onto the podium when Kaylen Frederick’s Team Pelfrey entry was disqualified in post-race tech.

“I knew that I had put the car in a good position, but it’s not always about where you qualify because the racing is what gives you points,” Donison continued, discussing the opening event of the doubleheader. “I was quite nervous going into the first race, but I managed to get a good start, kept a cool head and finished third with a lot of pressure from the guys behind me. I was extremely happy with the podium and was not expecting to finish on the podium this early in the season, so being the first-ever Indian driver to finish on the podium in the USF2000 series was an achievement on its own.”

After qualifying fourth for Race 2, Donison launched from the outside of the second row, but his event strategy changed quickly when Calvin Ming got into the back of him on the opening lap in the Turn One-Two complex, spinning him off the track. Ricky was forced to drop to the tail of the field for the ensuing yellow, and he used the remainder of the race to claw his way forward, gaining valuable experience with every overtaking attempt. He was able to get to ninth in the waning stages of the race, but last lap contact between two of the drivers ahead of him allowed him to slip by to take eighth.   

“Going into the second race, I was confident to get another podium, however, I was cautious going into Turn One and ended up spinning my car around because of a collision with another driver,” Donison explained. “Luckily, not much damage was done to the car, so I managed to get the car going and I made a recovery from last to eighth place, which I was very happy with.

“I’m also really happy that my team is leading the championship standings after this round and I couldn’t thank everyone from Cape Motorsports enough for giving me the best car on the grid and I’m really looking forward to the next race in Road America.”

Immediately following the Indy event, Donison had the opportunity to test at nearby Lucas Oil Raceway, taking the 5/8-mile banked oval for a new experience. This crucial outing provided Ricky with his first laps on an oval, all in preparation for the single speedway race on the USF2000 schedule, which takes place at Iowa Speedway on July 8-9.

Ricky will now look forward to the next event on the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda calendar, which is the iconic 4-mile long Road America facility in Elkhart Lake, Wis., on June 23-25.
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