Mazda Road to Indy – Preparing for the Ovals

All of the various series that are part of INDYCAR and the Mazda Road to Indy program have opened their seasons with road and street courses. Beginning next weekend, though, everyone switches to oval tracks! Racing on an oval is not as easy as going fast and turning left as those who attended the USF2000 Oval Clinic earlier this month learned. This past weekend, the Star Mazda Championship, in preparation for their coming sequence of three oval races, held an open test at the Milwaukee Mile. For many drivers in the Mazda Road to Indy program, this is going to be their first experience racing on an oval. Joao (JV) Horto, racing last year for JDC MotorSports, found the experience to be more challenging than he first expected.

“Last year was my first time racing in an oval and thanks to Mazda and Road to Indy it was amazing being part of the activities of the biggest race of America. All the activities provided to Star Mazda’s drivers were very helpful to improve my driving on an oval track, especially the laps with Rick Mears teaching us at Indianapolis Speedway. An oval track is much harder than it looks. And Lucas Oil Raceway is a very technique and challenging track, since the faster line is very high and closer to the wall, which it makes important that you not make any mistakes.” — Tristan Vautier, #5 JDC MotorSports

For the test at Milwaukee, the Star Mazda crowd suffered the same types of weather delays and issues that plagued Time Trials weekend at Indianapolis. They were able to get some laps in, however, and the top five drivers on the time sheet bested the old track record! Leading the way was JDC Motorsport’s driver Tristan Vautier. Nick Andries (P2) and Connor Di Phillipi (P5) of Team Pelfry, Sage Karam (P3) of Andretti Autosport, and Tatiana Calderon (P4) of Juncos Racing rounded out the top five.

“The weather prevented us from getting in all the scheduled running time, but everyone agreed it was a productive test and that the next three races, all ovals, will be extremely competitive. We had a few minor incidents, but nothing serious, and we got to test the new in-car yellow-light warning system that will be in all the cars for the Night Before the 500. We’ll have another three-hour test session on Friday night at Lucas Oil Raceway, which should tighten up the field even more. With the top-6 cars already within half a second of each other, and the top-10 within one second, fans of Star Mazda Championship and the Mazda Road to Indy are going to see a lot of exciting, wheel-to-wheel racing in the next three races.” — Gary Rodrigues, founder and President of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear. “

The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear returns to action on Saturday night at the Lucas Oil Raceway Park and will be joined at the track by the US F2000 National Championship presented by Cooper Tires and powered by Mazda, and the USAC Midgets. The OpenPaddock crew will be there supporting the Mazda Road to Indy program and USAC in the grass in Turn 1. Stop by and say hi! First one to find us will get an 11×17 print of their choice from any of our photo galleries!

Here are the full results of the testing session at the Milwaukee Mile.

Pos No. Name Best Tm Best Speed In Lap Diff Gap Sponsor
1 5 Tristan Vautier 27.489 130.961 44 Cecibon, Circuit du Laquais, Fontanel
2 81 Nick Andries 27.637 130.260 46 0.148 0.148 Lithionics Battery / GS610 Brake Fluid / Trademark Garage Floors
3 88 Sage Karam 27.709 129.922 47 0.220 0.072 MAZDASPEED / Comfort Revolution
4 10 Tatiana Calderon 27.758 129.692 66 0.269 0.049 JAC Motors
5 11 Connor De Phillippi 27.923 128.926 52 0.434 0.165 Justice Brothers Products / Trademark Garage Floors
6 7 J.V. Horto 27.994 128.599 73 0.505 0.071 Programa LeiLoes
7 60 Martin Scuncio 28.174 127.777 55 0.685 0.180 Bia Comunicaciones / Cable Del Pacifico
8 28 Gustavo Menezes 28.202 127.651 110 0.713 0.028 / Truecar, Inc.
9 20 Carlos Linares 28.810 124.957 55 1.321 0.608 Mindeporte
10 27 Nick Mancuso 28.821 124.909 82 1.332 0.011 Jimmy Johns Sandwiches /Indeck / Lake Forest Sportscars
11 48 Patrick McKenna 28.843 124.814 36 1.354 0.022 Mosport Ireland / Irish Sports Council / General Data Tech
12 39 Joao Jardin 28.920 124.481 28 1.431 0.077
13 26 Jérimy Daniel 29.273 122.980 50 1.784 0.353 FixAuto / Sherwin-Williams


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