MRTI: Big test ahead at Barber for Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, USF2000

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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All three Mazda Road to Indy series will be in action in the coming days for its winter warm-up Spring Training Test, as the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda will all be together for the first time in 2016.

The test at Barber Motorsports Park supplants the Cooper Tires Winterfest as the traditional offseason gathering, and will be the best and last opportunity for teams and drivers in all three series to prep ahead of the St. Petersburg season-opening weekend, March 11-13.

In total, nearly 50 up-and-coming race car drivers representing no fewer than 18 nations will converge this week at Barber, in Birmingham, Ala. Indy Lights will be out on Saturday, March 5, with Pro Mazda and USF2000 splitting time Sunday and Monday, March 6-7.

The same 16 drivers that tested at Phoenix International Raceway last week will be in Birmingham for Indy Lights this week. The full preview from the series is linked here.

Pro Mazda and USF2000 test as series for the first time since the Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy test at Circuit of The Americas in November.

The upside of the increased Indy Lights field has the unintended consequence of having a negative effect on Pro Mazda, with only 10 cars set to test this week.

With timing & scoring available, it will be interesting to see who emerges ahead in the inter-team battles at Juncos Racing, Team Pelfrey and Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, who field eight of the 10 cars between them.

Juncos features two series returnees in Garett Grist and Will Owen, and Pelfrey has Weiron Tan returning as well. The remaining five drivers – Jake Parsons and Nicolas Dapero of Juncos, Aaron Telitz at Pelfrey and Nico Jamin and Jake Eidson at Cape – are all intriguing rookie prospects.

By contrast, USF2000 moves from the mid-teens in 2015 to 22 cars for this first test. Eight returning drivers from 2015 are among those 22, with Cape’s trio of Parker Thompson, Nikita Lastochkin and Anthony Martin among the headliners. Pabst Racing, also with three drivers, could impress with Jordan Lloyd, Garth Rickards and Yufeng Luo. There’s enough intriguing rookies as well.

Also of note in the last couple days, Replay X D announced it has continued as Official Camera of the Mazda Road to Indy. More information on that is here.

All entry lists are below.

ENTRY LIST: Indy Lights
ENTRY LIST: Pro Mazda
ENTRY LIST: USF2000