Home News Ariel Elkin wins opening USF Juniors race at Barber shortened by crash

Ariel Elkin wins opening USF Juniors race at Barber shortened by crash

by Ida Wood

Photo: Gavin Baker Photography

International Motorsport’s Ariel Elkin won USF Juniors’ opening race at Barber Motorsports Park, which was shortened due to a huge crash.

Pre-event testing, practice and qualifying took place on Thursday. Exclusive Autosport’s Jack Jeffers set a 1m25.7804s to lead Elkin by 0.1488 seconds in testing, with DEForce Racing’s Leandro Juncos and Velocity Racing Development’s points leader Sebastian Wheldon 0.154s and 0.219s behind in third and fourth.

Elkin beat team-mate Augusto Soto-Schirripa to top spot by 0.1416s in practice, which was skipped by seven drivers and featured a slower pace at the top, then the field was split into two groups for qualifying.

A 1m25.9277s put DEForce’s Bruno Ribeiro 0.0022s ahead of Soto-Schirripa in group one, with Exclusive’s Evan Cooley 0.0124s behind in third, but it was only good enough for second on the race one grid as Elkin set a 1m25.5502s to top group two and take pole. Jeffers was 0.0861s slower than him to qualify third.

Damaging his car earlier in the day meant VRD’s Michael Suco missed qualifying but he was allowed to start race one on Friday, while Jay Howard Driver Development’s Hudson Potter was slowest in the second qualifying group and missed the race.

Elkin nailed race one’s rolling start, as Jeffers passed Ribeiro for second. There was drama at turn 10 as JHDD’s Timothy Carel broke his front wing and it was sheared off by another car two corners later, requiring him to pit.

Lap three ran behind the pace car, then the field got racing again. On lap five Cooley tried passing Soto-Shirripa for fourth at turn one and almost went off, costing him fifth to JHDD’s Liam McNeilly. Earlier this week it was announced that the 18-year-old McNeilly has become a protege of former IndyCar star James Hinchcliffe through his Speed Group company.

Elkin kept Jeffers at bay until another caution period on lap 10 due to Skip Barber Racing’s Jeshua Allanel crashing out at turn one. Racing resumed on lap 14, but only briefly because just as the field returned to racing speed there was a crash involving DEForce’s Patricio Gonzalez and VRD’s Christian Cameron.

The next restart was on lap 18, and Soto-Schirripa went down the inside of Ribeiro at turn one. At turn four there was a huge crash, leading to the race ending behind the pace car and a lap early.

Ribeiro had spun at the uphill corner’s crest, and most of the cars behind avoided him but Zanella Racing’s Leonardo Escorpioni clipped his rear wing with his own. JHDD’s Ava Dobson then ploughed into Ribeiro’s backwards-facing car, and Carel crashed into her car. Zanella’s Diego Guiot also retired by going off in avoidance. All the drivers involved appeared to be able to vacate their cars according to television pictures.

Ribeiro’s spin meant everyone in the top 10 gained a place, with McNeilly and Cooley moving up to fourth and fifth ahead of Wheldon, Juncos, VRD’s Max Taylor and Exclusive’s Joao Vergara. Taylor had passed Vergara on lap seven.

Race result (19 laps)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Ariel Elkin International Motorsport 38m33.9642s
2 Jack Jeffers Exclusive Autosport +2.3517s
3 Augusto Soto-Schirripa International Motorsport +3.2046s
4 Liam McNeilly JHDD +4.0585s
5 Evan Cooley Exclusive Autosport +5.0442s
6 Sebastian Wheldon VRD +5.4972s
7 Leandro Juncos DEForce Racing +6.9010s
8 Max Taylor VRD +7.6472s
9 Joao Vergara Exclusive Autosport +8.9296s
10 Teddy Musella Zanella Racing +9.6719s
11 G3 Argyros JHDD +10.5525s
12 Brady Golan DEForce Racing +11.4792s
13 Adyen Ingratta JHDD +12.1700s
14 Rodrigo Gonzalez DEForce Racing +13.2669s
15 Anthony Martella Exclusive Autosport +13.9135s
16 Michael Suco VRD +14.6951s
17 Giovanni Cabrera Exclusive Autosport +15.4304s
18 Aidan Potter JHDD +16.7484s
Ret Bruno Ribeiro DEForce Racing
Ret Leonardo Escorpioni Zanella Racing
Ret Ava Dobson JHDD
Ret Diego Guiot Zanella Racing
Ret Timothy Carel JHDD
Ret Patricio Gonzalez DEForce Racing
Ret Christian Cameron VRD
Ret Jeshua Alianell DEForce Racing
Fastest lap: Jeffers, 1m26.1906s

Championship standings
Wheldon 105   2 McNeilly 100   3 Elkin 90   4 Taylor 75   5 Jeffers 72   6 Soto-Schirripa 56   7 Vinicius Tessaro 46   8 Cooley 46   9 Juncos 39   10 Ribeiro 37