Brabham and Andretti Autosport Enjoy Perfect Weekend in St. Pete ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – No one could touch Matthew Brabham on the downtown streets of St. Petersburg. The 19-year-old third-generation racer – grandson of three-time Formula 1 World Champion Sir Jack Brabham and son of sports car champion Geoff – won both legs of the Allied Building Products Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to claim a commanding lead after four rounds of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.
Andretti Autosport teammate Shelby Blackstock (#28 Team Starstruck) finished a career-best second this afternoon after starting from the pole position, backing up his third place from Saturday, while Round 1 winner Diego Ferreira finished a distant third in Juncos Racing’ s #57 Team Vi5o Venezuela/Mindeporte entry.
Yesterday, in hot, humid conditions, Brabham bounced back from a problem in qualifying to vault from eighth on the grid to take the win, his second of the season. This afternoon, in cooler temperatures and a blustery wind, Brabham started fifth but lost no time in moving toward the front. Last year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda Champion emerged from the first corner in third place, picked off Ferreira for second on Lap 2, then was content to bide his time behind teammate Blackstock before making his move for the lead under braking for Turn One on Lap 10.
Brabham thereafter stroked away to another consummate victory aboard the #83 MAZDASPEED/ Team Andretti Autosport entry, finally taking the checkered flag 6.255 seconds clear of fellow rookie Blackstock.
Local driver Nick Andries (#19 JDC MotorSports), from Pinellas Park, Fla., made another excellent start to jump from eighth to fourth, but lasted only until Lap 10 when he encountered some mechanical difficulties.
Spencer Pigot (#81 Doug Mockett & Company/Gap Guard/Parathyroid.com/California Scents/ OMP) made up one position on the opening lap and eventually finished fourth for the locally based Team Pelfrey, but the Orlando, Fla., resident struggled with his car’s handling and was disappointed after winning three times on the streets of St. Petersburg over the past two years in USF2000 competition. Finnish teammate Petri Suvanto looked set for sixth until clipping the wall in Turn Nine on the final lap while closely pursuing Californian teenager Kyle Kaiser’s #18 InterVision/ NetApp/Juniper Networks/ Riverbed car fielded by World Speed Motorsports.
Kaiser therefore finished a fine fifth ahead of Colombian Juan Piedrahita (JDC MotorSports), who rebounded from a disappointing start to his season to secure sixth in the #19 Petrosur/Sisolec/GFM Motors/Red Line Oil car.
Contingency awards included the Staubli and PFC awards issued to the winner and winning team, and the Quartermaster Hard Charger Award for most positions gained which went to Brabham, who advanced four places.
After four races, Brabham leads Ferreira by a 13-point margin, 118 to 105. Blackstock holds down third place on 82 points ahead of Pigot on 64. The Pro Mazda competitors will now take a mini-break before resuming for Round 5 at the Lucas Oil Raceway oval in Indianapolis, part of the traditional “Night Before the 500" event on Saturday, May 25.
p Matthew Brabham, #83 MAZDASPEED/Team Andretti Autosport – First: “It was an awesome race. The team has been working so hard. The guys at Andretti are doing such a great job and to get a one-two in this race just shows how hard they have been working and how good the cars are. It has been a special weekend for the team with James [Hinchcliffe] winning today’s [IZOD IndyCar Series] race as well so it is a bonus to get another win for myself. It was an exciting start to the race. I managed to have a really good start and get to the inside and make a few passes early on and that really helped me later in the race. I didn’t have to follow too many people and burn the front tires off. I am just absolutely thrilled and can’t thank everyone enough.”
Shelby Blackstock, #28 Team Starstruck (Andretti Autosport) – Second: “Today was a pretty good race overall. I can’t complain. The two Andretti cars were definitely at the front of the pack by far. Actually, my car was a little bit weak where Matt’s [Brabham] was the strongest and that was where he was able to get us. We went back on a change before the start of the race and we should have left that change in. Other than that, it was a pretty good race overall and I would like to thank St. Petersburg, Allied Building Products, Mazda, Cooper Tires, Andretti Autosport, everybody for putting this race on and giving us excellent cars. We are first and third in the points and that’s a great start to the season.”
Diego Ferreira, #57 Team Vi5o Venezuela/Mindeporte (Juncos Racing) – Third: “This is my fourth podium of the season and I feel really good. I did my best in the race and played smart to make sure I would be on the podium which is important for the championship. It is a long season and hopefully we can continue our momentum.”
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