Di Leo Sets the Pace in Mazda Road to Indy Open Test
 October 12, 2012| 
  • Series News
USF2000 Graduates Shine in Star Mazda and Firestone Indy Lights

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Matthew Di Leo of MDL Racing was the pacesetter amongst the 27 USF2000 drivers on hand for the second annual Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Open Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway which concluded yesterday. The 17-year-old sophomore Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda driver was unofficially quickest in two of the four test sessions, which showcased a remarkable group of rising talent with the top-10 drivers – many of whom were turning their first laps in a USF2000 car - separated by a mere half second.

Di Leo narrowly bested the JDC MotorSports’ pair of Michael Johnson and Sennan Fielding for top honors. Johnson, 20, who made his USF2000 racing debut this season and is the first paralyzed racer on the Mazda Road to Indy, was quickest in the third session and his best lap of 1:27.637 (103.271 mph) was only 0.014 seconds off of Di Leo’s mark. Equally impressive was the performance of 16-year-old Sennen Fielding. The Chesterfield, England, driver – who competes in the British Ginetta Junior Championship – was only 0.015 seconds in arrears of Johnson in his first-ever USF2000 outing.

Antti Buri, 23, of Turku, Finland, also garnered his share of attention aboard another JDC MotorSports’ entry. The test invitee – courtesy of his MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain crown and INDYCAR’s alliance with the series – was quickest in testing on Day One and took his turn aboard a Star Mazda ride on Thursday posting the fifth fastest lap in both sessions.

Skip Barber Winter and Summer Series Presented by Mazda champ Jake Eidson, 17, posted the fourth quickest time for Belardi Auto Racing. RC Enerson, who finished a close third in this year’s National Class championship, set the fifth fastest time in his graduation to a Championship Class car with ZSports Midwest with Team E Racing. The top five were separated by a mere 0.128 seconds.

“This was a great outing,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “The talent I have witnessed these two days is incredible. There are numerous future stars in the group that we had on hand. Obviously, the drivers that participated in the full test benefitted from two days of running so the times are really not representative for the single-day drivers. If this test is an indication, we are in store for a fantastic season of racing next year.

“It was heartwarming and gratifying to see our series’ graduates do so well in the test, and I have to thank INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for this event and their continued support of the Mazda Road to Indy program. I also want to say a thank you to [IZOD IndyCar Series driver] Josef Newgarden who donated his time as a driver coach for the test, which was greatly appreciated by everyone.”

USF2000 graduates Spencer Pigot, Matthew Brabham and Shelby Blackstock made impressive Star Mazda debuts with Pigot at the top of the timesheets in all four sessions, Blackstock running second in both Day One outings and Brabham coming in third and fourth on Day Two. In Firestone Indy Lights, 2011 graduate Zach Veach set the fastest time of the two days.

Over 50 drivers participated in the two-day test among the three series.

USF2000 will be back in action in February with the Cooper Tires Winterfest – a pre-season, six-race mini-series – featuring rounds at Sebring International Raceway on February 5/6 and Palm Beach International Raceway on February 9/10.

Combined Unofficial Results
Pos No. Name (Nat) Best Time Speed Team

1. 56 Matthew Di Leo (CDN) 1:27.623 103.288 MDL Racing
2. 54 Michael Johnson (USA) 1:27.637 103.271 JDC MotorSports
3. 38 Sennan Fielding (GB) 1:27.652 103.254 JDC MotorSports
4. 11 Jake Eidson (USA) 1:27.740 103.150 Belardi Auto Racing
5. 10 RC Enerson (USA) 1:27.751 103.137 ZSports Midwest w/Team E 
6. 14 Danilo Estrela (BRA) 1:27.937 102.919 Belardi Auto Racing
7. 18 Tristan Viidas (EST) 1:27.939 102.917 Pabst Racing Services
8. 85 Brandon Newey (USA) 1.27.966 102.885 JDC MotorSports
9. 19 Antti Buri (FIN) 1:28.135 ** 102.688 JDC MotorSports
10. 8 TJ Fischer (USA) 1:28.209 102.602 Andretti Autosport
11. 7 Luca Forgeois (USA) 1:28.542 ** 102.216 Andretti Autosport
12. 9 Adrian Starrantino (USA) 1:28.570 102.184 Belardi Auto Racing
13. 5 Dalton Kellett (CDN) 1:28.617 102.129 Pabst Racing Services
14. 19 Kevin Aabol (NOR) 1:28.620 ** 102.126 JDC MotorSports
15. 17B Nathan Blok (CDN) 1:29.133 101.538 Afterburner Autosport
16. 4 Nick Neri (USA) 1:29.392 ** 101.244 Belardi Auto Racing
17. 7 Ayla Agren (NOR) 1:29.803 ** 100.781 Andretti Autosport
18. 4 Yukio Duzanowski (BRA) 1:29.897 ** 100.675 Belardi Auto Racing
19. 21 Ryan Verra (CDN) 1:30.639 99.851   Afterburner Autosport 20. 17W*Scott Rettich (USA) 1:30.850  99.619 Alliance Autosport 21. 6* JR Smart (USA) 1:31.086  99.361 Pabst Racing Services 22. 17B Joe Ruch (USA) 1:31.231 **  99.203  Afterburner Autosport 23. 23 Michael Adams (CDN) 1:31.898 **  98.483 JAY Motorsports 24. 28 Joel Janco (USA) 1:32.301 **  98.053 Robinson Motor Sports 25. 98* Jim Libecco (USA) 1:32.499  97.843 JAY Motorsports 26. 32* James Dayson (CDN) 1:35.275  94.992 ArmsUp Motorsports 27. 86* Eric Cruz (USA) 1:36.291  93.990 Cruzinc Racing
*   National Class Competitor **  One Day Test 
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