Road America Pro Mazda: Franzoni dominates for third win
Victor Franzoni lived up to the promise of his 1.3sec advantage in qualifying to beat Anthony Martin and extend his championship lead in the first of two Pro Mazda races at Road America this weekend.
Juncos Racing’s Franzoni converted his pole position into the lead at the start but only after holding off a bold move by Cape Motorsports’ Anthony Martin. However, it took only two corners before the reigning USF2000 champion got into the lead, although it was clear the battle wasn’t over, as the pair swapped places twice more on the second lap, crossing the line just 0.065sec apart.
Carlos Cunha had pulled his Team Pelfrey went off the track on the opening lap and then pitted, allowing his teammates Nikita Lastochkin and TJ Fischer into third and fourth. And the intense battle for the lead kept the yellow cars in play initially, while pulling a 5sec lead over Sting Ray Robb in the World Speed Motorsports entry and Max Hanratty of ArmsUp Motorsports.
Franzoni passed Martin through Canada Corner on Lap 3 to retake the lead, and the loss of momentum for Martin left him vulnerable to Lastochkin, who was now edging a second clear of Fischer. Just a lap later, Franzoni’s lead was out to 2.4sec and the Brazilian never looked remotely threatened again.
Meanwhile Lastochkin couldn’t keep the pressure on Martin, but he was doing better than his Pelfrey teammates. Following Cunha’s drop back and pitstop, it was Fischer’s turn to tumble down the order running off the pace, promoting Robb and Hanratty to fourth and fifth, albeit 25sec behind Lastochkin.
Franzoni eventually crossed the finish line 11.7sec ahead of Martin, who had a 5.5sec advantage over Lastochkin. The Russian nonetheless was happy with his first podium finish in Pro Mazda.
Robb, Hanratty and Jeff Green (Juncos) completed the top six.
Cunha was able to climb back up to ninth following his pitstop, but Fischer finished the race in the pits and classified last.
Franzoni will start tomorrow's Pro Mazda race from last on the grid, after encountering red flags on both his qualifying runs today.
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Road America Pro Mazda: Martin wins, Franzoni stars