Mazda Road to Indy Battles Resume at Indianapolis
 May 9, 2017| 
  • Series News

Aspiring IndyCar Racers Carry Royal Purple Colors in Support of Lupus Foundation

PALMETTO, Fla. – All three levels of the acclaimed Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel development ladder will return to action this week in the fourth annual Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Well over 50 competitors will converge upon the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course for double-header rounds.

The level of intensity in all three series – Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda – will be fierce, and each of the six races will have some additional commonality in being presented by Royal Purple Synthetic Oil and held in support of the Lupus Foundation of America during Lupus Awareness Month. Every car will carry a decal as a means of raising awareness for this mysterious autoimmune disease, and the #RaceToEndLupus hashtag will be used throughout the event. A special donation page has been set up at lupus.org/racing.

Beginning with the Mazda Road to Indy Grand Prix Presented by Royal Purple Supporting the Lupus Foundation of America and retroactive to the season-opening race in St. Petersburg, all race winners in the Mazda Road to Indy will be presented with special “rice spoon” (called a skakushi) decals for their cars from Mazda to acknowledge their accomplishments. The rice spoon is a talisman for good luck, victory, business prosperity and a safe household, and the characters on the spoon read “Certain Victory” and “Must Win.”

“The Mazda brand and our entire motorsports program is based on the idea that we ‘Never Stop Challenging,’” said John Doonan, Director of Motorsports for Mazda North American Operations. “That determines how we improve our vehicles and how we provide our customers with enjoyment. One way we celebrate Mazda’s heritage is through winning on the race track. Every weekend, our racers come to the track with the hope of achieving ‘certain victory.' These decals for the Mazda Road to Indy and Mazda Road to 24 race winners represent a badge of honor and the virtues of fighting hard for victory.”

After winning last year’s USF2000 championship (and one of the races at Indianapolis), along with a Mazda Scholarship to assist in the graduation to Pro Mazda in 2017, Australian Anthony Martin has hit the ground running. The 22-year-old from Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, won both of the opening rounds at St. Petersburg and will look to build upon that momentum with his Cape Motorsports team in this week’s pair of races.

Martin’s primary opposition is likely to stem once again from the locally based Juncos Racing entry of his former USF2000 rival Victor Franzoni. From Sao Paulo, Brazil, Franzoni finished a close second in both St. Petersburg races, while Californian TJ Fischer secured a pair of third-place results for Team Pelfrey which has won the three most recent races on the Indianapolis Grand Prix circuit.

Fischer’s teammate, Carlos Cunha, also from Brazil, showed impressive form on his North American debut, while young Americans Phillippe Denes, from Carmel, Calif., and Sting Ray Robb, from Payette, Idaho, are intent upon continuing to make strong progress with the World Speed Motorsports team alongside veteran Bobby Eberle, from Houston, Texas.

Los Angeles-based Russian Nikita Lastochkin, stepping up from USF2000 in a third Team Pelfrey entry, also ran well in the season openers with a pair of top-five finishes.

Contenders in the National class will include Kevin Davis, from Alvin, Ill., who currently leads the points table, and newcomer Steven Ford, Dallas, Texas, who will be making his Pro Mazda debut with World Speed Motorsports.

Two hours of testing on Thursday, May 11, will precede a 30-minute official practice session later in the day. A pair of qualifying sessions on Friday morning will set the grids for each of two races – the first at 3:25 p.m. on Friday and the second at 8:15 a.m. on Saturday.

Live timing of all Thursday sessions will be available on the respective series websites as well as indycar.com and the Road To Indy TV App, with live streaming available on all outlets, including Xbox One, beginning on Friday.

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