USF2000 Honors Drivers/Teams at Season-Ending Awards Banquet
 September 6, 2011| 
  • Series News

Champion Petri Suvanto Awarded Mazda Scholarship Package


The Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda enjoyed a highly successful 2011 season. Five drivers emerged as race winners and a total of nine drivers reached the podium over the 12 rounds of competition. In addition, four different drivers earned National Class wins. The final standings in both the Championship and National classes came down to a pair of races on September 3 and 4 held on the streets of Baltimore, Md., during a fan-packed weekend of racing headlined by the IZOD IndyCar Series and American Le Mans Series. The event featured a season-high 19-car USF2000 field.


The series recognized its top performers Sunday night in an awards ceremony at the Baltimore Convention Center during which over $480,000 in prizes were distributed. Speakers and presenters included Mazda USA’s Director of Motorsports John Doonan, Cooper Tires Director of Motorsport and Business Development Chris Pantani and INDYCAR Manager of Business Development for the Mazda Road to Indy Tony George Jr., alongside Dan Andersen, the Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions, the series promoter.


Petri Suvanto, 18, of Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing took center stage. The Finnish phenom captured the Championship class title – and the VP Rookie of the Year award – on the heels of five wins, five second-place finishes and one third, only failing to visit the podium once. As champion, Suvanto was awarded a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to the next step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder – the Star Mazda Championship – in 2012.


The series also acknowledged positions two through five in the championship with awards and prize money. Finishing second was Andretti Autosport’s Spencer Pigot, 17, of Orlando, Fla., the only challenger with a mathematical chance of overtaking Suvanto for top honors entering the race weekend. The official MAZDASPEED Development Driver’s impressive season included three wins – the most recent on Sunday – as well as eight podiums and four poles.


Belfast, Northern Ireland’s Wayne Boyd secured third place with his second victory of the season in Baltimore on Saturday. The 20-year-old Belardi Auto Racing driver’s final tally also included six podiums. Zach Veach, 16, of Andretti Autosport finished fourth with one win, five podiums and three poles. The Stockdale, Ohio, talent had a disappointing pair of final races after being tangled in a Lap 1 incident in Race 1 at Baltimore and retiring with suspension damage in the season finale.


Matthew Di Leo was engaged in a three-way battle for fifth but put a stamp on the position on Saturday when he captured his first podium of the season. The 16-year-old from Innisfil, Ont., Canada, earned two additional top-five finishes in a season marked by consistency.


The National Class title went to Luca Forgeois, 16, of New York City driving for Pabst Racing Services. Forgeois, who graduated to car racing this year, captured six wins and 10 podiums en route to the championship which features slightly less-powerful Zetec engines. He was awarded a package valued at $20,000 which includes a new, race-ready Mazda MZR 2.0 engine and a conversion kit to advance to the Championship Class next year.


The presentation to Forgeois was made by Steve Knapp of Elite Engines, the series engine supplier. USF2000 competitors enjoyed 100 percent engine reliability this season with Suvanto’s Mazda engine boasting over 6,000 miles since its last rebuild.


Andretti Autosport won the Team Championship for the second year in a row, with the combined results of Pigot and Veach totaling four wins, seven poles and 13 podium finishes. Championship-winning team Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing finished second and Belardi Auto Racing third.


Sick Tea Racing and driver Timmy Megenbier enjoyed two trips to the stage. Megenbier, 20, of Chicago, Ill., who finished sixth in the championship, earned the Tilton Hard Charger Award as the driver who amassed the most gains in position over the course of the season. Sick Tea Racing was presented the inaugural USF2000 Spirit Award, given to the team or driver that embodies the “heart of a champion” as they aspire to reach their goals.


Additional awards included the Bosch Mechanic of the Year Award which was presented to Ron Weaver of Andretti Autosport, and the tongue-in-cheek Golden Wishbone Award for the team that has logged the most “frequent flyer miles” at Carl Haas Auto – USF2000’s official parts supplier – which was presented to JDC MotorSports.


The USF2000 off-season will include the inaugural Mazda Road to Indy Scouting Combine on November 28 - 30 at Andersen RacePark in Palmetto, Fla., and the Cooper Tires Winterfest – a five-race mini-series held at Sebring International Raceway on February 6 and 7 and Palm Beach International Raceway on February 11 and 12.


The 2012 Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda schedule will be released later this month.

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