Team Pelfrey: Gabin Stars on Indianapolis GP Circuit
 May 12, 2015| 
  • Team News
Indianapolis, Ind. – A hectic Mazda Road to Indy weekend for Team Pelfrey at the Indianapolis Grand Prix circuit brought a breakthrough performance for Luke Gabin in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

The Australian, who stepped up to USF2000 this year after winning a MAZDASPEED scholarship through the Skip Barber Racing Championship Shootout, was in contention for podium finishes in both events before settling for a fifth and a fourth, while Garth Rickards ran among the top six on both events. A mistake on the last lap gifted sixth place to teammate Ayla Agren on Friday, while Rickards ran an excellent fourth in Race Two before his day was ended by gearbox failure. Teammate Nikita Lastochkin also posted his most competitive weekend to date, fighting back from an early spin on Friday to finish eighth before adding a solid seventh-place effort in Race Two.

“Overall, it was a fantastic weekend for Team Pelfrey at the Speedway,” declared Team Pelfrey Team Manager Nigel Tuckey.  “Our USF2000 team continues to surge forward, with Luke securing two top-five finishes and Garth, Ayla and Nikita all securing solid finishes and demonstrating very competitive pace during the course of the event. We need to keep up the good work and push as hard as ever as we head to the first oval event of the season.”

Both championships will continue with the first left-turn-only races of the season at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis as part of the #MRTI FreedomFest weekend during the lead-up to the 99th Indianapolis 500.

Ayla Agren (#81 Team Pelfrey/Energima/BVR/Alt I Asfalt/Salming Hockey/KNA/CoForce/Women’s Sports Foundation Van Diemen-Mazda) – Race One, started ninth, finished sixth; Race Two, started 10th, finished 14th: “Overall it was a positive weekend for us. As a team we showed good pace, the car felt good and the race runs were decent. We finished P6 in Race One, and Race Two was looking good until I got a (tire) flat-spot early in the race which then punctured on the last lap. That was a bit unfortunate, but I'm very positive going forward, building off the momentum we got here. Next race will be Lucas Oil Raceway and the first time on an oval.”

Luke Gabin (#82 Team Pelfrey/MAZDASPEED/Skip Barber/Mandurah Panel and Paint/Colbyson Van Diemen-Mazda) - Race One, started fifth, finished fifth; Race Two, started fifth, finished fourth: “I had a great weekend on the IMS road course.  I think by scoring two top-five finishes it was an extremely productive event for me.  Hopefully, next time out, which is in two weeks’ time on the Lucas Oil oval, we can challenge for a podium spot by building on this momentum.”

Garth Rickards (#83 Team Pelfrey/Rahal Automotive Group/Snap 21 Van Diemen-Mazda) – Race One, started eighth, finished seventh; Race Two, started seventh, finished 17th: “I have to say I finally got to check off racing at the Speedway from my bucket list – even though it was in the opposite direction (to the oval). It gave me goose-bumps hearing our Mazda engine fly down the front straight. Furthermore, it was a very up-and-down weekend with things we couldn't control. I'm really proud of my team and know we have the pace to be on the podium – we just need our breakthrough. We had a good race on Friday and an even better race going on Saturday when I was chasing down third place. Unfortunately, gearbox issues forced us to retire early. I know our luck will change; it’s just a matter of when.”

Nikita Lastochkin (#84 Team Pelfrey/Russkaya Mekhanika) – Race One, started seventh, finished eighth; Race Two, started eighth, finished seventh: “This was the most competitive weekend for me in the USF2000 series, as well as Team Pelfrey. The highs were running as high as fourth during practice and fighting for the same position during Race One. Several mistakes prevented us from getting the results during the race days, and as soon as we dial those out I am sure we are going to be looking very good in the near future.”

Dale Pelfrey’s race team, based in Palmetto, Fla., is built upon the same principles he used more than 35 years ago when establishing his business career – hire the best, acquire the best and expect the best in order to achieve the most. After fielding cars in the IndyCar Series from 1998 until 2000, Team Pelfrey was reformed in 2011, winning on its Pro Mazda debut and going on to earn the Team Championship as well as second and third in the drivers’ title-chase with Connor De Phillippi and Nick Andries. Team Pelfrey went one better in 2012, guiding Jack Hawksworth to the Drivers’ Championship and earning a second successive Team Championship. An expansion into the F1600 Championship Series for 2014 saw Ayla Agren, Garth Rickards and Augie Lerch secure the top three positions in the points table. The 2015 season also marks Team Pelfrey’s debut in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
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