Carlin’s 2017 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires team will burst in to action this weekend as the opening round of the season takes place at St. Petersburg, Florida. Carlin, the reigning champions, will field a total of four cars on the prestigious Mazda Road to Indy ladder this year with a strong line up consisting of Neil Alberico, Zach Claman DeMelo, Garth Rickards and Matheus Leist. The opening event of the season will consist of the first two rounds of the 16 round season.
Carlin in the past has been a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the opening race weekend of the season. In 2015, their debut season, Carlin’s Ed Jones blitzed not only to pole position for both races but secured the opening two race victories of the year. Last year, Félix Serrallés started in similar style taking the first race win of 2016. The track, clearly a favourite of the team, will once again play host to the opening event as the season gets underway.
The streets of St Petersburg offer a bumpy 1.8 mile circuit for the drivers to contend with; taking place in downtown St Petersburg the track also uses two runways of Albert Whitted Airport around the 14 turn configuration. The circuit has been a firm favourite of the series since its first race there in 2005 – returning every year since, generally as the season opener.
Remaining with the team for a second season Alberico looks ahead to the upcoming season following a solid 2016 with Carlin. He said, “Driving around the streets of St. Pete is such a fun event to kick off the season. The Indy Lights series is shaping up to be an incredibly competitive field once again and I’m looking forward to being a part of that championship fight.”
Also with a year under his belt in the competitive series is Canadian racer Claman DeMelo who joins the team for his second season. Claman DeMelo said, “I’m very excited for the start of season. I'm looking forward to what I believe will be a strong year with Carlin and I can't wait to show what I can do at St Pete this weekend.”
Joining the team for his first Indy Lights race Garth Rickards said, “I always love St. Pete because it’s a fresh start to a new year and it always has a very upbeat vibe to it that gets me exited every year. The track is an absolute blast to race on and the fans are some of the best fans we see all year. I’m excited to see everyone around the paddock and get back into a rhythm with the 2017 season.”
BRDC British Formula Three Champion and fellow Indy Lights rookie Leist added, “I’m looking forward to the upcoming season; the testing that we’ve done in lead up to this event has gone well and I think we’re well prepared ahead of St Pete.”
Racing director Trevor Carlin said of the opening race of the season, “The whole team is ready to get the season underway after a long winter of preparations with our four drivers. We have a talented team and I can’t wait to see what they can do at St Pete this weekend. It’s looking like it’s going to be another incredibly tough and competitive season but we’re ready for the challenge and look forward to mounting our title defence.”