Tan, Buret and Urrutia Take Indy Pro Mazda Wins

Santiago Urrutia claims points lead in Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires after three races on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Weiron Tan controlled the proceedings for the first of three Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires races on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, this first one rescheduled from NOLA Motorsports Park. Malaysian Tan scored his second win of the season for Andretti Autosport and vault from sixth to third in the championship standings.

Frenchman Timothé Buret, driving for defending champion team Juncos Racing, claimed the fastest race lap en route to his second runner-up finish in the last three races. Californian Neil Alberico extended his championship lead by a few points by finishing third for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing.

In the second race, originally scheduled as the first race of the Cooper Tires Mazda Grand Prix of Indianapolis, rookie Buret fulfilled the promise that he has shown in the past few races, setting the fast lap in qualifying. After losing his lead at the start, Buret recovered it quickly, then controlled the remainder of the 30-minute race to claim an accomplished first win of the season for Indianapolis-based defending champion team Juncos Racing.

Fellow Frenchman Florian Latorre finished a strong second for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, while Uruguayan rookie Santi Urrutia took over the points lead by virtue of finishing third for Team Pelfrey.

The race began in style as the top three qualifiers ran three abreast into the braking zone for Turn 1 for the first time. Latorre, whose team had worked until 3:00 a.m. to repair his car following a dramatic accident the day prior, showed his gratitude by emerging in the lead, although he was unable to prevent Buret from regaining the advantage at Turn 7. Moments later, the caution flags waved for an incident toward the back of the competitive 21-car field.

Buret took control at the restart, turning a sequence of consistent laps, and never relinquished his advantage.

Victor Franzoni made an impressive Pro Mazda debut to finish fifth for M1 Racing. The Brazilian, a recent graduate of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, leapt from ninth on the grid to sixth at the start, then slipped past Will Owen for fifth.

In the final race on the Indy road course, Urrutia maintained his impressive run of form for Team Pelfrey by snagging victory. The 18-year-old fought off a race-long challenge from Juncos Racing’s Owen to claim his second win of the season by a slim margin of 1.0238 seconds after 21 laps around the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway Grand Prix circuit. Buret was third.

Urrutia now holds a 24-point lead, 194-170, over seventh place finisher Neil Alberico at the halfway point of the 16-race season.

After the initial attempt at a start was waved off, Urrutia jumped into the lead and held off the snarling pack into Turn 1. Owen, who won one of last year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda races on the Indianapolis road course, tucked into second place ahead of Patricio O’Ward (Team Pelfrey), up from fifth on the grid. Latorre went in the opposite direction. After starting second, Latorre found himself swallowed up by the pack and was bundled down to sixth at the end of the first green-flag lap.

Urrutia seemed to struggle with consistency during the first half of the race, but thereafter turned a series of fast laps to gradually eke out a small lead over the chasing Owen. O’Ward, who celebrated his 16th birthday on Wednesday, couldn’t quite match the leaders’ pace but maintained third until Lap 14, when he braked a little too deep for Turn 12 and lost the position to Buret.

The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires will continue May 23 at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis with the Freedom 90, part of the #MRTI FreedomFest weekend during the lead-up to the 99th Indianapolis 500.