Pro Mazda at COTA: Preview

IndyCar, IndyCar commentary — By on February 28, 2013 11:05 am

The future stars of the IZOD IndyCar Series get their first real crack at the Circuit of the Americas this weekend in what many hope can serve as a precursor to a future IndyCar event at the Herman Tilke designed track.

This will likewise be my first trip to COTA and my on-site debut for More Front Wing. I’m looking forward to the experience and hope to provide everyone with some really good information from the track this weekend.

The Pro Mazda teams and drivers took advantage of a two-day test at the circuit this past weekend, which saw all 16 drivers complete a good number of laps at the new venue. Ahead of this weekend’s two races, the drivers will have an additional test day on Thursday, giving them more time to familiarize themselves with the layout.

Matthew Brabham, grandson of three-time Formula 1 World Champion Sir Jack Brabham and son of sports car champion Geoff Brabham, posted a 2:24.462 lap to take the top spot in the afternoon session, 1.2 seconds clear of the field. The next nine drivers were covered by less than a second. Brabham narrowly missed out on nabbing the top spot in the morning session as well, which was claimed by World Speed Motorsports driver Kyle Kaiser with a lap time of 2:05.798.

Brabham looks to be the early favorite for the event in his #83 Andretti Autosport mount, but given how much laps times have fallen from the start of testing there should be plenty of surprises in store.

Finnish driver Petri Suvanto placed fifth in last season’ s championship and with a year of seasoning under his belt is poised to mount a strong charge this year for Team Pelfrey, which also fields American Spencer Pigot. Pigot, who most recently gained notoriety for his cameo in the “Good Vibrations” video parody with GRAND-AM drivers Ricky and Jordan Taylor, is a former Team USA scholarship winner who took second in the USF2000 championship last year despite amassing 8 wins and 11 podiums.  Pigot also won the USF2000 Winterfest that year with five wins and four poles in six races.

JDC Motorsports brings a three-car lineup with an international flavor to the event, with Canadian Zach Meyer, Colombian Juan Piedrahita, and British driver Lloyd Read representing the squad. Read posted on Twitter Wednesday that he was having to have a nother bloo sample taken to comply with new drug testing procedures, but should be cleared in time to race. JDC recently tested at MSR Houston in preparation for the upcoming season, and JDC alum, GRAND-AM stalwart, and 2007 Star Mazda Champion Dane Cameron was on hand to give some coaching to the group.

Andretti Autosport will field cars this year for Brabham and Shelby Blackstock. Blackstock, the son of country singer Reba McEntire, showed solid results in USF2000 last year in addition to competing in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series for Roush Racing. Brabham is coming off a championship in USF2000 and will probably set the early benchmark for the team — at least until Blackstock gets more comfortable in the car.

I’ll be attempting to keep everyone up to date on all the happenings in the pits with the Pro Mazda teams this weekend and hope to snag a few interviews with the up and coming drivers to give everyone a glimpse of the future of the IZOD Indycar Series.

Keep an eye out for daily updates from me on Friday and Saturday. I’ll also be tweeting from my Twitter account, @jdlingle, with any and all musings of my experience. Be warned that I am a sports car fan as well, so expect some GRAND-AM tweets as well during the weekend — at least, as long as I remember to charge my phone!

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