After success in the lower-tiers on the Road to Indy, Exclusive Autosport will make the jump up to Indy Lights competition with Nikita Lastochkin behind the wheel.
Following his sixth-place finish in the Indy Pro 2000 standings last year, POPULAR OPEN WHEEL was able to catch up with him for a conversation.
POPULAR OPEN WHEEL: What are your thoughts going into the season?
NIKITA LASTOCHKIN: My thoughts are just really happy to be able to drive an Indy Lights car. It’s something that me and Michael Duncalfe were able to work out together, as I was driving his Indy Pro (2000 car). It’s a brand new team, but Michael was able to put together a group of very good people – some people have a lot of experience, some people are new faces but eager to get good results. I’m just excited to get make the step-up with Exclusive Autosport.
POW: You got the chance to test the Indy Lights car not long ago. How did that go?
NIKITA: It went very well. When we were on the same tire program as everybody else, we were able to post some competitive lap times and the car itself is amazing. It has a lot of power, a lot of downforce; it’s a different driving style to the Indy Pro car, and I think it probably suits me a little bit better.
POW: What are your goals and expectations entering the season?
NIKITA: My goals are just to try and go and make the most out of this opportunity for myself. Hopefully we can be running up front in Indy Lights, and just take it one step at a time and see where we’re able to go.
POW: What track are you most looking forward to?
NIKITA: From the tracks that we have lined up on the schedule, I’d probably say Laguna Seca. It’s one of my favorite tracks to go to, so that’s hopefully where we’re in the hunt for the championship. I can’t wait to see where we’ll be at by the time we get there.
POW: What are your thoughts on last season in Indy Pro 2000?
NIKITA: It was a lot of ups and downs. I would say we showed quite a lot of speed coming into the weekend, but unfortunately we had to seem to have quite a bit of bad luck last time. We’d start the weekend strong, and quite a few times, we had some mechanical issues and things did not necessarily go to plan. I would say that I learned a lot from the last two years in Indy Pro, but I’m excited to move up to Indy Lights and turn a page and start a fresh.
POW: Someone comes up to you, gives you $5 million to build the race track of your dreams. What type of track are you building?
NIKITA: I would like to build a track a lot of elevation in it. So I really like race tracks that have natural terrain being a factor, so say Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen, Barber Motorsports Park – they’re all really fun tracks. I’m not a fan of flat surface types of tracks because they seem to lack a bit of character. So if I was to build a track, it’d have a lot of elevation, somewhere pretty, and hopefully somewhere in Southern California; a major FIA grade race track in Southern California would be ideal.
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