Tough Weekend in Texas for Belardi Auto Racing
 March 27, 2019| 
  • Team News
Belardi COTA recap 2019

Austin, Texas – Rounds three and four of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires proved to be a difficult one for the Belardi Auto Racing team and its three drivers, Julien Falchero, Lucas Kohl, and Zachary Claman.

The Friday morning practice began with issues for the No. 4 Dallara of Julien Falchero. After reporting an engine issue on track, the Frenchman pulled his car to pit lane, where a fire proceeded at the back of the car ending his session early. The Belardi Auto Racing crew proved once again their skill, as they completed a complete engine change in just over three hours, getting Julien out for the 30-minute qualifying session.

Getting out on track just in time to complete a total of seven laps, Falchero ended up qualifying eighth, but knowing that he had the car underneath him to mix things up in race one.

Race One was a wild one, seeing five-wide going into Turn 1. As drivers began getting their rhythm and settling in, Falchero found himself locked into an intense battle with series veteran Ryan Norman for sixth place. Eventually that battle widened and was a train of cars all fighting for fourth place. On lap four out of 20, the 79 car and 48 car made contact forcing both cars of track and the 79 car out of position, moving Julien into the fifth position. Two laps later, Falchero again brought the fight to the car in front of him, this time battling with the 21 car for the fourth position. The rest of the race was spent conserving tires and trying to move up as many spots as possible, when on the last lap Falchero found two positions. The No. 2 machine had issues and slowed way off the pace, moving Julien back to the fifth position. Going through the last set of turns, it was Falchero getting around the 48 machine and getting his best finish in Indy Lights in fourth place.

Qualifying for race two was a bit of a struggle for Falchero ending the session in the same position (eighth) as in their first qualifying session, due to yet another engine issue.  Julien however was not discouraged knowing he could make up positions just like he did in race one.

Race two for Falchero once again saw him moving through the field. Following his Belardi teammate Zachary Claman, the pair began setting some of the fastest laps of the race and working to get around the other cars on track. Falchero did his best all race long to match his best finish of fourth, but ultimately settled for fifth place. Julien Falchero is seventh in points, only 32 points out of first place.

“It was a really difficult weekend for me and the No. 4 guys. We had a lot of issues making it hard to work on a setup because of the limited track time in practice and qualifying. On the bright side, we were able to get good points and score our best finish so far this season!” – Julien Falchero

It was also a tough weekend for the Brazilian Lucas Kohl, who tied his best Indy Lights finish of seventh in race two. Practice saw Kohl and his No. 4 Dallara turning a total of 17 laps around the 3.41-mile course, recording a best time of 1:58.6 putting him in the ninth position.

Qualifying for race one saw a major improvement for the rookie, knocking off over a second from his practice time, giving him the seventh starting position.

At the start of race one, Kohl found himself spun around at the top of the hill in Turn 1 resulting from contact with his teammate Zachary Claman. The No. 5 car had rear wing damage, so Lucas did all he could to hold onto his position. He did an admirable job, ultimately only letting his teammate past him, finishing in the eighth position after an intense battle with the 67 machine of Dalton Kellett.

The second qualifying session saw even more improvement from the rookie, knocking an additional two tenths off of his best time from the first qualifying session. Unfortunately, this did not result in a better starting position for Kohl, he would finish the session qualified ninth.

Race two was less eventful for Kohl, settling in quickly and making laps. As the race started to wind down, Lucas was battling with Dalton Kellett when the 67 machine ran into the back of Lucas sending him spinning. The checkered flag flew and Lucas found himself coming home seventh, after race control gave the 67 car a 30 second time penalty for the contact. Lucas Kohl heads into the month of May sitting ninth in the points 45 points out of first place.

“It was a difficult weekend for me and Belardi Auto Racing. We struggled to find the pace, but could capitalize with some moves during the race. I was also able to use the restarts to my advantage and jump past some guys going into Turn 1. I am focused on Indy now and getting ready for the biggest month of the year.” – Lucas Kohl

Zachary Claman went into COTA the points leader, with a win and a pole position but unfortunately was not able to replicate his St. Pete results. Practice was hopeful because none of the Belardi cars went to new tires at the end of the session like all other teams did, so there was at least another second to pick up. 

Going into qualifying one, Zachary knew he had a good car and was excited to see what kind of time he could lay down. Going getting through the first turn, Zachary radioed the team saying his car was stopping. The team later figured out it was a fuel pickup issue, meaning Zach would not get a chance to lay down a lap in qualifying and would start last in race one.

Zachary took the mindset into race one that he was going to drive aggressively and not waste time behind other cars. He was going to the front. That all came to a halt when going into Turn 1 on the inside, he locked up his brakes and unfortunately got into his teammate Lucas Kohl. Zach was then given a drive through penalty ultimately killing any chance at a decent finish, and he would up in seventh.

The second qualifying session went much smoother for Claman, recording a best lap time of 1:56.0 putting him sixth in the lineup. Zach said before the race that instead of trying to plan his move in turn one like he did in race one, he was just going to drive hard and wherever a hole opened up, he was going to take it.

That strategy worked out very well for him as he began to pick cars off one at a time, working his way all the way to fourth and chasing down the third place car. Six laps from the finish, Zach came over the radio saying that his engine was running, but he could not go anywhere. He was instructed to pull over to the side, and wait for the race to be finished. Zach would wind up finishing tenth. Zachary heads into the biggest month of the year sitting third in points 16 points out of first.   

“This was a tough weekend all around for the team and myself. Two mechanical issues sidelined us in qualifying and race two, and that hurts when it’s out of your control. I am going to get in the gym, and get focused on the Indy road course, and the Freedom 100. I am going into Indianapolis with the mindset of winning all three races and re-claiming the points lead. There is no give up on this team, and I am absolutely not going to give up.” – Zachary Claman

Bealrdi Auto Racing heads into the biggest month of the year excited to race in their backyard. The month kicks off for the team on May 9th with practice for the Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
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