For Immediate Release : Exclusive Autosport
Parker Thompson posts third fastest time of the weekend on IMS road course
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (October 22, 2017) – After capping the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda campaign as one of the series’ leading teams with three wins over the second half of the season, Exclusive Autosport expanded its efforts to include a Pro Mazda Championship program for the coming year. The team rolled out their new Tatuus PM-18s at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the annual Chris Griffis Memorial Test this past weekend, fielding a pair of cars for MRTI veterans Parker Thompson and Nikita Lastochkin. Exclusive Autosport also tested SCCA Runoffs Formula E runner-up Justin Gordon at the event in one of their USF-17 cars, pairing him with Thompson to give the young American his first taste of USF2000 machinery. The overall results were extremely positive, as Thompson was quickly up to speed in the new Pro Mazda, setting the third fastest time of the weekend.
“I’m extremely happy with the weekend overall,” commented EA owner Michael Duncalfe. “We laid out a set plan for the test and checked all the boxes. We were able to put our second PM-18 through the paces and give Parker the laps he needed to come to grips with the new package, which is awesome. Parker worked with our engineering staff to dial in the car, and we ended with the third fastest lap of the weekend, which is a huge positive.
“It was an absolute pleasure working with Nikita,” Duncalfe added. “I’ve had the opportunity to watch him compete the past four years in F1600, USF2000 and Pro Mazda. It was an honour to have Nikita test with us for both days at Indianapolis. He provided great feedback and helped in the development process of the EA PM18 car. Nikita had a really strong handle on the car, which was impressive. He gelled with the staff immediately and we were able to continually develop his set-up and increase his comfort. Getting to work with Justin (Gordon) was very enjoyable, as well. The USF-17 is a big step up from the FE, but he was very easy to work with and we were able to support his quick development. He found over 1.5 seconds during the eight sessions. He was over 2.5 seconds off the experienced series drivers in Session 1, and was less than a second off in the last run of the weekend. That’s a major success in my books.”
The Exclusive Autosport crew was on its game heading into the Chris Griffis Memorial Test after taking possession of their second PM-18 chassis just days before the event. The team built the car in Wisconsin, and completed the prep in time for Thompson to run a pair of sessions at Indy on Saturday to break in the ring-and-pinion while shaking down the car. Parker had worked with the EA staff over the last month to manage the break-in laps of the team’s first new Pro Mazda, and he was given the chance to get out on-track in anger on Sunday, and the talented Canadian responded as expected. As he came to grips with the vastly increased performance of the new PM-18 quickly, and would eventually set the third fastest lap of the weekend in the process. Lastochkin completed a strong two-day test, and worked closely with the team to fine-tune the chassis to his liking, which resulted in consistently fast laps all weekend.
“I have to thank my team for their dedication in building a pair of PM-18s on short notice, they’re nothing short of amazing” Duncalfe continued. “We’d like to express our gratitude to Elite Engines for their hard work and hospitality. They are absolute professionals and a pleasure to partner with.”
The team will now look forward to continuing off-season testing, as they will be working with several drivers as they begin to solidify their line-ups for their run at two 2018 championship trophies on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires. It’s been an exciting testing season thus far, as the team also ran USF2000 runner-up Rinus VeeKay at both Road America and Autobahn during the weeks leading up to the IMS test.