Road America Saturday MRTI, PWC race notes

Ayla Agren in USF2000. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – There’s seven races combined today between the Mazda Road to Indy and Pirelli World Challenge, with the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires having two races each, then one race apiece for the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and PWC GT/GTA/GT Cup and GTS classes.

Quick reports from each will follow below:

USF2000 RACE 1

Lloyd, Martin, Gabin on all-Australian USF2000 podium. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
Lloyd, Martin, Gabin on all-Australian USF2000 podium. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Anthony Martin of Kalgoorlie, Australia continued his recent run of form in USF2000. The driver of the No. 8 Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing entry won his third race in the last four, after scoring his first series win at the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis weekend, then snatching win from the jaws of teammate Parker Thompson at Lucas Oil Raceway on the oval at the end of May.

Martin then led flag-to-flag in this morning’s 11-lap, 30-minute first of two races today, to lead an all-Australian podium ahead of Jordan Lloyd (No. 21 Pabst Racing) and Luke Gabin (No. 91 JAY Motorsports).

Lloyd and Gabin started fourth and 10th respectively and used opportunistic, well-timed passing maneuvers to move forward in the short race, despite the limited green flag running. There were two yellow flags – one involving Lloyd’s two Pabst teammates, Garth Rickards and Yufeng Luo, on the opening lap – and a later one for another Cape car in team debutante Jordan Cane.

Victor Franzoni was fourth in the No. 9 ArmsUp Motorsports entry with series points leader Parker Thompson fifth in the No. 2 Cape car. Thompson will lose a bit of ground in the points standings.

“It was very difficult with the yellows. This track is about slipstreams and restarts can be very risky,” Martin told NBC Sports after the race. “I was thankful I was able to keep in front and boys behind me.”

Lloyd thanked Pabst Racing driver coach Tonis Kasemets, arguably one of the most experienced drivers ever at Road America, for his guidance and help during the weekend.

“Having him is a bit of a leg up. These guys are based not far from here and Tonis Kasemets has done more laps than anyone else almost. The track knowledge helps,” said Lloyd.

After a nightmare Lucas Oil race and a blown engine in practice, Gabin delivered a performance similar to his strong weekend at the IMS road course – the only track remotely comparable to Road America on the USF2000 schedule given the long straights.

“It was crazy. We started P10 … and it was really hard to work my way up. We didn’t quite have the pace. But it felt like we reinvented the wheel. Blowing an engine was not what we expected – it was heartbreaking – but the JAY crew got everything back together,” Gabin said.

The Pro Mazda 40-minute first race of the weekend is up next.


Telitz flashes the peace sign. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
Telitz flashes the peace sign. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Birchwood, Wis.’ Aaron Telitz scored his second win of the season, first since Round 2 in St. Petersburg, in the No. 82 Rice Lake Weighing Systems car for Team Pelfrey, in a dominant flag-to-flag drive from pole position.

The Wisconsinite ended ahead of a pair of Juncos Racing teammates, Nicolas Dapero and Will Owen, with Dapero ending a season and career-best second place in the No. 31 car.

Pato O’Ward, the erstwhile dominant driver who’d won six of the first seven races this season in the No. 80 Team Pelfrey car, ended off the podium for the first time this year in fourth, with TJ Fischer fifth in his Pro Mazda debut in the No. 81 entry.

Telitz entered the day 55 points behind O’Ward but he’ll make up some good ground as a result of this finish.

It’s a big day for Telitz, who recapped his first race below:

“Yeah it was a good start and my car was great early on,” Telitz told NBC Sports post-race. “I pulled out a big gap which helped. Then car got crazy loose. Hoped no one would catch me. It was just about managing it from there. It will be a big weight off my shoulder.

“Skippy [Skip Barber] here is like Talladega. You can pass back and forth twice down front and back straights. There was great awesome racing in the back today, but luckily, I was out front.”


A jumbled starting order for today’s first of two Pirelli World Challenge GT/GTA/GT Cup races is on tap, with Adderly Fong taking the lone No. 88 Bentley Team Absolute Bentley Continental GT3 to his first career series pole.

Fong’s No. 88 Bentley is the only Bentley entered this weekend with Andrew Palmer still recovering in hospital in Connecticut after his head injury sustained in an accident at Lime Rock Park.

The Hong Kong driver edged the pair of RealTime Racing Acura TLX-GTs, which had a pre-race boost adjustment entering the weekend, but still ended in their best grid positions this year.



I wound up calling the first of two Indy Lights races from Road America this morning on a last-minute pinch hitting role, rather than just sitting in my usual work spot.

On track, Zach Veach dominated en route to his first win of the season and fourth in his career in the No. 5 Belardi Auto Racing Dallara IL-15 Mazda. The win comes in the home state for team owner Brian Belardi.

There was quite a bit of action behind him, ultimately punctuated by a great drive in second from Dean Stoneman in his No. 27 Stellrecht entry for Andretti Autosport.

Stoneman ultimately overcame a five-second post-race time penalty that would be added to his race time for Lap 1 contact with Andre Negrao, and although he finished 2.9841 seconds behind on the road it became 7.9841 seconds with the penalty added.

Not as fortunate was Santiago Urrutia, who also incurred a five-second penalty for contact with another car, and that dropped him from fifth back to ninth.

Felix Serralles completed the podium with Ed Jones, the series points leader, in fourth. Jones unofficially leads Stoneman by 23 points – 204 to 181 – ahead of tomorrow’s race, which airs at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN following the IndyCar race coverage.


Anthony Martin won his second race of the day and has unofficially moved into the USF2000 points lead by one point over Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing teammate Parker Thompson, who finished third.

Sandwiched between them was Victor Franzoni of ArmsUp Motorsports, with Ayla Agren (John Cummiskey Racing, lead image on this post) and Garth Rickards completing the top five. It’s the best results of the year for both drivers, who last year were teammates at Team Pelfrey.


Much the same as the two USF2000 races, the two Pro Mazda races were the same – the driver who won in the morning also won in the afternoon.

Aaron Telitz completed the weekend and Saturday sweep for Team Pelfrey in the No. 82 Rice Lake Weighing Systems entry, dominating from start to finish.

Nico Jamin posted a season and career-best second in Pro Mazda in the No. 2 Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing entry ahead of Will Owen, third for a second straight race for Juncos Racing.


An uneventful first race of the weekend for the Pirelli World Challenge GT/GTA/GT Cup took place this afternoon with the pair of RealTime Racing Acura TLX-GTs dominating the proceedings in an authoritative 1-2 finish.

Ryan Eversley and Peter Cunningham led the way in GT. Eversley won his first PWC race of the year and first since St. Petersburg in 2015.

Additionally, in GTS, Derek DeBoer scored his first career in the series in a TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage.

NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E and Ian James set to race ahead of electric motorsports’ curve

James McLaren Formula E
McLaren Racing

As Formula E enters their ninth season and McLaren Racing is set to compete in last year’s championship winning car, Ian James is passionate about pushing electric motorsports forward at a critical stage as race technology begins surpassing that of the street cars.

Midseason, McLaren acquired the assets of the Mercedes-EQ team as they were already on their way to winning a second consecutive championship. With those assets in place and coming off a successful debut in the Extreme E series, James is set to usher in a new era in electric car racing.

Last week’s announcement that Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast behind the wheel of the NEOM McLaren Formula E team was the last piece of the puzzle.

McLaren’s electric portfolio is building with the Formula E team coming one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour. There were a lot of lessons to learn in that series with growing pains during the first three of five rounds. Rounds 4 and 5 were a completely different matter with the team crossing the finish line first in Chile before being assessed a time penalty.

In the final round in Uruguay, they scored an elusive podium.

“McLaren kicked off the season in Extreme E at the beginning of this year, so our first [electric] race took place Neom, actually out in Saudi,” NEOM McLaren Racing Team Principal James told NBC Sports. “At the time, we were in very early discussions about opportunities with the Formula E team. I actually went out there to meet with Zak [Brown, CEO McLaren Racing] and that was my first taste of Extreme E.

“Since the transition, I joined them in Chile in Atacama Desert, and then Uruguay last weekend. [The second-place finish was] a lovely way to round out the season. The fact that they got that podium. It was very well deserved. It’s a great team and a great series actually. It’s just so very different from anything else. The team’s done a great job in getting set up, and it’s nice now to, we’re trying to use that momentum that we’ve got from Uruguay to get us into next season when it kicks off next year, which will be great. I think we’re mid-March is looking like the first race, so a little bit of time to get things prepped for that.”


James McLaren Formula E
The NEOM Mclaren Racing Formula E team was created through the acquisition of last year’s championship car from Mercedes-EQ. – McLaren Racing

Synergies exist between the single seater and rally series. Lessons learned about battery power and sustainability in the electric SUV carry over so long as one is mindful of keeping focus on the individual needs and nuances of each series.

Especially now that electric racing technology has caught up, and is ready to surpass, the existing technology that has gone into building street cars.

When internal combustion engines gained the upper hand soon after automobiles were invented, racing paced alongside. The pressure of competition pushed the development of their commercial equivalents. The same has not necessarily been true of electric cars. Street cars were not designed to undergo the same stress as racecars – and that vulnerability showed up on the racetrack.

“Formula E has come along a long way,” James said. “I think one of the most notable developments is in the battery technology. In Gen 1, you had the drivers jumping from one car to another car midrace because the battery technology and capacity simply wasn’t where it needed to be to do the full distance. That obviously changed in Gen 2 and we saw a power increase as well to the 250 kilowatts.

“Now going to Gen 3, we have 350 kilowatts in a smaller battery. But that means that we’re relying on the regeneration of energy and for that reason, we’ve got also the opportunity to regenerate on the front axle as well as the rear axle now. So, there’s all sorts of things that are developing in the right direction.

“In terms of throttle response, actually, we’re now in a situation with electric racing and the motors that it’s instantaneous. And one of the advantages of electric over combustion engine is that the torque is instantaneous as well, so that gives you a lot more room to play with.”

No matter the power source, racing has always been about resource management. Drivers and teams select tire strategies they believe produce the fastest elapsed time and fuel conservation comes into play.

On one hand, electric racing is the same, but there is a critical difference. With the battery as both the power source and an integral part of the engine, there are multiple reasons to manage it.

In electric racing, the brain of the car is the software – and that is where James sees the greatest room for advancement.

“As we are working with our drivers and engineers – and start to look at functionality to improve our efficiency and our performance, that’s something we’ll continue to push because that development is open throughout the season,” James said. “That’s going to be our focus going forward and provides enough of a challenge for us to get our teeth into.

“What’s going to be fascinating is as Formula E continues, is to really look at which areas of development on the car are going to be the most relevant and ensuring that we can focus on those together with the manufacturers so we continue and use the series as a platform for technical development that can then feed back into the road car side of things as well.

“At the end of the day, that’s what motorsports always been, a very powerful tool for, and I see Formula E as no exception.”

James McLaren Formula E
Jake Hughes and Rene Rast were chosen for their ability to drive fast and execute the necessary strategy for energy management. – McLaren Racing

Selecting Rast and Hughes as McLaren’s Formula E drivers was not simply because they know how to drive fast. James believes both drivers have the mental aptitude to execute energy management strategies throughout the race and squeeze maximum performance.

“As with many other motorsports, you’ve got a certain amount of energy that you’re able to deploy during the race and the management of that energy is absolutely crucial,” James said. “What we’re seeing typically in electric motorsports now is the hardware side of things. The efficiencies that we’re seeing in the powertrain as a whole, they’re getting up to the sort of 96%, 97%, 98% efficiency, so the gains that you get through that further and further become more marginal.”

With much more room for improvement, software is a different matter. To make the best decisions, the drivers need data, and that is where James believes McLaren Formula E will make their greatest impact.

“And then you really switch that focus to the software and that’s where you’re going to see the most the most improvement and the most gains,” James continued. “It’s then using that software to ensure that you’re deploying the energy in the most efficient manner during race, and thereby giving the driver the most performance. And that’s something which is incredibly complicated, but I find it a fascinating area to work in.

“The benefit of being involved in racing is you can really push the envelope in a way that you can’t do on road cars. And I think that that’s where that value comes in. It means that you accelerate the development a lot quicker. We will get ahead of the curve – and we are getting ahead of the curve now – and that will mean that the electric motorsports remain part of the overall development process.

“The key to that is also making sure that the racing’s exciting and fun for the fans. If we can, we can tick both of those boxes, then it’s got a very bright future ahead of it.”