The Team Pelfrey threesome of Weiron Tan, Pato O’Ward and Aaron Telitz head to the Mazda North American Operations Presents the Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Alabama Cooper Tires double-header, the third and fourth rounds of the 2016 Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire championship, as the overwhelming favorites at Barber Motorsports Park.
- Sophomore O’Ward and rookie Telitz split the pair of races in St. Petersburg and sit one-two in the fight for the Mazda Motorsports Advancement Scholarship that the series champion will receive. Rice Lake, Wisconsin native Telitz currently trails the 16 year-old O’Ward by a scant two points, on the virtue of O’Ward scoring more bonus points in the opening round. Tan, a 20 year-old sophomore pilot, sits in third in the championship after a mixed weekend in St. Petersburg.
- During the spring training testing this past March, the trio went one-two-three with Telitz leading O’Ward by only two-hundreths of a second, with Tan only another two-tenths of a second behind.
- All three drivers have had success on the 2.3-Mile, 17-Turn Road Course in the past. In four races at Barber Motorsports Park, Tan has scored two wins and one second while starting on the front row in all four starts. O’Ward has made two starts in Birmingham, Alabama and came home in fifth and seventh. Between the regular season and Winterfest, Telitz has made nine Barber starts. His impressive line includes, one win, three podiums, and seven top fives.
Gunning for the Team Pelfrey trio will be a foursome from Juncos Racing, a duo from Cape Motorsports with /WTR, and a single from JDC Motorsports.
Cape Motorsports with /WTR sophomores Nico Jamin and Jake Eidson will be looking to join current Indy Lights drivers Scott Hargrove and Neil Alberico as Barber Motorsports Park Pro Mazda winners for the St. Petersburg, Florida based team.
Both 20 year-olds, Jamin and Eidson have combined for 18 career starts and seven podiums in Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda competition at Barber Motorsports Park, but will need to improve on the sixth and 10th best times in the spring training testing.
Juncos Racing leads all teams in wins (4), poles (4) and podiums (10) at Barber Motorsports Park and will be looking to get back on pace after an uncharacteristically “off” weekend in St. Petersburg.
Pre-season favorite, Garett Grist, who just turned 21 years-old will need a solid weekend to get back in the chase for the 2016 championship. The Grimsby, Ontario native has eight previous starts at the Birmingham, Alabama track and has not yet finished outside the top 8.
Between USF2000 and Pro Mazda, Owen has nine Barber starts with one pole, one top five and two top tens in the two 2015 races.
Juncos Racing rookies Nicolas Dapero and Jake Parsons do not have Barber Race experience, but both had successful spring training tests. Argentinian Dapero had the fourth quickest lap-time during the early March test, while Australian Parson was the seventh quickest.
The final Pro Mazda entry is Jorge Cevallos, who after a successful return to racing at St. Petersburg, announced that he would be contesting the full Pro Mazda season with JDC Motorsports.
An FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy who finished third in the 2013 Protyre Formula Renault UK Series, Cevallos missed the past season-and-a-half of racing after undergoing surgery for Ulcerative Colitis. The 21 year-old, who is backed by Escuderia Telmex, Visit Baja California, Caliente Casinos, llantas Tersa and Bell Helmets is focused on regaining his strength and stamina and very well could be contending for top fives in the near future.
“The whole JDC MotorSports team is really motivated for Barber,” said Cevallos. For me, personally, being back on the race track at St. Pete felt like a win, and to come out of it with a double top-10 gave us a lot of motivation working towards Barber. We’ve worked hard and hope to turn a few more heads early in the season.”
What TSO will be watching for this weekend:
- Can Cape Motorsports with /WTR and Juncos Racing make some progress and find the necessary pace to stop the Team Pelfrey train that has been on a role since the beginning of 2015.
- Tan has been very, very quick at Barber Motorsports Park in the past, and this weekend provides him with a great opportunity to eat into his teammates championship lead.
- O’Ward is only confirmed through this weekend; can he continue the momentum he found in St. Pete and extend his season into May at Indianapolis.
- Will Juncos Racing and engineer Peter Dempsey be able to find what ailed them during testing in March. The team has had previous success at the track in past.
Thursday testing and practice
The ten car field took to Barber Motorsports Park on Thursday, April, 21 for two promotor test session and one official practice session.
Leading the way during the two test sessions was Aaron Telitz. He was followed closely by his teammate and championship leader O’Ward. Juncos Racing’s Garett Grist, Jake Parsons, and Will Owen made up the rest of the top 5. The biggest surprise? Championship favorite Weiron Tan could only manage the eighth quickest time.
The lone official practice session was run under damp conditions and only seven cars took to the track with the Team Pelfrey trio of Aaron Telitz, Pato O’Ward and Aaron Telitz sitting out the session.
Due to the moist track, the seven drivers only turned a total of 46 laps with JDC Motorsports newest full-season signee, Jorge Cevallos leading the way.
Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire weekend schedule
Friday, April 22, 2016
- 8:45am-9:15am — Pro Mazda practice #2
- 2:25pm-2:45pm — Pro Mazda qualifying
Saturday, April 23, 2016
- 4:30pm-5:20pm — Pro Mazda Race #1
Sunday, April 24, 2016
- 11:15am – 12:05pm — Pro Mazda race #2