USF2000 Champion Suvanto joins Team Pelfrey Team Pelfrey announced the addition of 2011 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda champion Petri Suvanto to compete in the Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear.
The team made a stunning series debut last March when Connor De Phillippi won the opening race at St. Petersburg, Fla., just a few miles away from its home base. De Phillippi maintained the momentum by adding three race wins, and together with teammate Nick Andries claimed a total of three poles and 13 podium finishes en route to second and third positions in the drivers' championship. The team also finished first and second in the season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to clinch the Team Championship.
Suvanto will join American Gustavo Menezes, who finished eighth in the 2011 Star Mazda series as a rookie with Juncos Racing, and Englishman Jack Hawksworth, a race winner in last year's Formula Renault 2.0 UK Championship.
"Winning is our obsession, so who better to drive for us than the defending USF2000 champion," said Team Pelfrey team manager Geoff Fickling. "Petri is the perfect driver for a results-oriented team. He's extremely focused, self-motivated, and bloody quick! Some of his wins last year were shockingly impressive. We know the step up to Star Mazda is a big one and there's a learning curve that needs to be met in order to even utter the word championship, but I've laid out the most extensive preseason testing program I've ever been a part of in order to get all three of our young drivers' learning curves accelerated as quickly as possible prior to the opener at St. Petersburg. Jack, Gustavo, and Petri, I couldn't be happier with our lineup."
Suvanto was impressive in winning last year's Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda title as a rookie and is now able to reach one step closer to his goal of competing in the IZOD IndyCar Series, courtesy of the Mazda Road to Indy scholarship ladder.
"It feels great to finally announce that I will be racing for Team Pelfrey," Suvanto said. "It's been very difficult to hold back the exciting news for so long while we finalized all the details! I have had a chance to get to know the team a little bit over the winter and I'm very excited to work with such a professional group of people again.
"Moving up to Star Mazda isn't going to be easy but I'm welcoming the challenge with open arms. The theme of the year is learning, and the more I learn the better the results are going to be. Things have changed a lot over the last 12 months. Last year at this time I was wondering whether I would be able to ever race again, but from the moment I learned about the Mazda Road to Indy, I knew what I wanted. It worked out pretty well. 2011 changed my life and I'm very thankful to all the people who were part of it, especially everyone at Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing. Now it's time to start a new chapter full of new challenges. I'm already counting the days until the first race."
Suvanto, 19, is currently completing his mandatory military service in his native Finland. Once his National Service is completed, he will join the team in a busy schedule of testing in preparation for the first race of the season, which will be held in conjunction with the IZOD IndyCar Series opener, the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, on March 25.
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