Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000 Teams Set for Four Days of Running at Homestead
PALMETTO, Fla. – Teams and drivers from all three levels of the acclaimed Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires will converge next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway in South Florida for an official Spring Training test. The four-day outing will comprise over six hours of testing for Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competitors on the 1.5-mile oval on Monday, February 27, followed by two days of running on the 2.21-mile road course for the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, then one final day on the road course for Indy Lights on Thursday, March 2.
The Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires offers scholarships at every level for talented drivers to make their way from the grassroots of the sport to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. A total of 23 of the 33 drivers who qualified for last year’s historic 100th Indianapolis 500 were graduates of one or more of the three open-wheel development series. More than $3.5 million in scholarships and awards are up for grabs during the 2017 season which will commence – in conjunction with the Verizon IndyCar Series – on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 10-12.
Aussie Martin Seeks Back-to-Back MRTI Crowns
Pro Mazda is in the midst of a transition with a brand-new car, the Tatuus PM-18, to be introduced next year to the middle step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires development ladder. Fields are expected to remain fairly slim, although a great deal is at stake with the champion’s Mazda Scholarship increased in size to $790,300 to assist in the graduation to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires in 2018, and additional entries are expected for the season-opener.
One of the hot favorites for honors will be reigning USF2000 champion Anthony Martin, 22, from Perth, Australia, who is stepping up and will carry the traditional Mazda Scholarship Soul Red color scheme.
“Winning the USF2000 championship meant everything, not only for me but my family, sponsors and friends that have been with me from the start,” said Martin. “Knowing that I would be racing in Pro Mazda this year was such a relief and I am really looking forward to this transition in my career.”
Martin now seeks to follow in the footsteps of Matthew Brabham, who claimed back-to-back Mazda Scholarships in USF2000 and Pro Mazda in 2012 and 2013.
“The Mazda Road to Indy is like no other development program,” Martin continued. “It was the sole reason I moved halfway around the world from Australia and it continues to be. To me, the Mazda Road to Indy is one big family – something that motorsport misses everywhere else. What the Mazda Road to Indy family has done with all of the sponsors is incredible and it gives motivation for drivers to come from all around the world and compete against the best.”
Among Martin’s rivals will be Californian TJ Fischer, who contested a partial campaign with Team Pelfrey in 2016 and will return for a concerted attack on the championship with the organization that has won the past two Pro Mazda crowns with Santi Urrutia and Aaron Telitz. Los Angeles-based Russian and USF2000 veteran Nikita Lastochkin also will step up with Team Pelfrey alongside teenaged Brazilian F3 racer Carlos Cunha.
World Speed Motorsports also will be back with a two-car team for veteran Bobby Eberle and up-and-comer Sting Ray Robb. Eberle, 48, from Houston, Texas, is a four-time National Class champion who fully intends to challenge for overall honors this year – and is aimed at becoming the oldest rookie to compete in the Indianapolis 500 – while Robb, from Boise, Idaho, has packed a great deal of racing (and winning) experience into his 15 years after competing in karts, Corvettes, paved and dirt Modified cars, NASCAR stock cars and a partial campaign in the West Coast-based Formula Car Challenge in 2016.
Live timing of all sessions will be available on the respective series websites, indylights.com, promazda.com and usf2000.com, as well as on indycar.com and the Road To Indy TV App.