AUSSIE! AUSSIE! AUSSIE!
Cape Motorsports with /WTR sophomore pilot Anthony Martin survived two restarts while being pressured by his sophomore Australian countrymen Jordan Lloyd and Luke Gabin to score his third USF2000 win in the last four races.
The 21 year-old winner began the race 26 points behind his fellow sophomore Cape Motorsports with /WTR teammate Parker Thompson, and with the clean sweep of the bonus points (pole, most laps led, fastest lap) he was able to score a maximum of 33 points and cut Thompson’s championship lead to only 10 points going into this afternoon’s race.
Thompson, a native of Red Deer, Alberta, ended up in fifth place, just behind Victor Franzoni, who scored his fourth consecutive top five for the Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin based ArmsUp Motorsports.
If they weren’t already awake, the 800+ campsites at Road America were treated to an alarm clock of 24 buzzing Mazda MZR engines as the first Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda races of the weekend took the green flag promptly at 8:05am.
The 24 drivers were able to get through the first five turns cleanly, but Pabst Racing teammates Garth Rickards and Yufeng Luo got together in Turn 6 to bring out a first lap yellow flag.
Before the yellow flag flew, Thompson was able to get around Franzoni for the second position in Turn 5.
The biggest first lap mover was Dakota Dickerson who broke a half-shaft in qualifying and started Racee #1 at the tail-end of the field. The 20 year-old was able to move up 10 spots to end the first lap in 13th. The pilot of the Mazda sponsored Soul Red No. 18 entered by Afterburner Autosport ended up gaining one more spot to finish the race in 12th.
The top 10 after the first lap was: Martin, Thompson, Franzoni, Lloyd, Cane, Gabin, Agren, Kohl, Lastochkin, and Das.
The track went back green on Lap 3 and second place Thompson and third place Franzoni went at it from Turn 1 through Turn 11, even going side-by-side through “The Kink.” The two drivers had issues in Canada Corner and ended the second lap in fourth (Thompson) and sixth (Franzoni).
The fighting between the top two allowed Lloyd to move into third and Gabin, who started in 10th, joined his fellow Australian countrymen in the top 3.
The top 10 at the halfway mark of the 30 minute race were: Martin, Lloyd, Gabin, Thompson, Franzoni, Nikita Lastochkin (Cape Motorsports with /WTR), Lucas Kohl (John Cummiskey Racing), Ayla Agren (John Cummiskey Racing), Cameron Das (JAY Motorsports), and Robert Megennis (Team Pelfrey).
Martin was able to pull out to just over a one second lead over Lloyd in the first few laps after going back to green, however it appeared that the No. 21 Pabst Racing Mazda powered machine had just started come to the 21 year-old (he started the 8th las only 0.4 seconds behind Martin), when Cape Motorsports with /WTR rookie Jordan Cane spun in Turn 14.
The race was able to go back to green for a one lap shootout due to the quick work of the Holmatro Safety Team, who were able rapidly clear the wounded No. 4 of the 15 year-old off the track.
For the second straight restart, Martin got a good jump when the green flag flew, and he told TSO after the race that he was very happy to see the cars of Lloyd and Gabin side-by-side behind him.
After the race, Gabin told TSO that after the start they had to the weekend he was extremely pleased to be racing let alone on the podium. The No. 91 had a failure of a fairly new engine in the first practice session and it looked like 21-year old might have to miss the race weekend, but fellow USF2000 competitors Team Pelfrey stepped up to lease the JAY Motorsports squad an engine for the weekend.
Lloyd, who was making his first visit to Road America, credited the vast local experience of his Pabst Racing engineer Tonis Kasemets and team owner Augie Pabst, III for helping the Toowoomba, Austraila native learn the many nuances of the 14-Turn, 4.014-mile road course.
The three National Class drivers were led by local Green Bay, Wisconsin native Dale VandenBush. He was followed by Brenden Puterbach and Eric Filgueiras, who suffered a mechanical failure.
Complete Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Road America Powered by Mazda Race #1 results
|20||Sam Chastain||-2 LAPS|
|21||Jordan Cane||-5 LAPS|
|22||Eric Filgueiras||-7 LAPS|
|23||Garth Rickards||-11 LAPS|
|24||Yufeng Luo||-11 LAPS|