Double Podiums for Kaiser at Season Opener in St. Petersburg
 March 15, 2016| 
  • Team News

St. Petersburg, Fla. – The 2016 Indy Lights Championship Presented by Cooper Tires is shaping up to be an exciting year for Juncos Racing after a successful weekend at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Lucas School of Racing. American Kyle Kaiser claimed his first pole and two podiums, while teammate Zach Claman De Melo gave an impressive performance in his first run in the Mazda Road to Indy ladder series. 

A total of 16 cars made up the highly competitive field for the season-opening rounds of the 2016 Indy Lights Championship. Juncos Racing teammates Kaiser and Claman De Melo showed great pace in both practice sessions on the 1.8 mile, 14-Turn street course located in St. Petersburg, Florida. Kaiser, (Santa Clara, California) proved to be a top contender behind the wheel of the #18 InterVision/NetApp/ JuniperNetworks car, pacing the field in qualifying to pick up the first pole of the year. Claman De Melo took the 10th starting position for his first race in the Indy Lights series. 

The first round of the 2016 season showed just how competitive the field will be for the year with multiple battles throughout the race. Kaiser, who took the pole position, fell back to fourth on the first lap after contact from behind forced him to lose the lead. The American went on to finish third for Round 1. Rookie Claman De Melo (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) saw lots of action on the first lap after contact damaged the front nose. Even though Claman De Melo would run the entire race in the #13 Adidias/SevenforAllManKind car with the damaged nose cone, it did not stop the rookie from showing how strong he will be for the season, finishing only one position down from where he qualified. 

The following day Juncos Racing carried the strong momentum gained into Round 2 which saw even more action in the 16 car line-up. Kaiser took the third starting position and Claman De Melo started seventh. On the first lap, Kaiser made his way up to second where he would remain the entire race, delivering the team their second podium of the weekend. Claman De Melo moved into sixth during the first half of the race and had a strong run going until his car lost all power, causing him to end his day early. 

Kaiser, who recorded two podiums and one pole in the opening rounds, currently sits one point behind the championship leader. 

“It was a great weekend for the team,” said Kaiser. “We executed in qualifying, which really set us up well to achieve the two podiums this weekend. We’ll be looking to carry this momentum to Phoenix in a couple of weeks. I’m so grateful for the team and my sponsors for supporting my program for another year.” 

The Indy Lights paddock took notice of rookie Zach Claman De Melo after he showed just how competitive he will be this season, even when faced with unfortunate incidents. 

“Overall it wasn’t a bad weekend,” said Claman De Melo. “I learned a lot and was able to get closer to the team over the race weekend. I had some electrical problems in Round 2, but was in sixth until those issues forced me out for the rest of the race. These types of things happen and are part of racing, but I know we will figure out the issues and come back stronger. I’m looking forward to carrying this positive momentum into the next round. “ 

After an impressive start to the 2016 season Juncos Racing Team Principle, Ricardo Juncos, is pleased with the results of both drivers and thrilled to take home two podiums after the first rounds of the Indy Lights season. Juncos is confident the team will only continue to improve as they head into Round 3 at Phoenix International Raceway later this month. 

“I’m really proud of all we were able to accomplish this weekend at St. Pete,” said Juncos. “Everyone has been working very hard to come out this year with the same strong momentum we had last year. Kyle (Kaiser) has really stepped up after a tough 2015 season dealing with many unfortunate incidents that did not allow him to get the results he deserved. These two podiums and his first pole position show he will be one of the top drivers to beat for the championship and I am thrilled to have him back on board for his third year with the team. Zach (Claman De Melo) gained a lot of attention this weekend after he showed what he is capable of in race mode, even with damaged nose cone. When most drivers would come in to have changed, he fought his way through the race and showed us all he will be a tough driver behind the wheel this year. We will continue to stay focused as the season progresses and I am confident as long as we continue to work hard we will obtain the results we deserve. I want to thank everyone for all of their continued support as we make our run for the 2016 championship.”   

The Indy Lights Championship Presented by Cooper Tires continues with Round 3 on the first oval of the year at Phoenix International Raceway April, 2nd2016. For more information please visit juncosracing.com and indylights.com. 

About Juncos Racing:  Ricardo Juncos, a second generation driver, grew up with a deep passion for racing. Juncos made his first steps in the racing community driving karts throughout Argentina. After funding became difficult, Juncos worked for teams in order to support his own racing career. During this time Juncos took courses in mechanical and electrical engineering to fully understand racing on and off the track. Ricardo Juncos established Juncos Racing in 1997 as a formula team operating in Argentina. Six years later, Juncos Racing moved to Miami, Florida where they became a respected karting team recording multiple local, regional, and national titles. After a successful run in karts, Juncos Racing moved north to Indianapolis, Indiana the “racing capitol of the world,” in 2008 to join INDYCAR’s Mazda Road to Indy series. After only two years in the Star Mazda Championship, the team finished second in the 2010 championship while Conor Daly won the driver championship. Juncos Racing continued their run in the Pro Mazda Championship (the former Star Mazda) taking second in the 2012 and 2013 championships. Most recently 2014 proved to be one of the most successful years for Juncos Racing, winning the driver championship with Spencer Pigot and team championship in both the Cooper Tires Winterfest and Pro Mazda Championship. Juncos Racing expanded operations in 2015 to include two Indy Lights entries along with four Pro Mazda cars.

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