Top-fives in opening race of doubleheader highlights weekend for Rosenqvist and Veach
BROWNSBURG, IN (May 21, 2016) – The ‘Month of May’ got off to a hot and cold start for the Belardi Auto Racing Indy Lights squad at last weekend’s Mazda Grand Prix of Indianapolis, as team drivers Felix Rosenqvist and Zach Veach went into battle on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After qualifying in the top-10 for the first of two races during the doubleheader weekend, the Belardi duo posted strong runs on Friday to finish in fourth and fifth, respectively. On Saturday, unfortunate opening lap contact between the teammates put them both off-track and into recovery mode. Rosenqvist kept his head down and clawed his way back to sixth, setting a new fastest race lap record in the process, while Veach needed to pit to replace a damaged front wing, and took 10th in the final tally thanks to additional attrition.
With an event strategy in place heading into the weekend, the team made significant improvements through the Promoter’s Test sessions on Wednesday and the official practice runs on Thursday. Rosenqvist ended up third quick in the second practice session, and he would continue that upward momentum in Thursday morning qualifying by laying down a lap of 1:14.984, second only to Carlin Racing’s Ed Jones. Veach was less than three-tenths back in seventh with a lap of 1:15.237
In the first race of the doubleheader, Rosenqvist started on the outside of the front row and was able to find his way through the opening corner chaos in fourth before slipping past Santiago Urrutia for third in Turn 7. After dropping back to fourth midway through the race, a late caution period set up a wild dash for the final positions in the top-five, and Rosenqvist was challenged aggressively by Felix Serralles on the final lap. In the end, it was Serralles who cracked going off-track in Turn 10, as Rosenqvist was clean in his defense. Veach had a strong run as well, getting a great start to slot into fifth position early, and then he stayed out of trouble during the all-out scrap over the final laps to score an important points-paying finish in fifth.
Although the team is always focused on winning races, the top-five finishes on Friday were deemed successful, as the championship is the ultimate goal. In contrast, Saturday’s second race featured tough luck as the two team drivers made contact on the opening lap when Veach was caught out by tremendously cold conditions, sliding through the braking zone in Turn 7 and making light contact on Rosenqvist rear attenuator. Felix and Zach both ended up in the grass on the exit of the corner, and thankfully, they were able to return to the racing surface and continue.
Rosenqvist started a masterful charge back into the field, setting a blistering pace that would include the fast lap of the race, and the reigning European F3 champ sliced and diced his way to an impressive sixth position in the final tally. Veach followed Rosenqvist forward, but he was eventually ordered to pit lane by Race Control, who was concerned with the damage to his front wing. The team made quick work of replacing the component and Zach was back on-track. He took full advantage of a late-race yellow to close back up to the field and finished 10th.
The team will be back in action in just a week’s time as they return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Freedom 100 on the famed 2.5-mile oval. Belardi Auto Racing has tasted victory twice in the Indy Lights’ marquee event and has two drivers primed to take a run at the race win again this year. Live video with play-by-play will be available all weekend on RoadToIndy.tv.
BELARDI AUTO RACING – DRIVER RESULTS AND QUOTES
Felix Rosenqvist – #14
Race #1 – Qualify: 2nd / Finish: 4th
Race #2 – Qualify: 4th / Finish: 6th
Driver Quote: “It’s been a dream for me since I was young to only be able to watch the Indy 500 live. Next weekend, I’ll not only do that but I will also drive there on Friday myself. Having only driven the GP track so far, I still see how huge the track is – and the speeds we are going to reach must just be unreal. My team has won the race two times before and I feel confident going into the weekend with them for my second oval event. I picked up some good lessons in Phoenix and this time I want to be there – fighting in the front.”
Zach Veach – #5
Race #1 – Qualify: 78h / Finish: 5th
Race #2 – Qualify: 7th / Finish: 10th
Driver Quote: “The Grand Prix of Indianapolis weekend was very tough for us as a whole, spending a lot of time trying to get the car right and then, unfortunately, me making a mistake in Race 2. It was character building, but a huge step in the right direction for us. This season has been filled with bad luck but I feel that’s going to turn for us very soon. The Freedom 100 is the one race I want to win this year, especially after leading laps there and finishing third. I have some unfinished business and I know being in a Belardi Auto Racing car has given me the best opportunity to make that happen! Belardi has won both Freedoms I’ve competed in, hopefully this year is no different.”
Direct Contact: Brian Belardi
About Belardi Auto Racing:
Belardi Auto Racing is an organization comprised of experienced individuals in the racing industry with an aggressive growth strategy and a strong commitment to finishing up front. No stranger to winning, team members having been achieving success in both the amateur and pro ranks for over a decade, winning numerous junior formula car races and championships. Based in Brownsburg, Ind., Belardi Auto Racing won the 2014 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship and has scored multiple races wins in both Indy Lights and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered By Mazda, including the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis and prestigious races like the Long Beach Grand Prix, the Milwaukee Mile and the Pocono 100.
Photo: Belardi-Lights-R4-Rosenqvist (1500 x 1000 pixels web-ready JPEG)
Possible Caption: Belardi Auto Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist posted a pair of solid finishes at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, holding his position in the championship standings
(Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography)