MRTI: Andersen announces USF2000, Pro Mazda set for car shakeup in 2017, 2018

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One of the big talking points about the Mazda Road to Indy this season has been the introduction of the new Dallara IL15-Mazda to the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series.

Now, within the next few years, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda are set for their own car shakeup.

Andersen Promotions, the operating entity for the entire Mazda Road to Indy, has announced Monday that USF2000 will get a new car in 2017 and Pro Mazda in 2018.

What that will be exactly is to be determined, but RFPs are out and the series will go from there.

The full release is below:

The first two levels of the highly successful Mazda Road to Indy – the unique driver development program providing a clear, scholarship-funded path for drivers to follow toward the pinnacle of the sport – are set for a revitalization as Andersen Promotions today announced plans to introduce a new chassis in each series.

Request for Proposals (RFP) have been circulated to constructors for a new car in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda in 2017 and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires in 2018. Andersen Promotions debuted the track record-shattering Dallara IL-15 in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competition, the third step on the ladder system, to rave reviews this season.

The new carbon composite chassis will be a “common chassis” between USF2000 and Pro Mazda with specific elements defining both visual and performance differences in the two series including variations in horsepower and aerodynamics. It will be designed to the latest FIA specifications with added safety enhancements to accommodate U.S. road, street and oval circuits and a more modern appearance, and will share many of the current F4 specifications but with improved performance designs and increased horsepower.

The new chassis will be powered by a 2.0-liter Mazda MZR engine producing approximately 170 horsepower in USF2000 and 270 horsepower in Pro Mazda. All chassis will run on Cooper tires. Other applicable Mazda Road to Indy partner components will also be used. There will be tightly controlled car and spare costs. Current USF2000 cars will still be eligible for the recently announced “B Class” in 2017.

“The current USF2000 race car has served us very well for a long time and is still a terrific training vehicle, but the time has come to provide our teams and drivers with more current technology and upgraded safety,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “This new car will take many features from the worldwide F4 car, but will be built with important safety enhancements, higher performance and more driver tools. We believe it will be an even better trainer for the future stars of the Verizon IndyCar Series.

“The Pro Mazda version, which will roll out a year later, will offer more horsepower and other aero improvements to effect the higher level of training that defines Pro Mazda as the next step in the Mazda Road to Indy. We have been thinking about producing new chassis for quite some time and we feel the time is right. This is a game changer and we are excited to announce these plans.”

The new USF2000 chassis will be unveiled at the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 next May with prototype testing expected to begin in June. Car deliveries will take place in the fall and a similar schedule will follow for Pro Mazda.

“The Mazda Road to Indy has a firm foundation in driver development and has been gaining more notoriety around the globe,” said John Doonan, Director of Mazda Motorsports in North America. “This future chassis and powertrain strategy that Dan and his team at Andersen Promotions have now put in place further solidifies this program and should get even more attention by young talent. Mazda is all about bringing the latest technology to the marketplace in our road cars. These new chassis platforms will be exactly that for the open-wheel stars of the future. We could not be more proud of our place in the Mazda Road to Indy and our partnership with Andersen Promotions.”

An announcement regarding the new USF2000/Pro Mazda chassis constructor will be made in October.

“This is great news for the Mazda Road to Indy Series as the current USF2000 and Pro Mazda cars have served the drivers and teams well,” said Chris Pantani, Director of Motorsports for Cooper Tires. “However, these new platforms will better prepare the drivers for the demands and expectations of progressing in the Mazda Road to Indy and eventually driving the new Indy Lights Dallara IL-15 car. These changes continue to solidify everyone’s expectations that the Mazda Road to Indy is the one true ladder system in open-wheel racing; there is no substitution.”

The ultra-competitive 2015 Mazda Road to Indy season will wrap up at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on September 10-13 with title-deciding, double-header rounds remaining for all three series. Over $2.3M in scholarships and awards are on offer including a scholarship package to the Indy Lights champion that features three Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2016 including the Indianapolis 500.

Andretti ‘getting closer’ to re-signing Alexander Rossi in IndyCar

INDYCAR Photo by Joe Skibinski
INDYCAR Photo by Joe Skibinski
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TORONTO – Team owner Michael Andretti told NBCSports.com that contract negotiations with both Alexander Rossi and Honda Performance Development are progressing positively with hopes of reaching a conclusion “within the next week or two.”

Andretti spoke to NBCSports.com and to NBCN’s Robin Miller Sunday at the Honda Indy Toronto.

“I think things are getting there,” Andretti said. “We’re not there yet, but we’re close. I can’t comment, but I think things are going in the right direction.

“Honda has been great. They’ve been really good to work with. I’m hoping we can put something together there, too. We’ve been part of Honda for so long. I think we are getting real close there.

“I’m hoping to have this resolved in the next week or two.”

Rossi, who is in the final year of his contract, finished third in the race, one position ahead of championship rival Josef Newgarden of Team Penske.

That leaves Rossi just four points behind Newgarden heading into Saturday night’s race at Iowa Speedway.

Rossi’s agent is his father, Pieter.

NBCSports.com spoke to Pieter Rossi before the race, and he also expressed optimism that a deal will be reached soon for his son as the star driver, 27, enters the prime years of his career.

Andretti had separate meetings with Honda Performance Development officials and with Pieter Rossi in the hours leading up to Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto.