Birmingham, Ala. – Weiron Tan has developed an affinity for Barber Motorsports Park. The 20-year-old Malaysian won once and finished second in the two Cooper Tires Winterfest races at the 2.3-mile, 17-turn road course in February, and maintained that form today by scoring a clear victory for Andretti Autosport in the Mazda Grand Prix of Alabama, Round 4 of the 2015 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.
Frenchman Timothé Buret chased hard in second for Juncos Racing, while Uruguayan Santi Urrutia kept the international theme going by finishing third for Team Pelfrey, some 10 seconds adrift of the leaders.
The opening stages of the 30-minute race were delayed by full-course cautions for a variety of reasons, but when the green flag finally waved after five laps, Tan left no time in stamping his authority on the proceedings. Buret chased hard in second place and even managed to secure the bonus point for fastest lap of the race, but was never in a position to challenge Tan’s lead. They were separated by just over two seconds at the finish line.
Instead, all eyes were on the battle for third between the Team Pelfrey pair of Urrutia and Pato O’Ward and series points leader Neil Alberico (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing), who had struggled in practice but found his car transformed by a few judicious setup changes prior to qualifying.
Alberico split the Pelfrey cars with a bold move at the restart, earning himself the RePlay XD Move of the Race Award, although he had to work hard for the remainder of the race to keep 15-year-old O’Ward behind him.
Raoul Owens (JDC MotorSports) secured the Quartermaster Hard Charger Award, moving from 13th on the grid to sixth at the start, followed by a snarling train of cars comprising Garett Grist (Juncos Racing), Florian Latorre (Cape Motorsports), Will Owen (Juncos Racing) and Daniel Burkett (Cape Motorsports).
Additional contingency awards include the PFC Award to the winning team, Andretti Autosport, and the Staubli Award to Tan.
Race Two of the Mazda Grand Prix of Alabama will start at 9:00 a.m. Central Daylight Time on Sunday, April 26. Live timing and commentary will be available on the new Mazda Road to Indy App and at promazda.com.
Weiron Tan (#22 Andretti Autosport): “Tim had a really good start; we were side-by-side across the Start/Finish line. I had the inside, so I had the advantage, especially because the outside was a bit damp. That gave me the upper hand. Winterfest did help us come out strong here, in terms of learning the track. It’s a very flowing track and it’s difficult to pass, but it’s fun. It’s got character. But the conditions were completely different at Winterfest, since it was so cold here in February, so it helped in some ways and not in others. We’ve done some fine-tuning and we had a good setup for this track.”
Timothé Buret (#6 Broadsign/TRAXX.FM/Driving Koncept-Juncos Racing): “Weiron was on the inside of me in Turn One, so I tried the outside and I went off the track where it was very slippery; fortunately, I came back on in the same position. The car was really good for this race, the team did a really good job. We have the quickest lap in the race, so we know the car will be good tomorrow.”
Pro Mazda Championship