After three successful seasons of Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda competition, Ayla Agren is ready for the next step on the Mazda Road to Indy, set to compete in Pro Mazda Presented by Cooper Tires in 2018.
Recently, Popular Open Wheel’s Ashley McCubbin caught up with Agren to get her thoughts prior to pre-season testing and the season.
POPULAR OPEN WHEEL: What are your thoughts on moving up to Pro Mazda?
AYLA AGREN: I am really, really excited. I’ve been USF2000 for a couple years now, and it feels right to move up to Pro Mazda if we can do it the right way, which is the way we’re doing it by pre-season testing and being in the right place before the year starts. I can’t wait to try the new car at a test in a couple weeks, and we’ll take it from there.
POW: What are your goals for the upcoming tests?
AA: I think, first of all, is to get comfortable with the car, and then really almost make mistakes – not in a massive mistake, but make mistakes so I can find the limit as soon as possible, and work to being right underneath it so I can push myself to that edge.
POW: What track you’re looking forward to most this season?
AA: That would be Barber or Mid-Ohio as they’re my two favorites, but also driving around Indianapolis at the Grand Prix is always very special, as well. Every track has it’s different personalities, but I would say the three of those are very high on my list.
POW: Being this is going to be your rookie season in Pro Mazda, what are your goals?
AA: I’ve driven a very similar car in USF2000 so like I said, come up to speed early and I know certain things that I have to work with from last year. Most of all take one weekend at a time; do not be result focused, but rather know what we have to work with and what I have to improve upon and the results will come as a consequence as of working hard with it.
POW: What’s the biggest thing you learned in USF2000 to carry into Pro Mazda?
AA: The biggest thing I learned is how stable the car is, and at the end, I started to really trust it and be able to bring that into this season – even with a little bit faster, more downforce, and a few other technical things – but having that trust in the car, that will be the biggest thing to keep going forward.
I know one of my biggest things that I have to work with is getting up to speed as soon as possible, ideally the second lap, and that’s one of the main goals to improve overall, through qualifying, races, and testing. So that is my main focus from what I learned from this year for both car and myself, driving wise.
POW: Where do you see yourself three, five years from now?
AA: I would definitely want to say that I am close to an Indy 500 start. My career is very bottom heavy and I have a lot of experience in feeder series to IndyCar, and with that experience, I would like to think that within five years, if not in IndyCar but very close.
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