Monterey, Calif. – Nico Jamin secured the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda title – and a Mazda scholarship prize valued at over $380,000 – in style this morning at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The talented 19-year-old from Rouen, France, romped to a dominant victory for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, his ninth of the season and fifth in succession in the first of two races that comprise this weekend’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix Powered by Mazda.
Australian rookie Anthony Martin finished second for the third time this season for John Cummiskey Racing, and in the process clinched top rookie honors. Jake Eidson finished third for Pabst Racing but it wasn’t enough to keep his slim championship aspirations alive going into tomorrow’s season finale.
Jamin, who has been the class of the field in 2015, made his intentions clear yesterday afternoon by snagging his 12th pole of the season, breaking the record established by 2010 series champion and current Verizon IndyCar Series driver Sage Karam. Even more remarkably, it was Jamin’s 11th consecutive pole. He also broke the record for most podiums in a season at 14 besting the record set by J.R. Hildebrand in 2006.
Jamin duly checked out at the start, completing the first lap of the 2.238-mile road course a full 1.7 seconds clear of Cape Motorsports teammate Aaron Telitz. Jamin never looked back en route to a comfortable victory.
A mistake at the iconic Corkscrew Turn on Lap 2 saw Telitz run wide on the exit and lose four positions. Martin and Eidson swept past into second and third, while Los Angeles-based Russian Nikita Lastochkin also profited by moving his Team Pelfrey Van Diemen-Mazda up into fourth after starting a career-best sixth.
Lastochkin lost a position to the recovering Telitz on Lap 11 but was still on course for his first top-five finish of the season until cruelly running out of fuel on the final lap, costing him two positions to Canadian Parker Thompson (JDC MotorSports) and German Keyvan Andres Soori (ArmsUp Motorsports). Thompson’s strong run from 10th on the grid earned him the Tilton Hard Charger Award, while Soori claimed the RePlay XD Move of the Race Award for the manner in which he passed Garth Rickards for ninth position on Lap 9.
The Cape brothers, Dominic and Nicholas, claimed their ninth PFC Award as the winning team owners, while the Staubli Award went to Peter Portante, who finished 10th in his first open-wheel race of the season at the wheel of another ArmsUp Motorsports Van Diemen-Mazda.
The green flag for tomorrow’s 16th and final race of the season will fly at 4:10 PM PDT with live coverage on the Mazda Road to Indy App and at racecontrol.indycar.com.
Nico Jamin (#2 Synova Automotive/Eco-Plastics-Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing): “It’s been an incredible year. I knew coming to Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing would be a huge help for me as I tried to fight for the championship. I knew we would have some very strong championship contenders, like my teammate Aaron Telitz and Jake Eidson. I won the Cooper Tires Winterfest, but only on the last race. It was very hard and I knew it would be the same thing in the championship. But the team gave me an incredible car. They are the best guys; they made my job so much easier. To get the pole and the win this weekend will get me more money, which is good because I am supporting the B+ (Be Positive) Foundation for Childhood Cancer, and all the money I get from the two races will go to the Foundation.”