Brazilian tops field in challenging wet weather main event
NEW ORLEANS, LA (April 14, 2015) – In motorsports, they say that rain is the ‘great equalizer’ and that true talent comes to the forefront when wet weather puts the emphasis directly on the driver. Afterburner Autosport’s Victor Franzoni once again proved his immense talent in Sunday’s running of the fourth round of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda at NOLA Motorsports Park. The Brazilian started on the off-pole for the second event of the doubleheader, thanks to posting a fast time in Saturday’s opening race, in which is he finished a strong fourth. In Sunday’s wet race, Franzoni took the lead early in the 20-minute event and masterfully handled the challenging conditions to score his first win of the year.
“This is an incredible way to end the weekend, because our team put in a ton of hours at this event to give Victor the best car we could,” offered Tim Walsh, Afterburner Autosport Team Principal. “We swapped cars, changed motors, and went back and forth between wet and dry set-ups. Saturday’s top-five was good, but Sunday’s win in the rain was very satisfying. Our goal will be to take this victory and ride the momentum through to Barber in two weeks.”
As stated, it was a long weekend for the Afterburner crew, who elected to move Victor to their #14 car after the Thursday promoters test day. In the new car, which was re-badged with his #17 decal, Franzoni was strong from the onset of the weekend, running the second quickest times in both of Friday’s practice sessions. In Saturday morning qualifying stint, the team elected to use just a single set of new sticker Cooper tires to save fresh rubber for the races as Victor would lay down a 1:38.992 that put him sixth on the grid for Race 1. In that 30-minute race, Franzoni was ultra-quick and advanced to fourth, although he was unable to close on the lead trio and finished in that position. In the process of his fourth place run, he turned in the second quickest lap of the race to secure a front row starting position for Race 2 on Sunday morning. Following the race, the team went over the data and elected to make an engine change, which the team took care of into the late evening.
The rains that affected the start of Sunday’s IndyCar race began early in the morning, and the USF2000 drivers hit the track at 8:30 a.m. for a shortened 20-minute race. In full wet conditions, Franzoni settled into second on the opening lap and then went into attack mode to takeover the point. On lap three, he slipped inside Aaron Telitz to assume the lead and would go on to a 1.015-second triumph. Victor was challenged aggressively by Saturday winner Nico Jamin in the late-going, but the Brazilian was too much for Jamin and cruised over the final corners to his first win of the year.
The team will now tear down their cars in preparation for the next event on the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda circuit, which will take place at Barber Motorsports Park on April 24-26. Afterburner has two race-ready cars available for the remainder of the 2015 season, if any interested drivers would like to team with a USF2000 race winner like Victor Franzoni on a race-winning squad. These cars are prepped and ready to race for drivers looking to gain experience in the USF2000 program, whether it be through a focused testing program and in official series action. Drivers interested in these seats should contact Tim Walsh directly.