Indy GP Pro Mazda: Franzoni stumbles, then scores first win
He didn’t make it easy for himself, but Victor Franzoni eventually nailed his first victory in Pro Mazda, defeating championship leader Anthony Martin in the series' first race of the weekend on the IMS road course.
Polesitter Franzoni got jumped at the start by not only Martin’s Cape Motorsports car, but also the Pelfrey cars of TJ Fischer and Nikita Lastochkin. Although Franzoni had recovered to take second by the end of the back straight on that opening lap, he crossed the start/finish line 0.9sec adrift of the championship leader Martin.
The reigning USF2000 champ had struggled to get within half a second of the Juncos driver in testing and practice, so predictably, the Cape driver’s lead was slashed over the next two laps, but the long corner onto the front straight was causing too much dirty air for the pursuer.
Finally, Franzoni got within drafting range of Martin, and for two laps, all around the 2.439-mile course, the pair had an exciting but beautifully executed duel, frequently running alongside each other but giving each other racing room. However, once Franzoni was back in front after an outbraking maneuver at Turn 1, he managed to break the tow and pull away to a 2.3sec lead.
That should have been game over, but the Brazilian made a mistake on Lap 10, and saw his lead fall to under 0.9sec. However, he got his head together and started pulling away once more, eventually winning by five seconds.
The three-way Pelfrey battle between Fischer, Lastochkin and Carlos Cunha looked closer and more alarming until Fischer re-established himself in third, but he had nothing for the two cars ahead. Lastochkin lost fourth to Cunha, and then also had Phillippe Denes in the World Speed Motorsports car pass him for fifth on Lap 10. Fischer, meanwhile, crossed the line just under a second ahead of Cunha.
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