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

Road America Saturday MRTI, PWC race notes

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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.

PRO MAZDA RACE 1

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.”

PIRELLI WORLD CHALLENGE QUALIFYING

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.

 

INDY LIGHTS RACE ONE

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.

USF2000 RACE TWO

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.

PRO MAZDA RACE TWO

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.

PIRELLI WORLD CHALLENGE

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.

Three in position to capture World Rally Championship title at Rally Australia

Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Defending champion Sebastien Ogier goes into this weekend’s Rally Australia with a chance to clinch his sixth World Rally Championship in a row. Thierry Neuville, a runner-up four times but never a champion, hopes to change the world order.

Neuville led the series for much of the season but Ogier’s win in Britain and a second place in Spain has given the Frenchman 204 points, three ahead of Neuville, heading into the final rally of the championship.

“We are not the best friends but we are rivals and respect each other for our performances,” Neuville said Wednesday. “I’ve been second many times in the championship now, we are so close to the main goal.”

“If we need to take more risks because we need to pass Sebastien we’re going to try,” the Belgian driver added, “we’ll take the maximum risks.”

Ogier says the feeling is mutual when it comes to his main rival.

“We are different, definitely, but most important we’re in a great fight together and respect each other for that,” Ogier said. “It’s about trying to beat each other and do it with respect.”

Ott Tanak of Estonia sits 23 points behind and with 30 points for a win in Australia, and other results going his way, he could also capture the world title.

Ogier will be hoping for some Friday morning rain to settle the dust and gravel before he sets off first on what will be more than 300 kilometers (180 miles) of timed racing through forests on the New South Wales state’s north coast, about 530 kilometers (325 miles) north of Sydney.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports