ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Young Australian drivers ruled the roost when the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda hosted a pair of races today at Elkhart Lake’s Road America. Anthony Martin, 21, led home countrymen Jordan Lloyd, 20, and Luke Gabin, 21, to complete an impressive 1-2-3 sweep in the opening race this morning, then won again in the afternoon to claim a share of first place in the championship standings with seven races remaining in the 16-race season.
Brazil’s Victor Franzoni and Canadian Parker Thompson joined Martin on the podium in race two of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Road America Presented by Cooper Tires.
The first three laps of this morning’s race were completed behind the Mazda Pace Car following an incident at Turn Five when Yufeng Luo collected Pabst Racing teammate Garth Rickards. The pair had qualified strongly in the fifth and seventh positions.
Martin quickly romped clear at the restart, but countryman Lloyd put his head down and whittled the deficit down to just a couple of car lengths before the caution flags waved once more due to a single-car spin at Turn 14 for Jordan Cane. The final restart came with just a solitary lap remaining. Martin maintained his concentration and his lead before crossing the finish line a little less than one second clear of Lloyd.
Gabin impressed by rising from 10th to sixth on the opening lap, following some difficulties in practice and qualifying. He continued his charge forward to record his third podium finish of the season for JAY Motorsports. Brazilian Victor Franzoni finished close behind for the locally based ArmsUp Motorsports team. Canadian series leader Parker Thompson (Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing) could manage no better than sixth ahead of teammate Nikita Lastochkin, who secured the Staubli Award, and young New Yorker Robert Megennis (Team Pelfrey), who charged from 14th to seventh.
Cape Motorsports continued its winning ways this afternoon as Martin took his fourth win in five starts. Lloyd again proved to be Martin’s closest challenger, posting the fastest lap of the race before succumbing to a mechanical failure with three laps remaining. Franzoni took up the chase to snare his fifth podium finish of the season, some six seconds clear of Thompson.
Norway’s Ayla Agren earned her best result of the season, fourth for John Cummiskey Racing, following an extended battle with English teenager Cane, Gabin and Lastochkin.
Winning team owners Dominic and Nicholas Cape earned two more PFC Awards, while Franzoni and Agren shared the day’s Staubli Awards. California’s Dakota Dickerson also enjoyed a strong day. Last year’s Skip Barber/Mazda scholarship winner won the Tilton Hard Charger Award in both races, rising from 24th on the grid to 12th in Race One and then climbing from 16th to 10th in Race Two.
Teammates Martin and Thompson now share the championship lead on 217 points as the series heads next to the streets of Toronto on July 15-17.
Anthony Martin (#8 Burgess BLA-Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing): “To get four wins in the last five races is really good – the confidence boost really helps. I was a few points behind Parker coming into this weekend and I knew I had my work cut out for me to get back into the championship hunt. This weekend could not have gone any better. The Cape Motorsports guys gave me a great car and the Mazda engines just pushed me through both races. To pull equal with Parker now means there will be some rivalry, but that’s racing! I can’t wait to have some good battles. We’re great mates and we help each other in the truck, to learn what each other is doing so we can improve as fast as we can. We work well together and that’s really encouraging. But, as soon as you put your helmet on, he’s just another competitor. And I love it here at Road America. I like to learn new racetracks and I seem to perform better at new tracks. This is my new favorite racetrack on the calendar!”