Matthew Brabham, seeking to become the first person to win championships on the three steps on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder in succession, got off to a good start in testing for the 2014 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires.
As part of the Cooper Tires Winterfest, a mini-series for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, several Indy Lights drivers gathered at NOLA Motorsports Park in Louisiana and Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama to warm up for the 2014 season that begins with the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 28-30. When it was all said and done, five drivers were within a second of each other on Barber’s rolling road course.
Brabham, in the No. 83 MAZDASPEED/United Fiber & Data car, came out on top of the time sheets in Alabama after two days of testing in chilly weather.
“I’m coming out of this test a lot more confident than I was going in, that’s for sure,” said Brabham. “I think we proved that we definitely have the pace to run up front. We were in the top two, fighting for the first few positions time-wise, in every single session, so I’m really, really confident and very happy with how the team’s working. They’re doing an awesome job. I can’t thank the guys enough and I’m really looking forward to the first race in St. Petersburg. It’s going to be interesting to see where everybody ends up when testing finishes and we get to the first race, but so far so good for us.”
However, it seems clear that Brabham will have his hands full with series veteran Gabby Chaves, who was second in times at Barber and led Brabham at NOLA by the slimmest of margins.
Brazilian Luiz Razia, who comes to the series from GP2, was third quickest at both tracks. Frenchman Alex Baron, who won a couple of USF2000 races in 2013, was also near the top of the time sheets at both tracks, as was Englishman Jack Harvey.