JUPITER, Fla. – official series release — Indy Lights photo —
Five Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires teams and eight drivers began the first official test of the brand-new Mazda-powered Dallara IL-15 at Palm Beach Int’l Raceway in Jupiter, Fla. on Tuesday.
After winning the championship in 2014 with Colombian-American rising star Gabby Chaves, Indianapolis-based Belardi Auto Racing will lead the way, fielding one new car for Puerto Rican Felix Serralles, a standout in European Formula 3 competition for the past two years.
“It’s very exciting,” said team owner Brian Belardi. “Andersen Promotions and all their partners, everybody who has been involved in this program including Mazda, Dallara and Cooper Tires, has done a fantastic job putting everything together. It’s exactly what this series needs and I’m sure we’ll see a big jump in numbers. It’s been long overdue and it’s a proper race car. The team is excited and the engineers are excited to get to work on the car and building on the success we had last year.”
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, which has won the championship four times in the past five years, will run a trio of cars for Englishman Jack Harvey, who finished second in the 2014 title-chase, RC Enerson, from New Port Richey, Fla., who is stepping up directly to Indy Lights after finishing a close second in the 2014 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, and Ethan Ringel, from Windermere, Fla.
Juncos Racing, making its return to Indy Lights after a two-year hiatus, will step up with two graduates from the intermediate step on the Mazda Road to Indy, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, with Spencer Pigot, from Orlando, Fla., and Kyle Kaiser, from Santa Clara, Calif.
“I’m really excited to drive the all new Mazda-powered IL-15 this week,” said Pigot, who won the 2014 Pro Mazda championship in impressive style, winning six races for Juncos Racing. “We’ve been working hard on the car over the past few months and everyone is ready to get back to the track. It’s going to be a big jump from Pro Mazda for myself and the team. Everything on the car is so different but Palm Beach is a track we’re all familiar with and I think that will help us get up to speed quickly.”
Two more Mazda Road to Indy graduates, Shelby Blackstock and Scott Hargrove, also are making the step up to Indy Lights after successful campaigns in both USF2000 and Pro Mazda. Blackstock, from Nashville, Tenn., will continue to drive for Andretti Autosport, while Hargrove, from Vancouver, B.C., Canada, the 2013 USF2000 champion and runner-up finisher in last year’s Pro Mazda series, is testing with 8Star Motorsports which this year will be making its debut on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder after gaining significant success in the sports car ranks.
CREDIT: Indy Lights