Team drivers put St. Pete opener behind them and keep eyes on popular street circuit.
LONG BEACH, CA (April 16, 2015) – This coming weekend in the southern California city of Long Beach, Belardi Auto Racing will return to the site of one of their biggest victories of 2014. Less than a year ago, the team won the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires race at the Grand Prix of Long Beach with Gabby Chaves at the wheel, setting up a charge for the championship title. This season, the slate has been wiped clean with the debut of a brand new chassis and two new pilots, and this driving duo is coming off a rough weekend from the series opener in St. Petersburg. Felix Serralles and Juan Piedrahita are both excited to get back into their cars on the historic street circuit after spending some important time in the race simulator at the Dallara factory in Speedway, Indiana.
Like all of the teams with which they compete in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship series, Belardi Auto Racing arrived in St. Petersburg, Florida in late March ready to make their competition debut with their pair of new Dallara IL-15 race cars. However, in stark contrast to the competition, they were forced to battle through on-track contact that knocked the weekend off the rails for their rookie driver Felix Serralles. The Puerto Rican pilot was shoved into the Turn 3 concrete wall by Max Chilton early in Race 1, ending his run before it could even begin. The ripple effect of the incident continued into the second race of the doubleheader as his car experienced nagging issues as a result of the wreck.
“The contact between Felix and Max is Race 1 was obviously disappointing, and it was needless which put us way behind in terms of prepping for the second race,” commented Brian Belardi, team Principal. “That said, we learned a great deal throughout the weekend and we’re excited to get on-track in St. Petersburg. The guys logged some crucial simulator time to prepare for Long Beach and we’re excited to see what we can do. We all want to get back to victory lane, where we finished the weekend last year.”
Belardi’s Indy Light drivers will take to the track for one 45-minute practice session on Friday afternoon at 1:30 pm Pacific ahead of Saturday morning’s 30-minute practice at 9:15 am. Qualifying is set for 12:55 pm on Saturday afternoon. Serralles and Piedrahita will return to the track on Sunday morning at 8:45 am PT for their main event. Live timing and live commentary will be available on the series website (www.indylights.com) and on the new Road to Indy app, which is available free for iPhones and Android devices through iTunes or Google Play.
BELARDI AUTO RACING – DRIVER INFORMATION
Felix Serralles – #4
Hometown: Ponce, Puerto Rico
Residence: Atlanta, Georgia
Sponsors: S&S Discount Tire, Sterling Performance, Skater Powerboats
Point Standings: 11th
Best Finish: 8th – St. Petersburg – Race 2
Driver Input: “I’m excited to be racing in Long Beach. It will be my first time racing here, but I feel a special vibe as California is my favorite place and I have good friends in the area. I really look forward to getting back in the car on Friday, and I think the work we’ve done since St. Pete will help us step up in pace. We’re looking forward to getting some good results!
Juan Piedrahita – #5
Hometown: Bogota, Columbia
Residence: Indianapolis, Indiana
Sponsors: Petrosur, Coldeportes, Marca Columbia
Point Standings: 7th
Best Finish: 6th – St. Petersburg – Race 1
Driver Input: “Long Beach is the most prestigious street race in which we participate and it’s awesome to drive this track. We’ve been working really hard during the last couple of weeks to improve the car, and we had a couple of sim sessions and it went pretty good. I think we have a better car and we are sure we will be in the top-three. I really want to win and I will give my 100% this weekend.”
Series: Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires
Event: Round #2 – Grand Prix of Long Beach – Long Beach, Florida
Date: April 17-19, 2015