Mazda Road to Indy Drivers Set for Spring Training in Alabama
 March 2, 2016| 
  • Series News

Cosmopolitan Field will Converge in Birmingham for Final Pre-Season Test

PALMETTO, Fla. – Almost 50 up-and-coming race car drivers representing no fewer than 18 nations will converge this week on Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., for the official Mazda Road to Indy Spring Training Test – the final opportunity for teams to prepare for the following week’s season-opening races on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.

All three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy will be in attendance, with Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competitors taking to the scenic 2.3-mile road course on Saturday, March 5, and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda fields sharing track time on Sunday and Monday, March 6-7.

The Mazda Road to Indy provides a clear path for teams and drivers with scholarship prizes at every level to assist in their progression from karting through USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. More than $3.6 million will be up for grabs during the season which begins with the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 11-13 and continues through to the finale for all three series at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., on September 9-11.

Nine Nationalities Among 22-Strong USF2000 Entry
The first rung of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder already is brimming with talent as drivers from as far afield as Australia, Brazil, China, England, New Zealand, Norway and Russia are set to challenge home-grown talent from both Canada and the United States in this year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Among those seeking to follow in the footsteps of 2015 champion Nico Jamin are three of last year’s most promising rookies, Australian Anthony Martin, Canadian Parker Thompson and Los Angeles-based Russian Nikita Lastochkin. The trio finished fourth, fifth and eighth, respectively in 2015 and aim to continue the Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing team’s legacy by vying for a sixth consecutive championship crown.

Pabst Racing, which guided Jake Eidson to three wins and second place in the 2015 title-chase, will return with Pennsylvanian Garth Rickards and China’s Yufeng Luo, both of whom posted promising results during their rookie campaigns, plus Jordan Lloyd, who showed well in a few USF2000 outings before returning to his native Australia to win the inaugural CAMS Jayco Formula 4 Championship last year.

Team Pelfrey once again will field no fewer than four Van Diemen-Mazdas for Jordan Cane, from England, who won a record-equaling seven F1600 Championship Series races last year at the tender age of 14; New Yorker Robert Megennis, 15, who also made his mark with eight podium finishes; Californian TJ Fischer, who has competed in Europe the past two years; and Kiwi James Munro, who comfortably won the New Zealand Formula Ford title in 2013.

Other potential front-runners include John Cummiskey Racing’s pair of Ayla Agren, from Norway, who in 2014 became the first female to win the F1600 Championship Series, and Brazilian Lucas Kohl; 2014 Skip Barber Scholarship winner Luke Gabin (JAY Motorsports), from Australia, who finished sixth in the 2015 championship, highlighted by a podium finish in Toronto; two-time Team USA Scholarship winner Michai Stephens (RJB Motorsports); and Dakota Dickerson (Afterburner Autosport), who will step up to USF2000 on the strength of a Mazda scholarship after winning the Skip Barber Racing Championship Shootout, plus a Team USA Scholarship, in 2015.

The Mazda Road to Indy Spring Training test will commence with a pair of sessions for Indy Lights on Saturday, March 5, from 9:00-12:00 p.m. and 1:30-5:00 p.m., then continue with the Pro Mazda and USF2000 teams taking over with three sessions apiece on Sunday and Monday. Live timing for all on-track sessions will be carried on the respective series websites – indylights.compromazda.com and usf2000.com.

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