M1's Franzoni Finishes Fourth on Saturday in Pro Mazda Action
 June 16, 2015| 
  • Team News

Schutte Makes Solid Series Debut and Horak Gets an Expert Class Win

TORONTO, Ont. — M1 Racing's Victor Franzoni posted his best finish to date when he placed fourth in only his third event ever in the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires Saturday on the street circuit at Exhibition Place in Toronto.

Franzoni, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, took the checkered flag only 0.7868 of a second after the third-place finisher in the 30-minute race on the 11-turn, 1.755-mile street circuit. He was driving the AutoEnginuity/Novac Sports #21, which also carries the logo of team sponsor Tampa Bay Jaw Surgery Centers.

The Dallas-based team fielded three cars in the doubleheader, and the other two drivers had good weekends, too. Learning as much as possible, gaining experience and staying out of trouble were the primary goals of young Bryson Schutte, who made his Pro Mazda debut. The young driver from Uxbridge, Ontario accomplished all that and was rewarded with tenth and 11th-place finishes with his Spectrodata Communications car. Meanwhile, Pro Mazda veteran Jay Horak of Mesa, Ariz. also finished both races and came away with an Expert class victory on Sunday with his AutoEnginuity #37.

M1's drivers' first feat was not getting involved in a six-car crash in Turn 3 on the first lap of Saturday's race. Somehow all three picked their way through the carnage that wiped out a third of the field and also caused six of the 19 laps to be run under yellow.

That vaulted Franzoni from 11th to sixth, Schutte from 16th to tenth, and Horak from 18th to 12th for the restart on Lap 7 with about 13 minutes left.

When the race finally got going Franzoni was the star of the show, as he made two incredible passes on the outside to move from sixth to fourth. He charged by Santiago Urrutia for fifth place in Turn 3 working Lap 11 to vault into fifth. He got fourth with another outside move by Garett Grist on the hill exiting the backstraight hairpin working lap 15 with only 4 minutes remaining. That one was so impressive it earned him the RePlay XD Move of the Race Award.

Franzoni set the third-fastest lap of the race on the last lap as he tried to nail down a podium finish, but Timothe Buret was less than a second ahead of him at the line. Florian Latorre was able to walk away from the field as his rivals battled behind him, and he had a five-seond lead over the runnerup, Pato O'Ward, at the end. Schutte kept his pace consistent for a solid tenth-place run, while Horak did the same to finish second in the Expert class on Saturday.

All three M1 drivers moved up one spot at the start of Sunday's race when Dalton Kellett didn't start. Franzoni moved from tenth to eighth when he passed Will Owen working Lap 3 right before Neil Alberico crashed in Turn 2. Expert class driver Bobby Eberle had a problem at that point too, and his departure gave Horak the Expert class victory.

Unfortunately Franzoni spun and tagged the wall in Turn 10 under yellow working Lap 4 on the wet but drying track, and retired shortly thereafter due to the damage. He ended up 16th in the final rundown.

The leader, Latorre, had a similar problem on the restart on Lap 8 and spun in front of the whole field. Although the field was all spread out the restart wasn't called off, so Schutte got back to business in 11th position and Horak did the same in 13th. 

Raoul Owens passed Schutte working Lap 11 to push him back to 12th, but he got 11th when the ninth-place driver, Alessandro Latif, and Latorre got together in Turn 3 working Lap 16. That moved Horak up to 12th, and the race ended under that full-course caution with 17 laps complete.

"We were so close to the podium on Saturday!" Franzoni noted. "We came from 11th to fourth. It was a great result for M1 Racing and me. We're always improving, and we'll have a great result soon!"

"The first race went quite well; I had a slow start in 16th but I kept the car in one piece and set my fastest lap time of the weekend," Schutte said afterwards. "At the checkered I brought the car home in a respectable tenth.

"The second race was a bit of a shock, as it began to rain just before I made my way to grid," he continued. "This was my first time driving a Pro Mazda car in the rain and there was a lot I needed to figure out quickly. My main focus was to keep the car in one piece and to adjust to the changing conditions. This allowed me to finish in 11th spot from 16th.

"The most important part of this weekend was to make strong progress in my speed as well as to keep the car in one piece and to finish both features," he added. "I really want to thank my sponsor, Spectrodata Communications, and M1 Racing for the opportunity."

The next Pro Mazda event is a single race on the oval at Iowa Speedway July 17-18.
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