SASKATOON, SK (March 8, 2018) – Exclusive Autosport is a program in the midst of exciting growth, having extended its own internal ladder system this year from F1600 through USF2000 to Pro Mazda, the second level of the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires. The 2018 season looks incredibly bright for the Canadian racing team with their planned expansion into the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. Exclusive Autosport will begin the new MRTI season with a pair of Canadian drivers in Pro Mazda and a trio of talented pilots in USF2000. Veteran Parker Thompson will lead the charge in Pro Mazda, joined by rookie Antonio Serravalle. In USF2000, Jayson Clunie, Manuel Cabrera and Igor Fraga will chase the team’s fourth series victory, adding to the impressive three-win season delivered by Thompson in the team’s debut in 2017.
“I’m really excited about our expansion into Pro Mazda and having two Canadian drivers representing Exclusive Autosport,” enthused Michael Duncalfe, Team Principal. “We’ve shown well in testing and I’m confident that we will continue to be strong in St Pete.”
Exclusive Autosport made its debut on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires last March, scoring two top-five finishes in USF2000 with Parker Thompson at the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The team went on to sweep the street circuit weekend in Toronto in July and then turned up the heat with another win at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Spring-boarding off that success, the launch of the Pro Mazda program is extremely exciting and illustrates the team’s continuing focus on development and growth.
Thompson will begin his fourth season in the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires, advancing from a successful USF2000 stint. As the lead driver for Exclusive Autosport’s freshman season in USF2000, he worked deeply with the team in set-up development for the then-new Tatuus USF-17 and that experience is sure to be crucial as the team puts the new PM-18 on-track each weekend. Parker was consistently impressive at the official pre-season tests and is primed for a strong outing in St. Petersburg.
Thompson is paired with a fellow Canadian in Unionville, Ontario’s Antonio Serravalle, a 16-year-old open wheel rookie who will be making his MRTI debut as the youngest driver in the Pro Mazda paddock. Serravalle has been focused on national and international level shifterkart racing over the last two years and has won his share of races and championships in karting. His learning curve will be steep, for certain, but he has spent his career moving quickly up the ladder and he is no stranger to being faced with the need for rapid development. The focus for St. Petersburg will be to gain maximum track time in his first temporary circuit race.
Exclusive Autosport’s USF2000 squad features a unique mix of age and nationalities, led by returning team driver Jayson Clunie, who has been part of the EA family for many years. The 48-year-old Canadian made nine USF2000 series starts last year with a pair of top-10s on the streets of Toronto. Jayson has significant F1600 and F2000 experience, and was also an IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge champion in the ST class in 2012. He’ll enter the 2018 season with a much different mindset, having logged significant time in the USF-17.
Mexican driver Manuel Cabrera will make his Mazda Road to Indy debut this year, having spent the 2017 season competing in the Formula PanAm and Formula Master Asia series. The 17-year-old won the Formula PanAm championship and was rewarded with a ticket to the Mazda Road to Indy $200,000 Scholarship Shootout and was he also acknowledged as the Rookie of the Year in the Formula Master Asia program. Pre-season testing has been extremely productive, as Manuel’s comfort level has grown with each on-track session.
The third member of Exclusive Autosport’s trio of USF2000 was announced in late February, when the team confirmed Japanese-born Brazilian Igor Fraga for the 2018 season. Fraga is coming off two wins in the FIA Formula F NACAM Championship, and is ready to make his MRTI debut. The 18-year-old graduated from karts into open wheel cars in 2014, racing the Formula 3 Brazil Light and FIA Formula NACAM Championship, earning an impressive 17 wins. He was eventually crowned the Formula 3 Brazil Light champion in 2017. In the testing, Fraga has shown impressive speed and he has been very focused on quickly learning everything he needs to know about the USF2000 car and the program.
With pre-season testing now complete, the team is ready for the season opener for the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires in St. Petersburg this weekend (March 9-11). On-track action gets underway on Friday with practice and qualifying ahead of races for both USF2000 and Pro Mazda on Saturday and Sunday. Exclusive Autosport fans can follow the team’s performances through live streaming video on the Mazda Road to Indy app or www.roadtoindy.tv. Live video coverage is also available on the IndyCar.com Race Control page.