Baron Adds to Points Tally at Long Beach
 April 17, 2014| 
  • Team News

French up-and-comer reaffirms pace and skill on California street circuit

Narbonne, France – Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires newcomer Alex Baron once again showcased his overall pace and skill on Sunday (April 13), in what was a strong drive on the Streets of Long Beach, Calif. The French rookie was among the front-runners in his Belardi Auto Racing entry, before ending his second series race with a valuable points scoring sixth-place finish. Baron is now focused on building on his performances to date as the season moves forward.

Baron, having impressed onlookers in his Indy Lights debut just over a week ago on the streets of St. Petersburg in Florida, was excited to get back into the cockpit for his second-ever series event. The French rookie was up to the challenge of facing his second consecutive concrete-lined street circuit. That was immediately made evident, as despite never having visited the historic 1.968-mile Long Beach course, Baron’s No. 4 Liberty Engineering/13th Avenue/Synova/Stand 21/Bell was among those to beat right from the get go. While Baron was ultimately focused on track acclimatization and car setup during the two practice runs, he ended the sessions third, first and second respectively among the rookie contingent.

Baron and the Belardi Auto Racing crew were keen to get the qualifying underway one day later, given the results to start the event and aware that a front-running starting position is vital at a street race. Baron early on executed his qualifying strategy exactly as planned, posting times among the leaders and jumping up to the provisional pole position at the midway point of the session. Everything was going according to plan, until the final moments, when multiple drivers shuffled up the order. In the end, Baron was classified fourth, a mere seven hundredths of a second off the pole-winning time.

When Baron slid back behind the wheel come race day, the strategy was simple, go for the win. As expected, the first charge down to Turn One proved to be the decisive moment of the race. For Baron, it meant looking for any opportunity to advance up the order, while at the same time not getting caught up any incident. The USF2000 Championship race-winning graduate ultimately challenged for positions, but maintained fourth place. Initially able to duel for a podium position, Baron became isolated as the race progressed, running fast consistent laps. Unfortunately, just as the 45-lap affair was coming to a close, an error resulted in a loss of track position and a couple places in the running order. When the checkered flag waved a few laps later, Baron was classified an unrepresentative sixth, securing more valuable points for both the youngster and Belardi Auto Racing.

“It was only my second race in Lights, and I know that I progressed a lot with my team,” stated Baron. “I was a little bit disappointed after the qualifying session because I was P1 until the last seconds of the session. Unfortunately, I made a mistake in the last lap and ended up P4, only seven hundreths off. For the race, my first priority was to help (teammate) Gabby (Chaves) at the start and I think we did a good job. During the race, I was more inconsistent and I know that these are the points I have to work on now. My manager and my team asked me to progress on each weekend, and it’s my goal. I will do everything possible to be on the podium at Barber. I am also very happy for Gabby, (team owner) Brian (Belardi) and all the guys in our team. They did a great job and I am sure we will have a lot of success together very soon.”

Baron now has a brief break before resuming his quest for an inaugural Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires win, when race three on the series calendar takes place at Barber Motorsports Park on April 26. The rising French star enters the Alabama road course sitting ninth in the championship fight.

About Alex Baron:
Narbonne, France’s Alex Baron first began racing karts at the age of six. Quickly showcasing his talent behind the wheel, he captured 38 wins and two French Championship titles between 2002 and 2006, subsequently becoming both factory racer for Tony Kart France and Sodikart, and a member of the FFSA French Team. In 2011, Baron made the transition to race cars, earning a French Federation scholarship, and setting a F4 track record at the Le Mans track. Competing in the 2012 F4 Auto Sport Academy European Championship, the teenager captured the championship title with nine victories and 11 pole positions as a rookie. Awarded a partial season scholarship, Baron contested races in both Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup last season, before making the switch to the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda series. Baron promptly won two of the four races he contested in his North American debut.

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