Drivers in the Mazda Road to Indy have a lot on the line this weekend in northern California as all three series will settle their championship battles on a doubleheader weekend in the hills of Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. What makes the Road to Indy championship so important is the scholarship that comes with each title, aimed at moving said champion to the next level in the IndyCar development system. Frenchman Nico Jamin has all but sealed up the U.S.F. 2000 championship, and Santiago Urrutia would have to have a dismal weekend to lose the Pro Mazda crown to Neil Alberico, Timothe Buret, or Weiron Tan.
But the series which has everyone’s eyes in open wheel this weekend is Indy Lights, where Jack Harvey, bridesmaid in last year’s championship via tie with Gabby Chaves, leads the field by the skin of his teeth heading into the doubleheader, with Spencer Pigot and Ed Jones 6 and 18 points back, respectively.
Those three have been fighting tooth and nail all season, but one dark horse who has crept into the edge of the championship frame is 18-year old rookie RC Enerson. Enerson, who jumped from a runner-up finish in USF2000 last year to Lights this year, surprised many with a second-place finish at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, then dominated race 1 at Mid-Ohio last month en route to his first career Indy Lights win.
To date, the Floridian has shown marked improvement from track to track, but a Friday dedicated to dialing in set up left him lower on the charts. “Laguna Seca is a challenging track, it’s very car-based. If your car isn’t set up correctly you’ll know it in the car and you’ll see it on the speed charts.”
Enerson scored his first Indy Lights win at Mid-Ohio last month, and cited subtle similarities between the Mansfield, OH road course with Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, which could aid his No. 7 Lucas Oil team this weekend. “Mid-Ohio has a bit more variety of corners, where as Laguna Seca has a lot more similar corners, but there are a lot of similar corners between the two. Right now we’re just figuring things out to find the best setup and go out for qualifying and put it all out there.”
Sitting fourth in points and 36 points back from Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports teammate Jack Harvey, Enerson understands team importance, but also knows he has nothing to lose. “Of course you want to win, every driver wants to win. But I’m kind of in a spot where I can’t get overtaken in points”, said RC, who is 42 points ahead of fifth-place Max Chilton, “Jack (Harvey), (Ed) Jones, and (Spencer) Pigot all have to play it safe, so I’m just going to go out and try to rack up as many points as I can, and we’ll see where we land.”
The Indy Lights Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca presented by Cooper Tire is a doubleheader weekend for Indy Lights, with the entire Mazda Road to Indy and Pirelli World Challenge series sharing track time throughout the weekend. Indy Lights will qualify for Race 1 Saturday morning (8:45am PT), and will race at 3:45pm PT. Starting position for Race 2 will be determined via fastest lap in Race 1, and Race 2 will go green at 2:40pm PT, wrapping up the 2015 Indy Lights season. All races from the MRTI will be streamed live on IndyCar.com
Road to Indy Points Standings (italics = mathematically eligible to win championship)
1. Jack Harvey (GBR) 301
2. Ed Jones (GBR) -6
3. Spencer Pigot (USA) -18
4. RC Enerson (USA) -36
5. Max Chilton (GBR) -78
1. Santiago Urrutia (URU) 304
2. Neil Alberico (USA) -29
3. Timothe Buret (FRA) -47
4. Weiron Tan (MAL) -51
5. Patricio O’Ward (MEX) -72
1. Nico Jamin (FRA) 391
2. Jake Eidson (USA) -50
3. Aaron Telitz (USA) -87
4. Anthony Martin (AUS) -135
5. Parker Thompson (CAN) -196