Mazda Road to Indy Cooper Tires Winterfest gets going this week

Leave a comment

The North American open-wheel race season gets going this week, with the three Mazda Road to Indy championships participating in the Cooper Tires Winterfest two-track event.

The Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000 championships will be at NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21-22, before shifting to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. next Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 25-26.

For Indy Lights, it’s four days of preseason testing. Meanwhile the other two series will participate in races. Pro Mazda will have four races, with two apiece at each track, and USF2000 will have six races, with two triple headers.

USF2000 and Pro Mazda each will start out with a practice session and a qualifying session on Day 1, followed by one race later in the afternoon. Day 2 at each track will comprise two practice sessions and one race for Pro Mazda and one practice plus two additional races for USF2000.

Live timing will be available on respective series websites: www.indylights.comwww.promazdachampionship.com and www.usf2000.com.

Some quick news and notes on the entry lists, which are slightly different from those at the Chris Griffis Memorial test this winter:

INDY LIGHTS

  • Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has four cars entered, with series veteran Juan Pablo Garcia joining in one of the cars. The No. 8, currently listed as a TBA, has had ex-GP2 driver Luiz Razia testing this winter.
  • Andretti Autosport has the other TBA of the 12 cars, with its third car not listing anyone. Italian Vittorio Ghirelli tested in that car earlier this winter.

PRO MAZDA

  • Team Pelfrey adds a third car for Brandon Newey, a USF2000 competitor in 2013 and son of Bryan Herta Autosport team co-owner Steve Newey.

USF2000

  • Danilo Estrela, formerly of Belardi Auto Racing, makes his official debut with Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, as second driver alongside Jake Eidson at the three-time defending championship-winning team.
  • Afterburner Autosport’s fourth car is the only “TBA” listed of the 20 cars entered.

ENTRY LISTS

INDY LIGHTS (12)
Team Moore Racing: 2 Zack Meyer (CAN)
Belardi Auto Racing: 4 Alexandre Baron (FRA), 5 Gabby Chaves (COL)
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports: 8 TBA, 10 Juan Pablo Garcia (MEX),
42 Jack Harvey (GBR), 77 Juan Piedrahita (COL)
Fan Force United: 24 Scott Anderson (USA)
Andretti Autosport: 26 Zach Veach (USA), 27 TBA,
83 Matthew Brabham (USA)
BHA/Jeffrey Mark Motorsport: 28 Lloyd Read (WAL)

PRO MAZDA (16)
Cape Motorsports w/WTR: 2 Neil Alberico (USA), 3 Scott Hargrove (CAN)
Juncos Racing: 5 Jose Gutierrez (MEX), 6 Julia Ballario (ARG),
7 Spencer Pigot (USA), 18 Kyle Kaiser (USA)
World Speed Motorsports: 13 Bobby Eberle (USA), 16 Michele Bumgarner (PHI)
Andretti Autosport: 27 Garett Grist (CAN), 28 Shelby Blackstock (USA)
M1 Racing: 37 Jay Horak (USA)
JDC Motorsports: 54 Michael Johnson (USA), 91 Kyle Connery (USA)
Team Pelfrey: 80 Dalton Kellett (CAN), 81 Pipo Derani (BRZ),
82 Brandon Newey (USA)

USF2000 (20)
Cape Motorsports w/WTR: 2 Jake Eidson (USA), 3 Danilo Estrela (BRZ)
Belardi Auto Racing: 4 Daniel Burkett (CAN), 14 Florian Latorre (FRA),
41 Nico Jamin (FRA), 44 Michael Epps (GBR)
Team E Racing: 7 R.C. Enerson (USA)
Afterburner Autosport: 11 TBA, 15 Gustavo Myasava (BRZ),
17 Victor Franzoni (BRZ), 18 Jeroen Slaghekke (NED)
M2 Autosport: 13 Juan Carlos Maldonado (COL), 79 Santiago Lozano (COL)
Pabst Racing Services: 23 Will Owen (USA), 77 Austin Cindric (USA)
ArmsUp Motorsports: 24 Peter Portante (USA), 51 Aaron Telitz (USA)
JDC Motorsports: 93 Scott Andrews (AUS), 97 Clark Toppe (USA)
JAY Motorsports: 96 Henrik Furuseth (NOR)

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
Leave a comment

Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

Follow @KyleMLavigne