Reigning USF2000 champions carry momentum of 2016 title run into second rung of the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires
ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – Even though they are a one-car Pro Mazda effort this year with just a single stream of set-up data, Cape Motorsports and their driver Anthony Martin didn’t let that affect their performance in the opening rounds of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.
Last year’s USF2000 champion was the dominant driver at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg this past weekend, handling both the competition and the 1.8-mile / 14-turn temporary street and airport runway circuit with relative ease. Martin swept the weekend in his #8 Cape Motorsports ‘Soul Red’ Mazda-backed machine, topping four of the five on-track sessions from qualifying through to the final event of the weekend on Sunday afternoon.
Martin left the Gulf Coast city with a 16-point lead in the championship standings. It was a special weekend for the St. Petersburg-based Cape Motorsports operation as well, winning in both Pro Mazda and USF2000, in their home race.
“It was an awesome weekend for Anthony and the whole team,” offered Nicholas and Dominic Cape. “It was a total team effort. Everyone is working towards one common goal, and it was a great way to start the season at our home GP. As a team, we must keep our feet firmly on the ground. There is a long way to go and it will be very difficult when you’re fighting against quality teams and drivers.”
Martin and Cape Motorsports teamed up in 2016 to win the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, securing both the Driver and Team Championships, and the winner of the MRTI scholarship began his season as a Mazda driver by sitting second on the time sheets after the only practice session of the weekend on Friday morning. Martin turned things up in the two separate qualifying sessions, held on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, outgunning Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni for the pole for both Race #1 and Race #2, taking the bonus points that come with leading the field in qualifying.
In the opening race on Saturday, which went green to checker, Martin controlled the green flag start and maintained a small gap to Franzoni for the entire race, never putting a wheel wrong. He would cross the line with a 0.5084-second advantage at the end of the 30-minute timed event, taking the win in his first ever Pro Mazda Championship race.
Race #2 was more of the same, although the extended 40-minute distance was slowed by a lap 22 caution that bunched up the field and gave Martin’s competition one more shot at getting by Anthony for the win. Martin nailed the restart and proceeded to extend his lead for the final eight laps to win by 1.0259 seconds at the checkered flag, completing his sweep of the available points. Martin left St. Petersburg with 66 points and a healthy 16-point lead over Franzoni.
DRIVER PERFORMANCE / QUOTES
PRO MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP PRESENTED BY COOPER TIRES
ROUND #1 – MARCH 10-12, 2017
GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG – ST. PETERSBURG, FL
ANTHONY MARTIN – PRO MAZDA #8
Qualifying 1: 1st – 1:13.6718
Qualifying 2: 1st – 1:13.5689
Race 1: 1st (+0.5084 seconds)
Race 2: 1st (+1.0259 seconds)
Driver Quote: “This weekend was truly the perfect outing for not only myself, but everyone involved in getting me out there. Cape Motorsports squeezed everything out of the Soul Red Mazda and it felt great all weekend. I knew it would be close with Victor in the races and I just had to focus on minimizing any mistakes and hitting all my marks. Having good starts and getting out front early meant that I could manage my Cooper tires throughout the race and be fast when it counted at the end. I can’t thank the Cape Motorsport crew enough. As a team, with Oliver’s debut win in USF2000, and my two wins in Pro Mazda, it meant a lot for everyone and we can’t wait for the next race!”