Down to the wire at Laguna Seca
After ten tense race weekends the fight for the 2016 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires Championship will intensify as it reaches what is likely to be a dramatic conclusion this weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. After a strong second season in the series Carlin are well and truly in the title hunt with Ed Jones just one point from the overall lead as the field look forward to the last round at the Californian circuit. Félix Serrallés is also in the mix with two final races left to run while Neil Alberico, in his first year in the competitive field, is hoping for a strong end to his season in his native state.
The 2016 season so far has seen a total of seven different winners over the course of the 16 rounds – both Jones and Serrallés appear on that list with the pair each taking two themselves. This incredible season has meant that as the championship nears the end the fight for the crown is fiercely tight with a handful of drivers still able to realistically take the title as their own. The strong racing form from Jones, Serrallés and Alberico has also ensured that Carlin sits at the top of the team standings.
The previous round at Watkins Glen saw Jones blitz his way back up the standings and to within one point of current championship leader Santiago Urrutia following a fantastic drive to second position. This result has left him in a strong positon with two races left to run in the Mazda Road to Indy series with Serrallés also looking strong in fifth.
Looking ahead to the race weekend Jones said, “I can’t believe we are already at the last round. Going into the season you always want to have a chance at the title at the last round and we have definitely achieved that. I’m really looking forward to getting underway with the weekend and hopefully come away with the championship. The team and I have worked so hard not only this year but also last season so it would be incredible to get the reward we deserve.
“In terms of our approach it’s all-out attack. We are pretty much level on points for the lead so it’s whoever has the better weekend wins.”
Speaking of the weekend Serrallés added, “I have the experience from last year at Mazda Raceway, but what’s different is that I’m with Carlin now. They qualified on pole, had a good car there last year and have been competitive all season this year. I have confidence in the team and in the car, so if I do everything right, I can be up there. It’s a matter of how you look at it and making sure you stay positive.”
Rookie racer Alberico said of the Californian round, “It always feels good to race in front of the home crowd here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It’d be nice to have a one-two-three for Carlin to cap off the season. I think the whole team was strong here last year and I’d say if we pick up where they left off we can make that happen.”
The Championship decider gets underway on Friday with two free practice sessions before qualifying on Saturday followed by the opening race; the final race of the season will take place on Sunday afternoon.