Just a week before St. Petersburg, it was announced Juncos Racing would be participating in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Mazda series with Victor Franzoni as one of two drivers. Despite late notice, the Brazilian scored a pair of runner-ups to kick off the season.
“St. Pete was okay in the end,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “The car was really fast. The thing that was good was that we were really close to Anthony (Martin). We had a good car and a good weekend. We were close, and we were faster than he was. St. Pete is difficult to pass so race 1 and 2, I couldn’t do too much. In the end, it was good. It was great working with Juncos.”
St. Petersburg wasn’t Franzoni’s first start in Pro Mazda, as he ran the second half of 2015 before returning to the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda for 2016. In those 10 races, he scored six top-10s with a best finish of fourth. Switching between the two divisions, Franzoni says there isn’t much difference between cars.
“The speed in the straightaway you don’t feel that too much; it’s more in the turns you can feel that,” he said. “The Pro Mazda is faster in the turns so you can brake a little bit later and can relive the brake and carry more speed through the turn. But it’s not a big difference – kind of almost the same.”
The runner-ups will remain on his mind a while, as the shortened schedule for 2017 won’t see him race again till Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May.
“I think that one we’re going to be really, really strong because the first test that I did with Juncos was there, and the car was really fast,” he said. “Everything was really good there. It’s a track that I like a lot, so I think we’ll be really fast there. I think that’ll be a good track for us.”
With time off, the team can prepare more and work towards the goals set out by Franzoni.
“I have to win so I can get the scholarship and then go to Indy Lights,” he said. “I think it’s possible. I think Juncos is really good. They’re going to give me a good car the whole season so I think it depends a lot on me now to put everything together and make a really good season without too many mistakes so we can win the championship. That’s the goal for this year, and then after that, it happens, go to Indy Lights and then hopefully IndyCar.”
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