Photo: Andersen Promotions

Tatuus named new car chassis partner for new USF2000, Pro Mazda car

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A new chassis provider has been selected for the first two rungs on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder. See the below release for more:

Andersen Promotions today announced that Tatuus has been chosen to design and manufacture the next generation of chassis for the first two levels of the Mazda Road to Indy – the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. The new Tatuus USF-17 and Tatuus PM-18 chassis will make their competition debut in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

Headquartered in Concorezzo, Italy, Tatuus has been designing and manufacturing race-winning cars since 1980. The company, managed by Gianfranco De Bellis and Artico Sandonà, has produced more than 1,700 chassis in the past 15 years which have competed on a worldwide stage. Tatuus are leaders in the production of the FIA F4 race car as well as the Formula Renault 2.0 chassis amongst others.

“Since we first met almost 20 years ago, I have known Gianfranco De Bellis and the Tatuus brand of cars and have the highest respect for their product and performance,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “To enter into this new venture with them as partners is exciting and I know they will deliver a very high quality, safe and fast race car – a car that career-minded drivers from around the world will see as a real step up from other open-wheel series cars. The Mazda Road to Indy trains drivers well, and this new race car will only enhance that training for the future.”

The Request for Proposals (RFP) and selection process was led by motorsports veteran Scot Elkins, race director for the USF2000 and Pro Mazda series as well as the founder of TEG Motorsports Consulting and COO of the Motorsports Safety Foundation.

“Gianfranco and the entire Tatuus team really went above and beyond in the RFP process to earn this bid,” said Elkins. “The attention to detail in their proposal and easy acceptance of existing Andersen Promotions’ partners really give us high expectations for these cars and we are ecstatic to have them as partners for many years to come.”

The Tatuus USF-17 is a significant technology leap over the current Van Diemen USF2000 chassis. The USF-17 is a full carbon monocoque chassis built to the latest FIA F3 test specifications utilizing the current Mazda MZR 2.0-liter naturally aspirated engine with additional safety features to meet the specific needs of racing in the United States. These features include full Zylon side intrusion panels and reinforced bulkheads to strengthen the chassis for racing on oval circuits. The USF-17 will also feature other upgrades such as a six-speed paddle shift gearbox, four-way adjustable dampers, specific design aluminum American Racing wheels, Cosworth data system, LCD steering wheel and ECU, four piston caliper PFC brakes and IndyCar-specific quick jack and roll hoop attachments.

Uniquely, the PM-18 will use the USF-17 as the base car to help control the operational costs for teams who wish to move up. The PM-18 adds more power over the USF-17 from a Mazda SKYACTIV engine, more sophisticated aerodynamics with a revised underbody and diffuser, a three-element rear wing and a front wing with adjustable composite wing flaps. The PM-18 also adds a higher level Cosworth data system to help train the next level of drivers and engineers in the Mazda Road to Indy.

“All of us at Mazda will be thrilled to see and hear the next generation USF2000 and Pro Mazda cars,” said John Doonan, director of Mazda Motorsports in North America. “As it has been from the start, our primary goal with the Mazda Road to Indy has been to train drivers and see their skills develop through all the steps of the program – all the way to the Indy 500. These next generation cars provide all of the technology, safety and reliable Mazda powerplants that allows young talent to focus on their driving. The Mazda brand is all about driving and the joy that comes from driving a well-engineered car. I am confident there will be many happy and smiling drivers behind the wheel of these new machines.”

The new USF2000 chassis will be unveiled at the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 next May. Prototype testing is expected to begin in June with car deliveries taking place in the fall. A similar schedule will follow for Pro Mazda.

“With the recent launch of the new IL-15 Indy Lights cars, Dan Andersen has replicated his model for success with these two new cars,” stated Chris Pantani, Cooper Tires’ Director of Motorsports. “Cooper Tire has been grateful to be part of the driver development since the inception of the Road to Indy program. Now, Dan has taken the vehicle development to the next level with state-of-the-art cars for the next two rungs of the Road to Indy, solidifying its place as the one true path to Indianapolis.”

Renderings of the new USF-17 and PM-18 will be unveiled in the coming weeks.

“All of us at Tatuus are very happy and very motivated to have been chosen as partners by Dan Andersen and his team at Andersen Promotions to develop the new Pro Mazda and USF2000 cars,” said Gianfranco De Bellis, CEO of Tatuus. “Dan and I first collaborated back in the late ‘90s, our company’s first experience in the United States, and I have fantastic memories. We will work very hard to offer all of the teams a great product. This is a tremendous opportunity for us in a country with a deep history in motorsports and we are very honored.

Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.