MRTI: New USF2000 car, the Tatuus USF-17, revealed at PRI Show

Photo: Andersen Promotions
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The first rendering of the new Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda chassis, the new Tatuus USF-17, has been revealed on Thursday at the Performance Racing Industry trade show in Indianapolis.

The new car is above and the full release from Andersen Promotions is below:

Andersen Promotions today revealed designs of the new Tatuus USF-17 chassis during a press conference at the INDYCAR stage on the opening day of the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show. The state-of-the-art race car will serve as the foundation for a rejuvenation of the first two steps on the highly acclaimed Mazda Road to Indy – the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – beginning in 2017.

Tatuus, headquartered in Concorezzo, Italy, has been producing top-quality open-wheel junior formula cars since 1980. Its FIA-approved composite chassis currently form the basis for the popular and successful Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula 4 categories.

The Tatuus USF-17 will replace the tube-frame Van Diemen/Elan chassis which has formed the backbone of USF2000 since its introduction in 1999. It will be mated to the proven Mazda MZ-R engine and Cooper racing tires and augmented by other modern features including a six-speed paddle-shift gearbox, a revised damper package, custom aluminum American Racing wheels, Cosworth data system, LCD steering wheel and ECU, a revised PFC brake package, and IndyCar-specific quick jack and roll hoop attachments.

The prototype car, which will meet all the latest FIA safety requirements, will be unveiled next May, prior to the historic 100th Indianapolis 500, and will undergo a rigorous test program before being released to teams in advance of the 2017 USF2000 season. The cost of the USF-17 chassis – not including engine, wheels and dampers – is $51,400. As an additional cost-benefit to teams and drivers moving up the Mazda Road to Indy, the same chassis will be used as the basis of the new Pro Mazda car which will race for the first time in 2018.

“Although the current USF2000 car has performed well for so many years, it’s time to turn the page and provide our teams and drivers with something even better,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “The Tatuus USF-17 will offer exceptional value and performance, and we are delighted to partner with this great car company to launch the next generation of USF2000 race cars. This car is unmatched in quality, safety and performance for its cost, and we expect it to be well-received by our teams and drivers. With the next generation Pro Mazda race car following this design, the value is further enhanced for teams and drivers. It’s an exciting time for the Mazda Road to Indy.”

In addition to project manager Scot Elkins (USF2000/Pro Mazda race director, founder of TEG Motorsports Consulting and COO of the Motorsports Safety Foundation), key partners in the USF-17 project attending the conference included John Doonan, Director of Mazda Motorsports in North America; Casey Ackerman, Motorsports Activation Manager for Cooper Tires; Darrick Dong, Director of Motorsports for PFC; Rob Kirk, Global Sales Manager of Cosworth; Bruce Hendel, Director of Sales for VP Racing Fuels; Kraig Pechenino, President of Racing Communications; Todd Hayes, Motorsports Sales/New Business Development Manager of American Racing; and Greg Wrzesinski, Vice President of Operations at Carl Haas Automobile Imports Inc.

“We talk a lot about the Mazda Road to Indy being the premier open-wheel ladder system in the world, and the USF-17 chassis will only add to the many benefits for teams and drivers,” said Doonan. “We commend the long-term approach from Dan Andersen and his team as they unveil a race car that will be affordable, fast and safe for ovals and road courses. We can’t wait to see it and hear it in action with Mazda power.”

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.