By Aaron Bearden, Contributing Writer
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — With rain anticipated on Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park, few drivers in the Mazda Road to Indy were as confident as Harrison Scott.
“I’m British, and we’re used to the rain for sure,” he told Motorsports Tribune after Saturday’s first Pro Mazda Championship race. “So if it’s wet, it’s not going to phase me. I know what to do.”
Scott proved that to be true on Sunday.
The Briton surged past the off-course Andres Gutierrez shortly before a caution for weather conditions that would end the event to claim his first Pro Mazda victory, as well as the maiden victory for RP Motorsport Racing.
“This is an unreal feeling,” Scott said. “First win on the Mazda Road to Indy series. First win on the Cooper Tires. First win with a Mazda engine. First for RP. There’s a whole lot of firsts, and for it too ome so early is a huge, huge credit to the whole team at RP Motorsport.
“We received the cars in March. We’ve had just four test days. To already be coming into victory lane in only the second round is a big credit to them, because they’re working so hard. Every time we’re on-trasck, we’re getting better. And we’re still so far behind on development, we’ve still got a lot to improve. I think we’re only going to keep getting better and better as the season goes on, which is fantastic.”
Scott led a handful of laps early on and returned to the front at the end, but it was Parker Thompson that brought the field to the green flag.
Thompson was looking for a weekend sweep, but his lack of experience in the wet paired with his car’s dry weather setup to give the young Canadian a stiff challenge on the difficult Alabama circuit. He paced the opening two laps – one under yellow, and another after the green flag waved – but afterward he relinquished the lead to Scott and never managed to retake it.
“I just wanted to take it easy the first couple laps,” Thompson said. “(Scott) did a good job gauging me, to find a better line. He got a run on me and got by me.”
From there the battle came down to Scott and Andres Gutierrez.
After starting mid-pack, Gutierrez stormed to the front of the field with a car engineered for wet weather. He took the lead in the middle section of the event and held the top spot up until the final six laps.
It was there that Gutierrez made a mistake. The young prospect ran off-course, dropping to seventh and allowing Scott to storm by in the race lead.
The caution flag flew moments later, and the race was never restarted. The field ran the final five circuits behind a safety car en-route to the checkered flag.
Following Scott in second was Thompson.
“I really wanted to win that race, but I was up against guys that had a lot more wet experience than I do,” Thompson said. “I took like a Canadian goose to the wet. I think I did a good job up against some Europeans that have a little bit more experience than I, and especially at a place like Barber Motorsports Park.”
Carlos Cunha benefitted from Gutierrez’s mistake to steal a third-place finish and a redemptive podium.
“The first race was crazy, because I went off the track two times,” Cunha said. “It was crazy. But I was able to put my head in the right way for the second race and just relax inside of the car.”
Rinus Veekay and David Malukas rounded out the top five, with Robert Megennis, Gutierrez, Rafael Martins, Lodovico Laurini and Sting Ray Robb completing the top 10.
Pro Mazda will return to action on May 10-12, when the series heads to Indianapolis Motor Speedway to compete on the track’s road course.
- Harrison Scott
- Parker Thompson
- Carlos Cunha
- Rinus Veekay
- David Malukas
- Robert Megennis
- Andres Gutierrez
- Rafael Martins
- Lodovico Laurini
- Sting Ray Robb
- Nikita Lastochkin
- Oliver Askew
- Kory Enders
- Kris Wright