Fischer, Askew top Mazda Road To Indy test on Day 1
MRTI’s first day of testing on Miami Homestead Speedway’s road course saw Team Pelfrey and Cape Motorsports maintain their preeminence in Pro Mazda and USF2000 respectively, the latter despite a change in spec chassis.
Fischer and new Pelfrey teammate Nikita Lastochkin, whose ride was only confirmed this morning, ended the day just 0.03sec apart on the timesheets, with their teammate Carlos Cunha only 0.15sec further back.
Said Fischer: “We were constantly working at it today, pushing the whole time because everyone is going to be quick in this field. We worked a lot on brake zones and making sure everything is there, rather than being quick on one part of the track but losing time somewhere else.
"We did qualifying runs and race runs so we had the whole spectrum. There’s still a ton for me to learn – how to manage the car, how to manage the tires. It’s night and day compared to last year. Being in just one series this year is good: I can build a foundation and use this as a springboard."
Lastochkin commented: "I was a little concerned going into today because I’d never even sat in the car before. To be able to do some good times gives me a lot of confidence.
"The morning was great but I got a little tired by the end of the day because the car is a lot more physical than the USF2000 car. It has more downforce and more grip and it’s more lively to drive. To be honest, I’m a bit overwhelmed after the first day, but I couldn’t be happier to be back at Team Pelfrey."
Nearest challenger was reigning USF2000 champion, Australia’s Anthony Martin, who has remained with Cape Motorsports while graduating.
1 TJ Fischer Team Pelfrey 1min24.4417sec 85 laps
2 Nikita Lastochkin Team Pelfrey 1:24.4710 75
3 Carlos Cunha Team Pelfrey 1:24.6217 60
4 Anthony Martin Cape Motorsports 1:24.6523 74
5 Bobby Eberle World Speed Motorsports 1:25.7415 88
6 Sting Ray Robb World Speed Motorsports 1:26.0877 83
7 Jeff Green Green Racing 1:26.8749 89
The new Tatuus USF-17 Mazda has seen a welcome burst of speed for the series, with the fastest USF2000 car today setting a time that would have been third on the Pro Mazda timesheets, as the latter series awaits the arrival of its new Tatuus PM-18 Mazda in 2018.
That P1 time came from Cape Motorsports’ new recruit, Oliver Askew, the karting ace, Team USA Scholarship winner and also winner of the inaugural Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200K Scholarship Shootout. He set a time 0.05sec ahead of Newman Wachs Racing’s Rinus VeeKay, another kart graduate.
Said Askew: "I came here with a question mark over how we stack up against the rest, so I’m really happy. We’ve tested four or five times and the car has been fantastic: this just solidifies that. We’ve worked on qualifying runs, because the balance changes so much depending on the tires, and we’ve worked on the car in traffic. We’re making changes every session, so we’ll keep working on that tomorrow.”
VeeKay added: “It was a very good day, being in the top three in every session. I think if we can put everything together tomorrow we can be ready to earn pole positions this season. It’s been good learning the new car; after a couple of tests, I knew where the car was going. We’ve been working on balance in the corners and in the mid points.”
Series returnee Robert Megennis was third for Team Pelfrey which, like NWR, had two cars in the top six and three in the Top 10. Parker Thompson, last year’s series runner-up in the title race, led new USF2000 squad Exclusive Autosport into the top 10 with P7, half a second off top spot.
1 Oliver Askew Cape Motorsports 1min24.5618sec 70 laps
2 Rinus VeeKay Newman Wachs Racing 1:24.6115 80
3 Robert Megennis Team Pelfrey 1:24.6747 72
4 Kaylen Frederick Team Pelfrey 1:24.7120 74
5 Calvin Ming Pabst Racing 1:25.0063 76
6 Andre Castro Newman Wachs Racing 1:25.0143 74
7 Parker Thompson Exclusive Autosport 1:25.0434 61
8 Kyle Kirkwood Benik 1:25.1861 63
9 Ayla Agren Team Pelfrey 1:25.2027 76
10 Dakota Dickerson Newman Wachs Racing 1:25.2684 78
11 Victor Franzoni ArmsUp Motorsports 1:25.4223 67
12 Lucas Kohl Pabst Racing 1:25.5082 80
13 Ricky Donison Cape Motorsports 1:25.7700 75
14 Moises de la Vara DEForce Racing 1:25.8551 69
15 Luke Gabin Exclusive Autosport 1:25.8691 67
16 Kory Enders DEForce Racing 1:26.0052 68
17 Kris Wright John Cummiskey Racing 1:26.2422 79
18 Devin Wojcik ArmsUp Motorsports 1:26.7343 67
19 Chandler Horton RJB Motorsports 1:27.6382 76
20 Dev Gore Exclusive Autosport 1:27.6473 37
21 Bruna Tomaselli* ArmsUp Motorsports 1:29.3980 79
* Ran the old Van Diemen
Lastochkin lands Pelfrey's final Pro Mazda ride
USF2000 champion Martin sticks with Cape for Pro Mazda move