Indy GP MRTI: Scott, Thompson, Baron, Kirkwood take the wins
As usual, the Mazda Road To Indy’s junior series produced fantastic slipstreaming races around the IMS road course, with Pro Mazda and USF2000 producing four winners from four races.
From pole position in Race 1, Cape Motorsports’ Oliver Askew came under immediate pressure from the Juncos Racing entry of Rinus VeeKay, whose presence on the outside led Askew into braking too late on the inside, running onto the grass and slipping down to seventh.
VeeKay ended Lap 1 with a one second lead over teammate Carlos Cunha, who had a yawning 2.5sec margin over RP Motorsports’ Harrison Scott who was desperately trying to hold off the BN Racing entry of David Malukas. He failed and next time by Malukas was up into third. The third Juncos entry of Robert Megennis, meanwhile, pitted at the end of that second lap, while Sting Ray Robb served a drive through for avoidable contact.
That allowed Parker Thompson of Exclusive Autosport into fifth but a full six seconds from the tail of the top four. That was rendered immaterial when the yellow flew on Lap 6. The restart on Lap 7 was Malukas’ big chance to vault at least one Juncos car. That didn’t quite work out in standard fashion, as Cunha went for a wild ride across the grass on the outside of Turn 1, and Malukas also passed VeeKay for the lead but was then given a drive-through penalty for twice exceeding track limits.
Thompson, meanwhile, had got past Scott, so briefly lay third, but both Scott and Askew demoted him on Lap 9. Lap 15 saw another yellow, this time for Andres Gutierrez’s engine apparently blowing up as he came onto the pit straight. Almost unnoticed was that in the mean time, Scott had slipped ahead of VeeKay and into the lead.
The restart saw Scott retain his lead and pull away to victory, while Askew pushed VeeKay down to third, and Cunha passed Thompson to reclaim fourth. It was Scott’s and RP Motorsport’s second consecutive win of the season.
The start of the second race saw Askew take a good lead, but VeeKay got thumped into the pitwall before they’d even made it over the yard of bricks, while Megennis went off into the Turn 2 gravel trap. He was retrieved but he was at the back and a lap down.
For the restart Askew led Cunha, Thompson and Scott. Askew protected the inside line down to Turn 1, Cunha got around him and then Thompson and Scott also displaced the erstwhile leader. Robb moved into the top six and then passed Gutierrez, who passed him back a lap later.
As Askew served a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact, so Scott passed Thompson for second and closed on Cunha. However, there was double trouble for RP Motorsport on Lap 10 as both cars expired, Scott’s on the main straight, Ludovico Laurini’s on the grass near Turn 10. Out came the caution again.
Cunha led the restart from Thompson, Gutierrez, Robb and Malukas, and two laps later Askew had carved his way back up to sixth. That became fifth when Malukas pulled off, while at the front, Thompson drafted past Cunha and into the lead on Lap 16. The Canadian then pulled away to win by 1.9sec while Cunha had a 7.5sec margin over the three-way battle behind. Robb left it until the last lap to pass Gutierrez for third into Turn 7, and Askew also made it past the Pelfrey car to grab fourth.
In Race 1, Kyle Kirkwood’s Cape Motorsports entry led from pole position but a caution period to retrieve Pabst Racing’s Lucas Kohl produced a restart that saw Alexandre Baron slot his Swan-RJB Motorsports machine into the lead, with BN Racing’s Jamie Caroline and Jose Sierra’s DEForce Racing entry into third and fourth. Calvin Ming’s Pabst Racing ran fifth, with Igor Fraga into sixth, up from 12th on the grid.
Another yellow saw Baron make a strong restart, and by hugging the pitwall down into the brake zone of Turn 1, he ensured Kirkwood stayed in his mirrors, although Sierra got around Caroline for third and Fraga displaced Ming for fifth.
The top two crossed the line next time by 1.4sec ahead of the pack but tied together; Kirkwood eased into the lead at Turn 1, but then Baron slipped back ahead and their battle allowed Sierra to join them by Lap 13 of the 15. These three then ran in formation to the checkers, covered by just 1.23sec, with Caroline in fourth.
Further back, Kory Enders got a second DE Force car into the top five by displacing Ming and Fraga, who also lost out to Julian Van Der Watt of Team Pelfrey.
In Race 2, Kirkwood led from start to finish, despite a couple of full-course cautions that leave the leader vulnerable to drafting along the long front straight.
However, most spectators’ attention was stolen by Alex Baron who, after spinning to the back following a collision with Caroline while fighting for second, stormed through the field to claim that runner-up spot.
Caroline and Frederick collided, ending their races, and allowing Swedish rookie Rasmus Lindh to claim third place for Pabst Racing, Darren Keane to finish fourth for Newman Wachs Racing, and series debutant James Roe to take a remarkable fifth place with Swan-RJB.
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