Indianapolis, Ind. - Come wet conditions or dry, Frenchman Nico Jamin has his rivals in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda covered just now. Two weeks after putting on a driving clinic in atrocious conditions at Barber Motorsports Park, the 19-year-old Frenchman showed he's just as adept in the dry, qualifying his Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing Van Diemen-Mazda on the pole this morning at the Indianapolis Grand Prix Circuit and then winning a thrill-a-minute race this afternoon.
Jamin cemented the victory with a last-lap pass of series leader Jake Eidson, who had to be content with second for Pabst Racing. Jamin's teammate, Aaron Telitz, completed the podium after leading for much of the 30-minute race.
Today's first of two races that will comprise the Mazda USF2000 Grand Prix of Indianapolis was held in sweltering conditions. It took a while to get going due to a first-corner incident just behind the leaders, but the restart saw Telitz pull off a bold outside-line pass under braking for Turn One. Jamin's efforts to maintain his advantage succeeded only in allowing Eidson to slip through into second.
Telitz took advantage of the battle behind him to post the fastest laps of the race and pull out a clear lead before the yellow flags waved again following a midfield incident on Lap 12. By then, Jamin had found a way past Eidson into second, and the advent of the Pace Car enabled him to close onto the tail of teammate Telitz.
The leaders ran three-wide on the approach to Turn One at the restart, with five minutes remaining, whereupon Telitz left his braking a fraction too late, causing him to slide wide onto the grass at the exit.
Eidson also grasped the opportunity to slip past Jamin, but the Frenchman wasn't done. He edged closer to Eidson over the next three laps and was perfectly placed to pounce when Eidson ran a little too deep into Turn One on the final lap and slid wide.
Telitz drove well to make up for his earlier error, passing Australian rookies Luke Gabin (Team Pelfrey) and Anthony Martin (John Cummiskey Racing) on successive laps to clamber back to third. Martin finished fourth ahead of Gabin, who enjoyed his best result since winning last year's Skip Barber Racing Championship Shootout, as well as a MAZDASPEED Scholarship, while a mistake from Garth Rickards (Team Pelfrey) at Turn One on the final lap allowed teammate Ayla Agren, last year's F1600 Championship Series champion, to claim her best result to date in sixth.
Augie Lerch (JAY Motorsports) secured the Tilton Hard Charger Award, advancing five positions to 10th from 15th on the starting grid. The RePlay XD Move of the Race Award went to Jamin for his pass of Eidson for second. Other contingency awards included the PFC Award to the winning car owners, Dominic and Nicholas Cape, while the Staubli Award went to Gabin.
Round 8 of the 16-race Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda will take place tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. Live timing and commentary will be available on the new Mazda Road to Indy App and at usf2000.com.