Photo: Andersen Promotions

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

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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.”

Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

Andretti Autosport James Hinchcliffe
Chris Owens/IndyCar
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James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

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“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”