[Source: Afterburner Autosport press release]
DONATO ADDED TO AFTERBURNER AUTOSPORT TITLE CHASING USF2000 CHAMPIONSHIP LINE-UP
Brazilian joins series race winners as part of four-car effort in 2014
MINNEAPOLIS, MIN. (March 19, 2014) – Afterburner Autosport is pleased to announce the addition of Felipe Donato to its skilled 2014 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda driver line-up. The Brazilian racer joins the Minnesota-based team as part of a four-car title effort this coming season, focused on adding to the squad’s winning resume, and building on a strong rookie campaign.
Afterburner Autosport, like all its USF2000 Championship competitors, is focused on winning races and challenging for championship titles. That being said, one of its primary objectives in this pursuit is to work with and help develop up-and-coming talent. With the addition of Donato to their 2014 driver roster, the squad firmly believes it has another opportunity to do just that.
“We are very excited to have another second-year driver in our line-up,” commented team principal Tim Walsh. “Felipe is experienced with the tracks we are running, as well as the car, so he should be someone to watch all season. He is a great addition to the team.”
“I am very excited about the opportunity to compete one more year in the one of most important motorsport championships in the world, the US2000 Championship,” added Donato. “I will do my best for all the people who believe in my potential, and I’ll fight to be in the top positions throughout the whole season.”
Donato returns to USF2000 action in 2014, having showcased pace and racecraft in his inaugural season of North American junior formula car action via two top-five finishes, and seven top-10s. Prior to making the transition to the Mazda Road to Indy program, the native of Guarani das Missões, Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil was a title contender in the both the Santa Catarina State Karting Championship and Brazilian National Karting Championship, as well as a race winner in the South American Karting Championship. Donato subsequently earned a scholarship to race in the Brazilian Formula Futuro Fiat championship, before racing and winning in the 2012 Veloce Cup.
The 19 year-old Donato will be part a highly-rated driver line-up under the Afterburner Autosport awning in 2014. Mixing returning racers with rookies, he will partner fellow second-year driver Jeroen Slaghekke, and rookies Victor Franzoni and Gustavo Myasava, who also hail from Brazil. The experienced squad – led by Tim Walsh and Brian Tomasi – has already indicated their intentions to build on a double-win 2013 campaign. Afterburner Autosport posted the best lap during the annual year-end Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, as well as capturing the win in the opening round of the Cooper Tires Winterfest for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda at NOLA Motorsports Park outside of New Orleans.
The chase for Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda supremacy gets underway on March 29-30, when the opening two rounds of the 14-race season are run in conjunction with the Verizon IndyCar Series opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.