USF Pro Championships’ Sebring Test Bodes Well for Exciting 2024 Season
 December 12, 2023| 
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SEBRING, Fla. – The first test of USF Pro Championships Presented by Continental Tire wrapped up today at Sebring International Raceway. And judging by the closeness of the lap times, a thrilling season seems set to unfold in 2024.

Ideal conditions, a little warmer than yesterday, brought slightly faster lap times, especially as competitors began to gain a little more experience on the newly introduced Continental tires. Pabst Racing led the way in both USF Pro 2000 and USF2000 through the efforts of Christian Brooks, from Santa Clarita, Calif., and Sam Corry, from Cornelius, N.C., albeit by incredibly small margins. It was a similar story in USF Juniors where Jimmie Lockhart, from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., narrowly emerged fastest for VRD Racing.

A trio of Pabst Tatuus IP-22s topped the times in USF Pro 2000, separated by just 0.008 of a second. Brooks edged out 2023 USF2000 champion Simon Sikes, from Athens, Ga., and Jace Denmark, from Scottsdale, Ariz., as all three set their fastest times of the test during this morning’s opening session.

“The first outing with Pabst Racing went to plan," said Brooks. "The team has been incredible and gave me a very solid piece. I'm looking forward to getting some more seat time and dialing in the driving. More than ready to get back to work!"

Francesco Pizzi, from Rome, Italy, didn’t quite match his best time from yesterday for TJ Speed Motorsports, but still ended the test with the fourth fastest time at 1:00.538.

Nicolas Monteiro, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, found a significant improvement in this afternoon’s final session for DEForce Racing, vaulting to fifth overall on 1:00.550, ahead of Turn 3 Motorsport rookie Adam Fitzgerald, from Galway, Ireland.

Pabst Racing’s Corry picked up from where he left off on Monday by continuing to set the pace in USF2000.

Jay Howard Driver Development rookie Michael Costello, from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., was the first to eclipse Corry’s best from yesterday, turning a fastest lap of 1:03.221 in the opening session this morning, but Corry found a little more improvement just before the lunch break as he turned the fastest time of the two-day test at 1:03.186.

“Today went really well,” said Corry. “We were able to try a bunch of different things with the car and with the team. We were able to lead the pack and ended the day P1 as well. I am really happy with how the couple of days went here in Sebring. As we ran with the Continental tire on a longer run, we noticed that it doesn’t have a super hard fall off, it kind of stays plateaued and you are able to run consistent times. I really enjoyed the test and thank you to all the Pabst team for giving me such a fast race car.”

Remarkably, the top nine drivers today turned laps within a half-second of Corry’s best time. Costello’s time remained good enough for second, narrowly ahead of Max Garcia (Pabst Racing), from Miami, Fla., on 1:03.314, and Nico Christodoulou (VRD Racing), from Toronto, Ont., Canada, on 1:03.364.

A pair of rookies, Michael Boyiadzis (Jay Howard Driver Development), from Tampa, Fla., and Ayrton Houk (DC Autosport), from McCordsville, Ind., ended the day fifth and seventh, sandwiching Indianapolis, Ind.’s Elliot Cox, who posted his best time, 1:03.422 while topping the charts in the final session this afternoon.

There was a slightly larger improvement in lap times today for the USF Juniors competitors when compared to Monday, around four-tenths of a second. The level of intensity certainly ramped up, too, as no fewer than seven youngsters on the first rung of the USF Pro Championships Presented by Continental Tire ladder managed to eclipse Brazilian Bruno Ribeiro’s fastest Day One time of 1:06.455.

Lockhart, who placed fourth at the conclusion of his rookie season in USF Juniors, winning the final two races of the season at Circuit of The Americas, made a big jump this morning to turn what remained as the fastest lap of all at 1:06.055. Lockhart ended the day narrowly ahead of Hudson Potter, from Lexington, Ky., who posted a best of 1:06.126 in the middle session.

Also extremely close behind were Jay Howard Driver Development teammate G3 Argyros, from Newport Beach, Calif., who topped the charts in the final session on 1:06.189, and yesterday’s pacesetter Ribeiro, for DEForce Racing, whose best lap of 1:06.197 came in the first session this morning.

“Things have gone well today,” said Lockhart. “Yesterday was a bit of nuisance. We had a lot of issues and didn’t get out really much at all in the first two sessions. We were able to get out in the third session and get some times in and really be able to test the new tire. Day Two has been pretty good, to be on top all day and run without any issues. I definitely like the Continentals but they are a lot harder to handle because the sidewalls are a lot harder and have a lot less give to them, so they are a lot more snappy mid to exit but they definitely have a lot more grip. I think they will give us a lot more pace this year.”

Alex Popow (Exclusive Autosport), from Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, who was third quickest this morning on 1:06.202, and Ava Dobson (Jay Howard Driver Development), from Franklin, Wis., third fastest in the final session at 1:06.216, also were comfortably within two-tenths of a second of the front-running times.

The next official outing for USF Pro Championships will be Spring Training at NOLA Motorsports Park, just outside of New Orleans, La., on February 26-27.

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