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Mar 25, 2014 - 02:05 PM
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Locally-Based Team Pelfrey Set For St. Petersburg Pro Mazda Season Opener
Posted by: newsla on Mar 25, 2014 - 02:01 PM
Support Series News
Locally-Based Team Pelfrey Set For St. Petersburg Pro Mazda Season Opener


Team Pelfrey will close out a hectic off-season this week by traveling the short distance from its new base in Palmetto to the streets of St. Petersburg where its talented, multi-national, three-driver lineup will chase victory in the opening two races of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.

 

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Luis Felipe “Pipo” Derani, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Dalton Kellett, from Stouffville, Ont., Canada and Brandon Newey, from Indianapolis, Ind., are all expected to challenge for honors on the demanding and unforgiving 1.8-mile downtown street circuit. The venue will play host to all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy (Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000) in addition to the headline Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – the opening round of the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Derani, 20, is making the move to North America after achieving success in Formula 3 in Europe during recent seasons, while both Kellett, also 20, and Newey, 21, are stepping up from the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Team Pelfrey has undergone much change over the winter as it seeks to recapture the form which enabled Englishman Jack Hawksworth to dominate the 2012 Pro Mazda championship with eight wins and 11 pole positions. Hawksworth will this year graduate into the IndyCar Series with 2011 Indy 500-winning team Bryan Herta Autosport.
In addition to a recent move across Tampa Bay to the Andersen RacePark facility in Palmetto, Team Pelfrey has been bolstered by the addition of veteran IndyCar crew chief Roy Wilkerson and experienced driver-turned-race engineer Joe D’Agostino.

The team has conducted extensive preseason testing at a variety of tracks in Florida, George and Texas. The drivers also performed well at the recent four-race Cooper Tires Winterfest at NOLA Motorsports Park and Barber Motorsports Park, highlighted by a pair of podium finishes for Pro Mazda debutant Derani.

“Our recent testing has been very encouraging as we found some fundamental problems with components on the cars that, when corrected, produced a significant increase in performance,” declared Team Pelfrey Team Manager Nigel Tuckey. “Obviously, having made these discoveries, we are excited to get back on track to not only see how we stack up against our competitors at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg but also as it is always extra-special to perform in front of our hometown fans who have been so supportive of our team and drivers.”

The weekend’s activities will commence on Friday, March 28, with a pair of half-hour practice sessions at 8:35 a.m. and 3:35 p.m. Qualifying will take pace on Saturday at 11:45 a.m., followed at 5:35 p.m. by the first of two 40-minute races which will comprise the Allied Building Products Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The green flag for Race 2 on Sunday will fly at 10:30 a.m. Live timing and commentary for all sessions will be available at www.promazdachampionship.com.

WHAT THE DRIVERS SAID:
Dalton Kellett (#80 Team Pelfrey/K-Line Insulators USA, Inc./Gap Guard): “I am very excited. St. Pete is always a great event. The location and the fans are amazing! My focus for the first race of the season is to drive at my highest level and to secure a good start to the championship. As with all street courses, seat time is limited so I think having previous experience at St. Pete will be very helpful.”

Pipo Derani (#81 Team Pelfrey/Alan Lewis Consulting/Gap Guard): “The Mazda Road to Indy initiative is just GREAT. I think, for me, just by crossing the Atlantic speaks for itself. Competing in the Verizon IndyCar Series is a dream that I am totally dedicated to achieve in the next two years, and for that I have to say I am very happy and fortunate to have Alan Lewis as a sponsor. Without him this for sure wouldn’t have been possible and I will do my best to give him and his company the top spot on the podium. IndyCar is growing so much internationally. It’s a good market for drivers who want to make a living out of racing like me and it's where I want to be. I will do all I can to make sure I have a chance to show my potential to a top team. It all starts this weekend in St. Pete. I'm excited.”

Brandon Newey (#82 Team Pelfrey/Mygale Race Cars/Gap Guard): “I'm extremely excited to finally get this season kicked off in St. Pete. The team has really been working hard all winter to put us in the best possible position for the first race of the season. Even though I am a rookie I fully expect to be up at the pointy end of the grid, and I think my experience from the USF2000 races there last year will definitely help me achieve that.”

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