Donison makes first trip to USF2000 podium
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The start of the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires season has been incredibly successful for Cape Motorsports, as the multi-time USF2000 series champions are off to a massive start. The team has won five of the first six races in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda with their talented rookie driver Oliver Askew, sweeping this past weekend’s event on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to extend the streak. Askew’s teammate Ricky Donison also turned in his best performance of the year, finishing third in Race One before recovering from opening lap contact in Race Two to knife through the field back to eighth. It was a stellar outing overall for Donison, who becomes the first driver from India to podium in MRTI competition.
“We are so proud of everyone’s efforts for the Indy GP,” stated Dominic and Nicholas Cape, post-race. “Anthony had a fantastic drive in the first race after a brilliant move in Turn One, and he grabbed some valuable points in Race Two. Oliver was spectacular again and captured his fifth straight victory after another clean sweep. He’s truly an impressive young man. Ricky’s performance was remarkable; he’s coming on in leaps and bounds. His drive from last place to eighth after contact with Ming, yet again, was truly impressive. He was on pace all weekend and we are so pleased for him after a difficult start to the season.”
The Cape Motorsports engineering staff has quickly dialed in their set-up program for the new Tatuus USF-17 race car, which has provided Askew and Donison with a capable platform to take on the ultra-competitive USF2000 grid.
In qualifying for Race One, Askew earned his fourth pole of the year thanks to a new track record time of 1:24.6831 that took advantage of the cooler morning temperatures, while Donison showed his quickest pace of the year with a lap of 1:25.0610 that would put him P3 for the start. Qualifying for Race Two was also held on the Friday, and Askew again topped the chart to secure the inside of the front row, albeit a little slower that his record pace of the morning. Donison was again right in the mix, timing in fourth.
The opening race of the doubleheader on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road required two runs to the line to get the green flag, but Askew made quick work of his competition to pull a quick gap. The caution came out immediately on lap two for an incident in Turn Seven, but Askew handled the restart well and would go on to a 5.2381-second win. Donison ran his best race of the year to cross the line in fourth, and he would be promoted to the podium following a post-race technical DQ.
Race Two was held on Saturday morning, and the start was a carbon copy of Friday’s event with a yellow being displayed early after opening lap contact. Donison was caught up in the seven-car melee, as he was spun from behind in Turn Two. Luckily, he was able to get re-fired and joined the grid at the tail of the field, setting up an impressive charge forward. Askew once again romped away to the race win, although this time he saw a 4.4-second lead vanish with just two laps to go when a car became stranded just inside the apex of Turn Seven. Oliver again managed the restart and held a 1.2488-second advantage at the line. Ricky had climbed back up to ninth through the race and then jumped on the opportunity to move to eighth when a battle for third opened the door for him to slip through on the final lap.
Cape Motorsports, Oliver Askew, Ricky Donison and Anthony Martin will now focus on the next event on the MRTI schedule, which will be held at the end of June in Elkhart Lake, Wis., at the iconic Road America (June 23-25).
DRIVER PERFORMANCE / QUOTES
COOPER TIRES USF2000 CHAMPIONSHIP POWERED BY MAZDA – ROUNDS #5/6
MAY 11-13, 2017 – INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY – INDIANAPOLIS, IN
OLIVER ASKEW – USF2000 #2
Qualifying 1: 1st – 1:24.6831
Qualifying 2: 1st – 1:24.7400
Race 1: Start – 1st / Finish – 1st
Race 2: Start – 1st / Finish – 1st
Driver Quote: “Once again my Cape Motorsports-prepared Mazda Scholarship car was on rails, over three tenths quicker than anyone else all weekend. Everyone is working very well together, the system works. I can’t thank my team enough for the hard work and expertise they are putting in to win these races.”
RICKY DONISON – USF2000 #3
Qualifying 1: 3rd – 1:25.0610
Qualifying 2: 4th – 1:25.2088
Race 1: Start – 3rd / Finish – 3rd
Race 2: Start – 4th / Finish – 8th
Driver Quote: “I am extremely happy with the way the weekend went. Coming into this round, I didn’t know what to expect, but from the first session onwards I knew I was going to be fast and be in contention for the top five; however, getting a podium was a bonus. I’m glad that my team is leading the championship again and couldn’t thank them enough for giving me the best car on the grid. I’m looking forward to the next round, hopefully I can fight for a win at Road America.”