GP2 Series unveils 11-race season for 2014

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Formula One’s top developmental league, the GP2 Series, will embark on an 11-race schedule next season with new stops at Austria’s Red Bull Ring and Russia’s new street circuit at Sochi Olympic Park. All 11 events will be held as support races on Formula One Grand Prix weekends.

The season will unofficially begin in March with tests at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi (March 11-13, 2014) and the Bahrain International Circuit (March 19-21). The series will return to Bahrain to officially kick off its 2014 campaign on April 4-6, 2014.

“This is in order to keep down the costs, but also to test on F1 circuits where two events will take place, as well as enjoying great weather for testing,” GP2 CEO Bruno Michel explained in a statement. Michel also noted cost as a factor in keeping the schedule at 11 races, as it was this past year.

GP2 will make its first European stop at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya (May 9-11, 2014) and then head to Monaco two weeks after. Austria comes next in June, followed by three races in July at Great Britain’s Silverstone, Germany’s Hockenheim, and Hungary’s Hungaroring.

The series will then end its year with one race per month for the next four months: Spa-Francorchamps in August, Monza in September, the aforementioned Sochi in October, and the season finale at Yas Marina in November.

Malaysia and Singapore, which hosted GP2 events in 2012 and 2013, will not be on the 2014 schedule.

2014 GP2 Series Schedule

Testing
March 11-13 – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE
March 19-21 – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain

Championship
Apr. 4-6 – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain
May 9-11 – Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain
May 22-24 – Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo, Monaco
June 20-22 – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria
July 4-6 – Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone, England
July 18-20 – Hockenheimring, Hockenheim, Germany
July 25-27 – Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary
Aug. 22-24 – Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium
Sept. 5-7 – Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza, Italy
Oct. 10-12 – Sochi International Street Circuit, Sochi, Russia
Nov. 21-23 – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE

MRTI: Barber Motorsports Park Preview

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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After a month break, the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is back in action this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park, with two of its series tacking the 2.38-mile road course in Birmingham, Alabama.

Both the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires have double-headers this weekend, with Pro Mazda returning to Barber after not running there last year.

The season-opening weekend in St. Petersburg was a tale of two completely different stories, with two different winners – Pato O’Ward and Santi Urrutia – and more than a fair bit of chaos for Indy Lights, while Pro Mazda saw Rinus Veekay sweep the weekend.

Talking points for both series heading into Barber are below.

Indy Lights

Santi Urrutia heads to Barber leading the Indy Lights championship on the strength of finishes of second and first in St. Petersburg. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
  • Santi Urrutia displayed great patience at St. Petersburg, finishing second in Race 1 and winning Race 2 after rivals like O’Ward and Colton Herta faltered. However, Barber has not been one of his better tracks, with finishes of 11th, 15th, and 13th in three of his four Indy Lights starts. Yet, he did win Race 2 at Barber 2016, so he has had success there before, and he will be one of the favorites heading into the weekend.
  • Pato O’Ward looks poised to be a title contender in 2018 and will look to avenge a somewhat disappointing outing at St. Petersburg. O’Ward had the speed to sweep the weekend, winning Race 1 handily and dominating Race 2, but a mistake late in the race saw him overshoot Turn 4 and briefly stall before he could rejoin, relegating him to seventh. If O’Ward can show the pace he showed at St. Pete, he might end up being the man to beat.
  • Colton Herta will look to rebound from a St. Pete weekend in which he flashed the speed that caught everyone’s attention last year, but also committed the same mistakes that ultimately prevented him from taking a championship. After finishing third in Race 1, Herta crashed while chasing then leader O’Ward in Race 2. Herta won Race 2 at Barber last year, and getting another win this weekend, along with staying mistake free, would go a long way to erasing his problems from St. Pete.
  • Aaron Telitz is also looking to rebound after a down weekend, as his St. Petersburg weekend lasted all of two corners across both races – he won the Pole for Race 1, but crashed in Race 2 qualifying, and the Belardi Auto Racing team could not repair the car to allow him to race. After the team borrowed a chassis from Carlin for Race 2, Telitz get collected with Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni right off the start, and he crashed again, this time in Turn 2. Telitz finished on the podium at Barber in 2016, the year he won the Pro Mazda championship, and he’ll look for more of the same this weekend.

Pro Mazda

Rinus VeeKay swept the Pro Mazda weekend in St. Petersburg. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
  • Rinus Veekay had a perfect weekend to open the Pro Mazda season. The Juncos Racing driver outdueled Exclusive Autosport’s Parker Thompson for the Race 1 victory, and then ran away with Race 2 to complete the weekend sweep. Veekay was expected to be a title contender after moving up to Pro Mazda in 2018, and if he can repeat his St. Pete performance, then he may leave Barber as the heavy favorite in the championship.
  • Not to be forgotten, Parker Thompson sits second in the Pro Mazda title chase, and looks to avenge losing out to Veekay in St. Pete Race 1, and then fading somewhat to finish fifth in Race 2. Thompson was the only driver to regularly challenge Veekay and Oliver Askew in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season, and he and Exclusive Autosport have adapted nicely to the new Tatuus PM-18. If they can show the same form at Barber, and then finish the job with at least one trip to Victory Lane, then it could set the stage for another titanic Pro Mazda championship fight.
  • Last year’s USF2000 champion Oliver Askew had a quiet weekend in St. Pete, finishing fifth and sixth in the two races. He swept the Barber races in USF2000 last year, and will need a similar performance to vault himself forward from his current place of sixth in the standings.
  • Carlos Cunha and David Malukas head to Barber third and fourth in the championship after solid St. Pete weekends – Cunha had finishes of fourth and third, while Malukas had finishes of seventh and second. Neither was necessarily looked at as a title combatant entering 2018, but repeat performances in Barber could vault them into title contention.

A full weekend schedule, including the Mazda Road to Indy sessions, can be viewed here.

**Note: NBCSN will broadcast Sunday’s Indy Lights race (Race 2 from the weekend) on Monday, April 23.**

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