LEXINGTON, Ohio – Louis Foster, from Basingstoke, England, extended his lead in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires with a dominant drive in Race One this morning for Exclusive Autosport in the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio. Later in the afternoon, reigning Cooper Tires USF2000 Champion Kiko Porto, of Recife, Brazil, claimed his maiden win for DEForce Racing in a pressure-filled Race Two.
Mexico’s Salvador De Alba (Jay Howard Driver Development) finished a distant second in the opening race, narrowly ahead of Nolan Siegel (DEForce Racing), from Palo Alto, Calif.
Yuven Sundaramoorthy, from Delafield, Wis., put a string of disappointing recent results firmly behind him in the second race with a measured drive to third for Pabst Racing.
Foster enjoyed the perfect start to his weekend by snaring the Cooper Tires Pole Awards for both races during a pair of qualifying sessions on Friday. After a brief early caution period following a couple of incidents on the opening lap of the first race this morning, the 19-year-old Briton took off like a scalded cat, pulling away from his pursuers at better than a half-second per lap. His advantage was immediately nullified following a second, even more brief, full-course caution after nine laps, but Foster quickly reasserted himself at the restart and romped to a thoroughly dominant victory, his fourth of the season. Foster’s final margin of victory after 30 laps was a whopping 14.5615 seconds.
De Alba continued his impressive first season of open-wheel racing by vaulting from fifth on the grid to second during the opening stages. The former stock car driver then drove a beautifully judged defensive race for the Jay Howard Driver Development team as he held off persistent challenges from Siegel, the early season points leader, and DEForce Racing teammate Porto. The Brazilian equaled his best result of the season to date by finishing fourth ahead of Josh Green (Turn 3 Motorsport), from Mount Kisco, N.Y.
Pakistan’s Enaam Ahmed overcame a disappointing run in qualifying to rise from 10th on the grid to sixth ahead of Juncos Hollinger Racing teammate Reece Gold, from Miami, Fla., while local driver Braden Eves (Jay Howard Driver Development), from New Albany, Ohio, bounced back from a fuel pump issue in qualifying to rise from dead last on the grid to eighth. Eves picked up the Tilton Hard Charger Award for his efforts.
As polesitter, Foster was hoping for a repeat of his dominant drive earlier in the day but Porto, who started second, thwarted that plan by passing Foster just a few turns after the green flag. Foster maintained steady pressure on the young Brazilian throughout the 25-lap finale – never falling further than a few tenths of a second in arrears – but Porto never put a foot wrong as he held on to secure his maiden Indy Pro 2000 victory.
It soon became a two-driver fight at the front while Sundaramoorthy toured comfortably in third. Gold, who started fourth, struggled after flat spotting a tire which opened the door to Ahmed to slot into the position. After starting ninth, De Alba also took advantage of Gold’s woes to round out the top five, which was enough to claim his fifth Tilton Hard Charger Award of the season.
Michael Duncalfe (Exclusive Autosport) and DEForce Racing’s Ernesto and David Martinez shared the two PFC Awards as the winning car owners.
Juncos Hollinger Racing holds a slender 10-point edge in the Team Championship, 250-240, with DEForce Racing only a dozen points adrift in third with six races remaining.
The Indy Pro 2000 Championship contenders will reconvene in two weeks’ time for two street course races just a few miles from downtown Toronto, Ont., Canada as the famed Toronto Indy returns to the racing calendar for the first time since 2019.
Provisional championship points after 12 of 18 rounds:
1. Louis Foster, 282
2. Reece Gold, 233
3. Nolan Siegel, 227
4. Enaam Ahmed, 218
5. Braden Eves, 209
6. Josh Green, 209
7. Kiko Porto, 195
8. Salvador De Alba, 192
9. Jack William Miller, 166
10. Yuven Sundaramoorthy, 158.
Louis Foster (#90 Copart.com/Novara Technologies-Exclusive Autosport Tatuus PM-22): “It was obviously a good race. The plan from the start was to lead into Turn One, Turn Two, and as long as I was in the lead by Turn Four, I knew I could hopefully make a gap. We always seem to have good race pace and today was further proof of that. The car was fantastic and I was able to keep pushing and keep my tires alive throughout the race so the car I was given today was amazing, so thank you to Exclusive for that. It was a little bit lonely but sometimes the loneliest races are the best races – out front alone and hopefully winning in the end.”
Salvador De Alba (#6 Group Indi/Mecano/Sidral Aga-Jay Howard Driver Development Tatuus PM-22): “It was a very good race. It was a perfect start for the #6 car. We wanted to be fast and we are working on it and the results are coming. We are aiming for our first (on-the-road) win hopefully soon. I would like to thank everyone that came here to support me and also the team. We are hoping to get another podium in the next race today.”
Nolan Siegel (#8 Towne Ford/Race for RP-DEForce Racing Tatuus PM-22): “It was a difficult race for me. It is really hard to pass here and, unfortunately, I lost a spot on one of the restarts and from there, if the person in front doesn’t make any mistakes, it is just almost impossible to pass, and Salvador didn’t make any mistakes. It was a little bit of a boring race but, in the end, a podium is still a great result for myself and the team.”
Kiko Porto (#1 Banco Daycoval/Petromega-DEForce Racing Tatuus PM-22): “What a good race, and it’s amazing to be back here on the podium in Mid-Ohio, back to victory lane. I’m so happy. I’m super pleased with what me and the team have been doing all year long. We had a difficult start to the season, but right now we are back and we’ve been working so hard. I hope that we can stay in this situation, fighting for podiums, fighting for victories. I want to say thank to the team for still believing in me, and for still working so hard. We have more races still to go and I hope to have more races battling for the podium, and achieving this kind of result.”
Louis Foster (#90 Copart.com/Novara Technologies-Exclusive Autosport Tatuus PM-22): “It obviously wasn’t what we wanted. We got driven around the outside of Turn One, which was unfortunate. From there on, I had the pace. I don’t know, I just couldn’t get past Kiko. I’m obviously a little bit disappointed to not finish first. We had the pace and I think we should have had one realistically, but I just couldn’t get past. The positive for day is that my championship rivals finished further back, so I can’t complain really. Of course, I wanted to win, I think anyone would have. I tried my best and Kiko ran a good race, so I can’t complain. Big thanks to Copart and Exclusive Autosport for everything they do.”
Yuven Sundaramoorthy (#18 S Team Motorsports-Locks-Pabst Racing Tatuus PM-22): “It was a good race and I’m definitely happy to be up here on the podium. I knew from the start that Louis had a fast car and if he was in the front that he’ll be able to pull away. Kiko got a good jump, so I knew I could stick with them for a bit. I ended up falling back and getting into a battle with Reece there at the end. I’m glad to hold on and it was definitely one of the harder races that I’ve had.”
Categories: Race Recap, Road to Indy
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