The new Tatuus USF-17 chassis was revealed Friday morning on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Pagoda Plaza, and she’s a beauty.
The car is the second new car on the Mazda Road to Indy to be revealed at IMS, following the launch of the Dallara IL-15 Mazda in May, 2014.
The new USF-17 chassis debuts in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda series next year.
A number of speakers were present at the announcement, including Dan Andersen, Mazda’s John Doonan, project manager Scot Elkins, INDYCAR’s Mark Miles, Gianfranco De Bellis of Tatuus and others. Chris Pantani of Cooper Tires and a host of other key stakeholders were there during the announcement.
Here’s a bit more info following the car’s launch:
Dan Andersen told TSO that the testing of the prototype begins almost immediately with trips to the National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park, Barber Motorsports Park, Road America (day after Verizon IndyCar Series weekend) and at the Lucas Oil Raceway Oval.
Doing the test driving will be Joel Miller and Spencer Pigot.
Miller is currently the Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda’s driver coach/steward and also a Mazda Motorsports factory driver, where he is one of four regular drivers of the Mazda Prototype in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
A mechanical engineering degree from the University of California Riverside combines perfectly with the 28 year-olds recent experience helping with the development of the Mazda prototype program.
Pigot, the reigning Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire champion, will be taking part in his first Indianapolis 500 this weekend.
Tatuus constructs an F4 and F3 car, and while the new USF2000 and Pro Mazda cars will share some similarities with those cars, they could not come “straight off the shelf.”
The USF-17 will have a superior PFC F3 brakes, a better data system and increased safety enhancements. Jeff Horton, INDYCAR’s director of engineering, has been working with USF-17 project manager on all of the safety upgrades. Those upgrades include a double bulkhead, side intrusion panels and an approved INDYCAR head surround.
Orders for the new car are very strong, with the first delivery of 15 that will be arriving in December, being long sold out, and the second container arriving in December well on the way to being sold out. TSO has also learned that a significant number of the orders are from teams not already competing in the Mazda Road To Indy.
TSO also had a change to ask Tatuus principal Gianfranco De Bellis a couple of questions about this new American adventure.
1) I know that you have produced 1,700+ junior formula chassis over the last 15 years. Do you attribute your success to concentrating on building the best junior open wheel car that you can, instead of trying to move up categories?
“We always had a great success in the entry level category, I believe that we have always approached the project to try to make quality cars upper to requests. We believe that this can now also be brought to higher Championship, we are confident that we now have a a great technical office ready and prepared to make successful cars in higher categories.”
2) What has it been like working with an American based sanctioning body? Are the expectations similar to what you’ve found in Europe and Asia?
“For us the opportunity to these two new American projects is very important, we have set up immediately a good contact and technical exchange with Scot, from the very beginning our goal was to repay the trust of Dan and making a great car, we wish that the Americans teams and drivers will be happy about this change.”
Before today’s Cooper Tires Freedom 90 and Mazda Freedom 75, both the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda held test and practice sessions Thursday at Lucas Oil Raceway.
Rain interrupted proceedings at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and it was no surprise that just west of the mecca that is IMS, rain stopped play at the short track that has a lovely high school-size feel to it in Clermont.
In the Pro Mazda evening practice session, Pato O’Ward topped the times once more. The young Mexican edged Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing’s Nico Jamin, in easily the USF2000 champion’s best session of the season. O’Ward’s teammate, Aaron Telitz, clocked in only sixth.
Telitz ran only 40 laps, the fewest, while O’Ward banked 87 laps. The eight cars entered still turned more than 500 laps.
In a humorous Pro Mazda note, we’re not sure if the man whose Andersen Promotions organization runs and operates the Mazda Road to Indy – Dan Andersen – has ever considered running for political office. But judging by this hat he rocked on Thursday in a tweet posted by Anders Krohn, we wouldn’t put it past him.
— Anders Krohn (@AndersKrohn) May 26, 2016
Speeds from Thursday are below:
In the USF2000 session, Parker Thompson went out early, set the eventual session flier, and enjoyed watching as everyone else shot and missed it.
The 18-year-old Canadian ran a best lap of 111.198 mph and only competed seven laps in the session. Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing teammate Anthony Martin was second, with his Australian countryman Jordan Lloyd of Pabst Racing in third.
Only 13 of the 14 cars entered took times in the official practice, with the third Cape car, Nikita Lastochkin, not running in that session. Lastochkin did run 50 laps in a morning test session.
There were 890 laps completed in the USF2000 practice. Beyond Thompson’s seven laps only, the remaining drivers completed between 57 and 96 laps in the session – Victor Franzoni of ArmsUp Motorsports posted the 96 laps.
Speeds are below:
Next up for both series is qualifying. USF2000 is out from 4 to 4:25 p.m, and Pro Mazda is out from 4:30 to 4:55 p.m.
Meanwhile first up today is the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Freedom 100 from IMS. Coverage is at noon ET on NBCSN with estimated green flag time of 12:30 p.m. ET.