New Tatuus Chassis’ Make Their Public Debut
in Indy Pro 2000 and USF2000
PALMETTO, Fla. – A new season of the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires will burst into life early next week in Florida with the annual “Spring Training” sessions at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The two-day test on Monday and Tuesday, February 14-15, will see the official debut of a new Tatuus chassis in both the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship. The cars will make their competition bow at the opening races of the season a few hundred miles to the north as part of the St. Petersburg Grand Prix later this month.
The Tatuus IP-22 and USF-22 upgrades include a new, wider monocoque with the addition of a Halo-type device as well as new sidepods, underfloor, engine cover, air ducts, damper covers and fuel cell, extending the competition life of each until at least 2026.
Spring Training will commence on Sunday, February 13, with orientations and presentations for USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 drivers. On-track activities will begin on Monday with four sessions totaling three hours in duration for USF2000. Indy Pro 2000 competitors will take to the 2.21-mile, 14-turn road course for a total of five sessions on both Monday and Tuesday. The new USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires will join Indy Pro 2000 on Tuesday as part of the YACademy Winter Series.
Eves Returns for Another Indy Pro 2000 Title Challenge
Braden Eves has a singular goal in 2022: to win the Indy Pro 2000 Championship. The now 22-year-old from New Albany, Ohio, has endured somewhat of a roller-coaster ride since claiming the USF2000 championship in 2019. His rookie campaign in 2020 ended prematurely due to an injury sustained in a crash on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, while last year, after a strong start which saw him win two of the first three races, Eves lost some momentum in the middle part of the season and had to give second best in the title-chase to Denmark’s Christian Rasmussen.
For 2022, Eves has rejoined the Jay Howard Driver Development team which first guided him into the car racing ranks in 2017 after a stellar karting career… and which also led Rasmussen to top honors last season.
Wyatt Brichacek, from Johnstown, Colo., will return for a second year with the team owned by former USF2000 and Indy Lights championship winning driver Jay Howard.
Eves will face an array of talented challengers in his quest for a scholarship valued at $614,425 to advance to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the top level of the Road to Indy, in 2023, including Juncos Hollinger Racing teammates Reece Gold, from Miami, Fla., and Enaam Ahmed, from London, England.
Gold, 17, earned a long overdue maiden Road to Indy victory last year at New Jersey Motorsports Park, as well as a series high five pole positions. Former British Formula 3 Champion Ahmed, 22, competed in only half of the 18 races in 2021, his first foray in North America, but underlined his capabilities with a second-place finish in the season finale with Juncos Hollinger Racing.
Also from the UK, 18-year-old Louis Foster is another driver with impressive credentials. After finishing second in the 2021 EuroFormula Open Championship, Foster joined the Exclusive Autosport team for the traditional Chris Griffis Memorial Test at the end of the year and posted the fastest time of all. He will be joined at Exclusive Autosport, which won the coveted Team Championship in 2021, by Christian Brooks, from Santa Clarita, Calif., who is stepping up with the team after winning races in USF2000.
Englishman Matt Round-Garrido will drive a third Exclusive Autosport Tatuus IP-22.
After winning races in 2021, Turn 3 Motorsport and Pabst Racing also boast strong driver lineups. Josh Green, from Mount Kisco, N.Y., steps up to Indy Pro 2000 after winning his final USF2000 race for Peter Dempsey’s ambitious Turn 3 Motorsport organization. He will be joined by Ireland’s Jonathan Browne, a former British Formula Ford Festival champion who will be making his North American debut.
Pabst Racing will field three new cars for team veteran Colin Kaminsky, from Homer Glen, Ill., Yuven Sundaramoorthy, from Delafield, Wis., who won four USF2000 races in 2021, and Jordan Missig, from Channahon, Ill., who has raced previously in Formula Regional Americas and the IMSA Lamborghini Super Trofeo series.
DEForce Racing also returns to the Indy Pro 2000 fray with a two-car team headed by Brazil’s Kiko Porto, 18, whose victory in last year’s USF2000 championship earned him a scholarship valued at more than $406,000 to progress onto the next level of the Road to Indy this season. Porto will be joined by fellow teenager Nolan Siegel, from Palo Alto, Calif., who scored a win, a pole position and two fastest race laps last season in USF2000.
Second-generation racer Jack William Miller, from Carmel, Ind., will complete the field for Miller Vinatieri Motorsports after earning a best finish of fourth in 2021.
Cape’s d’Orlando Favored Among USF2000 Field
Nine drivers representing six different teams took turns in stepping onto the top step of the podium during the 2021 USF2000 season before Kiko Porto, from Recife, Brazil, imposed himself and ended up a deserving champion for DEForce Racing, which also took home its first Team Championship.
The Texas-based organization will begin its title defense with three drivers who all have previous experience with different teams, although only one, Thomas Nepveu, from Oka, Que., Canada, has tasted the fruits of success. Nepveu, 16, who won at Road America last year, will be joined by fellow veterans Dylan Christie, from Princeton, N.J., and Bijoy Garg, from Atherton, Calif.
Arguably the strongest lineup has been assembled by Cape Motorsports, which claimed nine consecutive driver championships – and no fewer than 80 race wins – between 2011 and 2019, and has every intention of adding to its title collection. Michael d’Orlando, 19, from Hartsdale, N.Y., will lead the team after finishing as series runner-up in 2021 and rounding out his campaign with four consecutive pole positions to accompany his three race wins earlier in the year.
D’Orlando will be joined by second-year USF2000 racer Jackson Lee, from Avon, Ind., and highly rated rookies Nicky Hays, from Huntington Beach, Calif., and Jagger Jones, son of racing veteran PJ Jones and grandson of 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones.
Perennial challengers Pabst Racing will field a pair of new Tatuus USF-22s for Jace Denmark and Myles Rowe. Denmark, from Scottsdale, Ariz., secured a podium finish for the team at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park during his rookie season, while Rowe, from New York, N.Y., scored a spectacular last-gasp win in tricky, drying conditions for the Force Indy team at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
Last year’s Rookie of the Year, Spike Kohlbecker, 20, from St. Louis, Mo., has maintained his connection with Ignite Autosport while joining forces with Turn 3 Motorsport. Kohlbecker will line up alongside 14-year-old Christian Weir, from Naperville, Ill., who dipped his toe in the water last year by competing in the final eight races and earning a trio of top-10 results.
A pair of new Zealanders will team up together at Exclusive Autosport, with Billy Frazer, who enjoyed a best finish of fifth last year in St. Petersburg, joined by rookie and fellow teenager Jacob Douglas. Both earned excellent results in Formula Ford before setting their sights on a career in North America.
Former series champion Jay Howard, who guided Christian Rasmussen to the USF2000 championship in 2020 (as well as the Indy Pro 2000 crown last year), returns with a three-car team comprising former F4 drivers Frederik Lund, from Managua, Nicaragua, Yeoroo Lee, from Paramus, N.J., and a third driver yet to be announced.
Singleton entries from Joe Dooling Autosports, for returning driver Trey Burke, from Alvin, Texas, and Velocity Racing Development for Sweden’s Viktor Andersson complete what promises to be an extremely competitive field.
Timing and scoring can be found on the Road to Indy TV App and the respective series websites at indypro2000.com and usf2000.com.
Categories: Road to Indy
Leave a Reply