Home News D’Orlando and Zendeli win in USFP2000’s action-packed Road America races

D’Orlando and Zendeli win in USFP2000’s action-packed Road America races

by Ida Wood

Photo: Gavin Baker Photography

Michael d’Orlando and Lirim Zendeli were the winners in USF Pro 2000’s two races at Road America.

Race one on Saturday started with a lap behind the pace car, and d’Orlando held the lead from the rolling start on lap two before a caution period was called due to Jackson Lee spinning off deep into the gravel after contact with Yuven Sundaramoorthy.

Racing reumed on lap four and d’Orlando had to defend from Christian Weir. An off at turn eight dropped him fourth, and Myles Rowe took the lead before the race was put under a caution period again as Bijoy Garg and Zendeli had an incident at the Kink that required Garg’s car to be retrieved.

The next restart was on lap eight, and Reece Ushijima went around the outside of Rowe for the lead. Weir spun and d’Orlando was passed by Jordan Missig, but then he passed him back to keep the leaders in his sights.

Rowe reclaimed first place at turn one next time by, and Ushijima was fourth by the end of the lap as d’Orlando and Missig got through.

Joel Granfors then instigated another caution period on lap 10 by crashing into team-mate Salvador de Alba at turn one and the incident wiping out Jack William Miller too.

When racing resumed, d’Orlando moved to the head of the race and stayed there until the finish. Rowe briefly battled Missig then sprinted away with d’Orlando, and Jonathan Browne came through to finish fourth.

Race two on Sunday also began with a lap under yellow flag conditions as front row starters Weir and d’Orlando headed to the pits at the end of the warm-up lap having banged wheels.

That meant Zendeli led the field away on lap two, resisting a turn one attack from Browne. Francesco Pizzi relegated Browne to third before the end of the lap, and the top four – completed by Rowe – began to pull away.

Rowe passed Browne on lap four, then on lap six Pizzi went for the lead. He could not quite get the move done, and a lap later the race was put under a caution period as de Alba, Louka St.-Jean and Lee had an incident at turn five.

Pizzi did take the lead when racing resumed on lap nine, as Ushijima tried joining the lead group. Zendeli quickly reclaimed first place, while Missig got himself briefly into fifth ahead of Rowe, having started 17th. But he then got hit into a spin and had to pit, and Ushijima lacked the pace to stay with the front four.

One driver who could maintain a challenge was Porto though, and he benefitted from Browne and Pizzi fighting each other for second to pass both in a handful of corners and then follow home winner Zendeli as they continued to fight behind. Browne prevailed, with Pizzi falling to fifth behind Rowe.

Results round-up
Race 1 (15 laps)
1 Michael d’Orlando Turn 3 Motorsport 43m17.7583s
2 Myles Rowe Pabst Racing +0.8184s
3 Jordan Missig Pabst Racing +3.7215s
4 Jonathan Browne Turn 3 Motorsport +6.5670s
5 Kiko Porto DEForce Racing +7.8320s
6 Francesco Pizzi TJ Speed +8.7480s
7 Jace Denmark Pabst Racing +8.8814s
8 Louka St.-Jean Turn 3 Motorsport +10.2943s
9 Christian Weir TJ Speed +11.5238s
10 Yuven Sundaramoorthy Exclusive Autosport +12.5427s
Fastest lap: d’Orlando, 2m02.1514s

Race 2 (15 laps)
1 Lirim Zendeli TJ Speed 34m52.9460s
2 Porto +3.5879s
3 Browne +3.8863s
4 Rowe +4.9985s
5 Pizzi +5.9119s
6 Joel Granfors Exclusive Autosport +8.6213s
7 Denmark +9.1025s
8 Reece Ushijima JHDD +12.8912s
9 Ricardo Escotto JHDD +14.5012s
10 Salvador de Alba Exclusive Autosport +15.6048s
FL: Pizzi, 2m02.7698s

Championship standings
1 Rowe 209   2 Pizzi 161   3 Porto 159   4 Granfors 154   5 de Alba 142   6 Browne 142   7 Denmark 124   8 Ushijima 122   9 Zendeli 116   10 Jack William Miller 116