Mazda Road to Indy Season Kicks Off with Spring Training
 February 22, 2018| 
  • Series News
USF Homestead Preview 2018

PALMETTO, Fla. – A new season of competition in the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is almost set to commence. All three rungs on the world’s premier open-wheel development ladder – the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires – will be in action beginning Friday, February 23, for the annual Spring Training open test which will take place over four days at Homestead-Miami Speedway in South Florida.

At least 15 different nationalities are expected to be represented, highlighting the credibility of a program which offers opportunities for drivers to progress from the grassroots to the pinnacle of the sport in North America – with Mazda Scholarships at every level.

Spring Training will represent the first time a full field of the exciting new Tatuus PM-18 Pro Mazda cars will be on track at the same time. It will also provide one final chance to lay down a marker in advance of the opening races of the 2018 campaign on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., in conjunction with the Verizon IndyCar Series, on March 9-11.

Ten Nations Represented in USF2000
A stellar field of talented youngsters from at least 10 different countries is seeking to follow in the footsteps of Askew, who took USF2000 by storm in 2017 to claim the $325,000 Mazda Scholarship and graduate into Pro Mazda for this year. Prime among them will be Keith Donegan, from Dublin, Ireland, who was awarded the second annual $200,000 Mazda Scholarship following a hard-fought shootout last December at the Bob Bondurant Racing School in Arizona.

Donegan, who earned his opportunity to contest the shootout during a breakthrough season in the British Formula Ford 1600 Championship, which included a second-place finish in the famed Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch, will carry the distinctive Soul Red colors on his ArmsUp Motorsports Tatuus-Mazda USF-17. Donegan will be joined at the Wisconsin-based team by long-time karting star Sabre Cook, from Grand Junction, Colo., at the test.

“I know it will be tough to win the championship in my first year racing over here but I’ve a great team around me and a lot of people who believe in me so that always helps,” says Donegan. “I’m giving myself every opportunity to win so I’ll keep doing what I do and pushing and see what happens.”

The depth of talent Donegan will face is impressive. Wisconsin-based Pabst Racing, which claimed its first Team Championship in 2017 and guided VeeKay to second in the drivers’ standings, will return with a four-car attack comprising USF2000 veterans Kaylen Frederick, from Potomac, Md., Brazilian Lucas Kohl and Guyanan Calvin Ming, plus 16-year-old Swedish karting grad Rasmus Lindh.

DEForce Racing, too, has plenty of experience in its camp with returning drivers Kory Enders, from Warwick, N.Y., and Colin Kaminsky, from Homer Glen, Ill., alongside Mexican rookie Jose Sierra.

Darren Keane, from Deerfield Beach, Fla., also has high expectations as he returns to Newman Wachs Racing after a promising partial campaign in 2017. Keane, who set the pace in the traditional Chris Griffis Memorial Test at Indianapolis last fall, will be joined by English-born Singapore resident Oscar DeLuzuriaga and F4 graduate Max Piechel, from Edina, Minn.

Team Pelfrey also will be strongly represented. Bruna Tomaselli, from Brazil, is keen to continue her good progress in 2017, alongside rookies Kyle Dupell, from Portland, Ore., who stood out in the karting ranks, and South African Julian Van der Watt, who dominated his nation’s Formula 1600 Championship last year and will be making his North American debut.

BN Racing, which burst onto the scene last year with rookie David Malukas, returns with another rookie, Russell McDonough IV, from Arkansas, and F1600 race winner Zach Holden, from Greenfield, Ind., while Exclusive Autosport, another standout debutant team in 2017, will field at least two cars for veteran Canadian Jayson Clunie and young Mexican Manuel Cabrera, who earned a ticket to last year’s MRTI Shootout by virtue of winning the Formula Panam crown.

In addition, Mathias Soler-Obel, from Bogota, Colombia, will step up from F4 with the brand-new family-run SOL.O Racing team.

And then there’s St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Cape Motorsports, which is chasing a remarkable eighth consecutive USF2000 championship. After originally announcing their intention to concentrate on Pro Mazda with Askew, brothers Dominic and Nicholas Cape confirmed yesterday that they will continue in USF2000 with another rising Florida star, Kyle Kirkwood, who dominated last year’s U.S. Formula 4 Championship with the Cape team.

“I am extremely excited for this year,” says Kirkwood. “Yes, it will be all new to me but it will be the same for most of the drivers, except a select few. If anything I have an advantage with the relationship already built with Cape Motorsports.”

Spring Training will begin on Friday, February 23, with an all-day test for Indy Lights on Homestead-Miami’s 1.5-mile oval, followed by two days of running for Pro Mazda and USF2000 over the weekend on the 2.21-mile road course and then a final day on the road course for Indy Lights on Monday, February 26. Live timing and scoring for all sessions will be available on the respective series’ websites, indylights.com, promazda.com and usf2000.com, on racecontrol.indycar.com as well as the Mazda Road to Indy TV App.

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