Mazda Road to Indy Heads to Louisiana
 April 8, 2015| 
  • Series News
PALMETTO, Fla. - Drivers from two of the three steps that comprise the Mazda Road to Indy, a scholarship laden development ladder which leads from the grassroots of the sport to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500, will be on stage this weekend at the inaugural Grand Prix of Louisiana. Both the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, which kicked off their 2015 campaigns two weeks ago on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., will continue with two more races this weekend, April 10-12, at the 2.74-mile NOLA Motorsports Park road course situated just across the Mississippi River from downtown New Orleans.

Eidson Leads the USF2000 Pack for Pabst Racing
After winning two of the three Cooper Tires USF2000 Winterfest pre-season races at NOLA in February, Jake Eidson (Pabst Racing) continued that form in St. Petersburg. The 19-year-old from Littleton, Colo., climbed to the top step on the podium in both races, although he was pushed hard each time by fellow American Aaron Telitz (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing).

The pair finished third and fourth, respectively, in the 2014 USF2000 title-chase, with Eidson winning twice and Telitz once. Telitz also took home Rookie of the Year honors.

Frenchman Nico Jamin, driving a second Cape Motorsports entry, joined the two Americans on the podium in Florida. He also beat them both to the Winterfest title, winning the final race after Eidson's quest was ended by a relatively minor mechanical issue.

The other driver to taste the spoils of victory at Winterfest was Victor Franzoni for Afterburner Autosport. The Brazilian finished fifth in the 2014 USF2000 points chase and is hungry for more success after a challenging weekend in Florida.

Three Australian rookies also will be worth watching. Two of them, F1600 race winners Anthony Martin and Jordan Lloyd, drive for the fledgling team run by former IndyCar team manager/crew chief John Cummiskey, while the third, Luke Gabin, who earned his MAZDASPEED scholarship opportunity by winning last year's Skip Barber Championship, will drive for Team Pelfrey. The Florida-based team, which this year expands its efforts into USF2000 while enjoying much success in Pro Mazda, also will field a multi-national entry for Norway's Ayla Agren, who won the 2014 F1600 Championship Series with the team, Los Angeles-based Russian Nikita Lastochkin and Pennsylvanian Garth Rickards.

A competitive field for the first rung on the Mazda Road to Indy also will include Canadian karting standout Parker Thompson (JDC MotorSports), who is coached by 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice, and the youngest driver in the field, second-year racer Keyvan Andres Soori (ArmsUp Motorsports), from Cologne, Germany, who only recently celebrated his 15th birthday.

The Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Louisiana will kick off with three promoter test sessions on Thursday and a pair of half-hour practices on Friday, April 10, followed by qualifying at 9:50 am on Saturday. The two 30-minute races will start at 3:30 pm on Saturday and 10:15 am on Sunday. Live timing and commentary for all sessions will be available at on the Mazda Road to Indy App and at
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