Mazda Road to Indy Contenders Begin 2015 Season at Cooper Tires Winterfest
 February 16, 2015| 
  • Series News
Palmetto, Fla. – The international nature of this year’s Mazda Road to Indy will be featured prominently this week as drivers from no fewer than 15 nations take part in the annual preseason Cooper Tires Winterfest at NOLA Motorsports Park, near New Orleans, La., and Barber Motorsports Park, near Birmingham, Ala. The Winterfest will hold special significance, since both venues also will host rounds of the “regular season” championships which begin on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 28/29.

All three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy – the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires – which collectively offer opportunities for drivers to progress all the way from the grassroots of the sport to the Verizon IndyCar Series via scholarship packages at every level, will be in action.

The Indy Lights teams will have two days of testing, totaling 10 hours of track time, at each venue, beginning at NOLA on Wednesday, February 18, before moving to Barber Motorsports Park on Tuesday, February 24. Contestants in Pro Mazda and USF2000, meanwhile, will contest three races at each track, beginning at NOLA on Thursday, February 19, and then switching over to Barber the following Wednesday, February 25, competing for an enhanced prize fund totaling $50,000 and early bragging rights.

Harvey, Chilton, Pigot and Kaiser Headline 12-Car Indy Lights Entry 
A dozen Indy Lights cars are entered for the Winterfest proceedings, with Jack Harvey, Max Chilton and Spencer Pigot among the contenders seeking to make their presence felt aboard the highly acclaimed new Mazda-powered Dallara IL-15 cars.

Harvey, 21, from Lincoln, England, tied on points with series champion Gabby Chaves during an impressive rookie campaign in 2014, losing out only on a tie-breaker of second-place finishes. The former British Formula 3 champion and GP3 Series front-runner will return this year with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian, which has won seven Indy Lights championships in the past and has every intention of adding an eighth in 2015.

Fellow Englishman Chilton, 23, has spent the past couple of years in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship. He has joined forces with European powerhouse open-wheel squad Carlin to assist his former GP2 and F3 team in its U.S. preparations in Indy Lights with an eye towards the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2016.

Pigot, 21, from Orlando, Fla., won last year’s Pro Mazda title, along with a MAZDASPEED scholarship to progress one step farther up the ladder into Indy Lights with Juncos Racing. His teammate and fellow Pro Mazda graduate Kyle Kaiser, from Santa Clara, Calif., has paced the oval testing at Homestead and road course testing at Palm Beach International Raceway.

Other contenders who have shown good speed in recent testing include Dubai-based Briton Ed Jones, who set the fastest time for Carlin during a recent road course test at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida, Scott Hargrove (8Star Motorsports), from Vancouver, B.C., Canada, Shelby Blackstock (Andretti Autosport), from Nashville, Tenn., Scott Anderson (Schmidt Peterson) from Fort Collins, Colo., and Felix Serralles, from Ponce, Puerto Rico, who makes the move to Indy Lights from European F3 with defending champion team Belardi Auto Racing alongside series veteran Juan Piedrahita, from Bogota, Colombia.

Live Timing and Scoring will be available on the series website.

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