There were two distinct winners in this afternoon’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Grand Prix of Monterey Powered by Mazda.
Brazilian Victor Franzoni repeated his form from yesterday to dominate the final race of the season and ensure a clean sweep of the weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the ArmsUp Motorsports team, while Australian Anthony Martin finished second for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing to clinch the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
Martin will receive a scholarship to graduate into the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, the next step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel driver development program, in 2017.
Martin’s teammate and title rival Parker Thompson, from Red Deer, Alb., Canada, finished third.
No one could hold a candle to Franzoni this weekend. He started on the pole for the second straight day, jumped immediately into the lead at the start and then controlled the race from the front. He posted what was to stand as the fastest lap of the race on his fourth trip around the challenging 2.238-mile road course to ensure a perfect score of 33 points for the second day in a row and cement his third position in the championship. Franzoni took the checkered flag a full 10.1026 seconds clear of Martin after 21 laps of green-flag racing.
After a mediocre start by Martin enabled Thompson to move into second place before Turn Two, the Australian redressed the balance with a forceful move as the field streamed back down the hill into Wayne Rainey Curve. Martin went on to secure his 11th podium finish of the 16-race season.
Another pair of Australians, Jordan Lloyd (Pabst Racing) and Luke Gabin (JAY Motorsports), completed the top five ahead of Los Angeles-based Russian Nikita Lastochkin (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing).
An entertaining battle for seventh place saw China’s Yufeng Luo (Pabst Racing) and New York, N.Y., teenager Robert Megennis (Team Pelfrey) exchange positions several times before Luo finally came out on top following a last-lap pass. Brazil’s Lucas Kohl (John Cummiskey Racing) finished hot on their heels in ninth ahead of Dakota Dickerson (Afterburner Autosport), who, along with Phillippe Denes (Team Pelfrey), found a way past Cameron Das (JAY Motorsports) for 10th and 11th places on the last lap.
Dickerson clinched the Tilton Hard Charger Award with a gain of four positions from 14th to 10th, while the Staubli Award went to Cameron Das of JAY Motorsports.
The PFC Award went to the race-winning team, ArmsUp Motorsports.
Anthony Martin (Burgess BLS Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing: “This means so much - and that’s all due to the Mazda Road to Indy. It was a roller coaster ride this year, swapping first and second in the championship with Parker (Thompson) but I was able to pull through with a strong run in the last half of the season. Without that, the championship wouldn’t have been possible and of course, without the team and my sponsors none of this would be possible. I can’t thank everyone enough. It is a lot of weight off my shoulders in finding the budget to do next season.
I really do love racing against Parker. We race really hard - but fairly. I knew where I needed to finish all weekend and I managed that quite well. The first race was a bit rough but the Cape boys gave me great car in the second race. I don’t know how that move of mine worked but it just happened to work out as it needed to. To be able to do it coming out of the Corkscrew is quite special for me.”
Victor Franzoni (Rotary Systems Inc./Novac Sports ArmsUp Motorsports): “This weekend was amazing, 100 percent perfect. We led every session this weekend. I wanted the championship but I knew it would be hard. It was a great year for me. I’d like to thank the ArmsUp team for the car they gave me. It was great to work with them. The guys were great and so fun and we had a lot of fun. I hope I can be with them all my life because those guys - what they do for the driver – nobody else in the world can do. I’m really happy and now we start to work for next season.”