Juncos Racing’s reigning Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni topped the Indy Lights test at Road America with David Malukas heading the Pro Mazda field for BN Racing and Kaylen Frederick of Pabst Racing leading his USF2000 rivals.
Franzoni, who lies fourth in the Indy Lights championship set a 1:52.7325, an average speed of 128.183 mph around the 4.014-mile course, and said the team’s pace in May at the IMS road course and on the oval had brought the team confidence.
“The test was really good,” said Franzoni. “We’re improving every time we go to the track and, here, we started super-fast and just kept getting better. This is the first time I’ve tested the Indy Lights car at Road America and, really, everything is different from the Pro Mazda car: the braking points are later, the speed is way faster, it’s better in everything! It took a few laps to get used to it.
“We were super-fast at the Freedom 100 and just had bad luck. We gained a lot of confidence last month and we are bringing that here, especially since this is the kind of track I really like. We’re working on a car that’s fast and really suits me well, so I’m very confident going into the race. If we continue this way, we’ll be really strong on the race weekend.”
Patricio “Pato” O’Ward, who won three of the first four races this season for Andretti Autosport, was less than a tenth slower at 1:52.8097 followed by teammate Ryan Norman, Belardi Auto Racing’s Santiago Urrutia and Wisconsin native Aaron Telitz, and championship leader Colton Herta of Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing.
The new-for-2018 Tatuus-Mazda PM-18 proved its big speed increase over the previous-gen Pro Mazda car when David Malukas’ 2:00.3640 on Tuesday morning eclipsed the series’ existing qualifying lap record – set by Adrian Carrio 12 years ago – by 3.5seconds.
“It’s good to get to a track that we’ve already been to, since we know the basic setup as a reference,” said 17-year-old Malukas. “Obviously, it’s a lot quicker in the Pro Mazda car than the USF-17 [USF2000 car] With the added downforce, the car is more stable. We’ve made a lot of changes in the car so we’re really happy with this test and the amount of information we’ve gained.
“And it feels good to come back here; it’s one of my favorite tracks even though I only raced here last year in USF2000. My dad raced here when I was a kid; I came here a lot and have a lot of good memories.”
Dutchman Rinus VeeKay, who won both USF2000 races at Road America last year, was second fastest for Juncos Racing, 0.15sec in arrears, ahead of points leader Parker Thompson (Exclusive Autosport), Andres Gutierrez (Team Pelfrey) and Harrison Scott (RP Motorsport Racing)
Kaylen Frederick, who finished fourth in the USF2000 championship in his rookie year, put Pabst Racing on top of the USF2000 times with a 2:09.3357, narrowly edging another series sophomore and teammate Lucas Kohl.
“We spent Monday figuring everything out and getting the setup right,” said 16-year-old Frederick. “I was struggling with a few areas, like getting the braking zones down and where in the corners I should be rolling in with more speed. We worked through those last night, looking at the data and video, figuring out what to change. We executed changes this morning and I had the quickest times in both sessions today, so I’m really happy about that.
Championship leader Kyle Kirkwood topped the charts for Cape Motorsports in the opening session on Monday and despite opting not to run when almost all the fastest times were set on Tuesday morning still wound up less than a tenth behind Frederick in the afternoon’s final 90-minute run. Kory Enders was fourth fastest for DEForce Racing.