Turn 3 Motorsport’s Christian Brooks took a lights-to-flag win in the opening USF Pro 2000 race of 2023 on the streets of St. Petersburg.
Last year Brooks only contested practice and qualifying in St. Petersburg, being on course for pole before a car-wrecking crash that put him out for the whole season.
This year he only has a deal for one weekend, and has made the most of it so far with pole and victory in the series’ first race under its new name.
Racing did not actually start in the season-opening race until lap two, with the field not correctly in position for the rolling start to occur on lap one, and Brooks cleanly led the chasing pack into Turn 1.
There was drama at Turn 4 as Richard Escotto had a big lock-up then Jordan Missig cut across Christian Weir going into the corner and spun around. Escotto had to head to the pits for a new front wing, Weir also got turned around but kept going while Missig was out on the spot and Michael d’Orlando had to pit too.
Profiting from the drama were Lirim Zendeli and Joel Granfors who started 19th and 20th on the grid and were into the top 10 before a caution period was called.
Escotto was already back onto the rear of the pack by the time racing resumed on lap seven, and this time the field got through a whole lap cleanly.
Kiko Porto and Myles Rowe had passed front-row starter Francesco Pizzi before the caution, and Porto kept himself in the leader’s mirrors through the first few laps after the restart.
Brooks at one point grew his lead to two thirds of a second, but Porto kept it at 0.4s for much of the time until the second caution period occurred on lap 22 of 25 after Nicholas Monteiro came to a stop on track.
Rowe had just dropped out of distance for being able to fight Porto but was brought right back onto his gearbox by the race neutralisation, and the battle between debutants Francesco Pizzi and Reece Ushijima for fourth was only paused for two laps as racing resumed with two laps left to run.
Brooks mastered the restart and held on to win ahead of his two chasers, while Ushijima tried passing Pizzi at Turn 1 on the last lap but made a mistake and lost a place.
Granfors finished in the top 10, but Zendeli finished towards the back after pitting just before the second caution period.
Race result (25 laps)
|1||Christian Brooks||Turn 3 Motorsport||36m34.8986s|
|2||Kiko Porto||DEForce Racing||+0.6144s|
|3||Myles Rowe||Pabst Racing||+0.9846s|
|4||Francesco Pizzi||TJ Speed||+3.8959s|
|6||Jace Denmark||Pabst Racing||+4.1181s|
|7||Salvador De Alba||Exclusive Autosport||+5.7994s|
|8||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Exclusive Autosport||+5.8004s|
|9||Joel Granfors||Exclusive Autosport||+6.9178s|
|10||Jonathan Browne||Turn 3 Motorsport||+7.4413s|
|11||Jackson Lee||Turn 3 Motorsport||+8.2313s|
|12||Bijoy Garg||DEForce Racing||+10.3888s|
|13||Lindsay Brewer||Exclusive Autosport||+11.0135s|
|14||Jack William Miller||Miller Vinatieri Motorsport||+37.6407s|
|15||Ricardo Escotto||JHDD||+1 lap|
|16||Lirim Zendeli||TJ Speed||+1 lap|
|17||Christian Weir||TJ Speed||+1 lap|
|18||Michael d’Orlando||Turn 3 Motorsport||+2 laps|
|19||Nicholas Monteiro||NeoTech Motorsport||+5 laps|
|Ret||Jordan Missig||Pabst Racing|
|Fastest lap: Pizzi, 1m09.8697s|