Cape Motorsports Posts Top-10 Finishes in Season Opener
 March 14, 2018| 
  • Team News
Cape PM StP 2018 Recap

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The 2018 Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires season is now fully underway, as Cape Motorsports enjoyed a strong weekend at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, running in both USF2000 and Pro Mazda. The team scored a win with Kyle Kirkwood in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, and they now lead the point standings leaving Florida.

They also carded four top-eight finishes in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, thanks to the consistent runs of Oliver Askew and Nikita Lastochkin. As the reigning USF2000 champion, Askew made his Pro Mazda debut running the ‘Soul Red’ Mazda scholarship colors and finished sixth and fifth in the doubleheader, which was run on the challenging 14-turn, 1.8-mile temporary street and airport circuit. Russian-born Lastochkin was extremely consistent as well, finishing eighth and seventh in the two races. 

“It was looking good after qualifying,” commented Dominic and Nicholas Cape. “Everyone did a great job, but unfortunately in Race 1, Oliver started on the pole and got careened into by another driver pulling a bonehead move in turn 1. Nikita avoided that and had a good solid opening race. In the second race, he had a strong run again. Oliver, unfortunately, tagged the wall on the first lap after the restart and drove as hard as he could for the remainder of the race. We’ll take a lot of positives from the first two rounds and come back much stronger at Barber.” 

Lastochkin and Askew were in the top-six following the initial Friday morning practice session at St. Pete, and when qualifying for Race 1 rolled around that afternoon, Oliver stepped up to the plate to grab his first Pro Mazda pole position with a lap of 1:08.103 to secure a front row starting spot.  Nikita was quick as well, and his best lap was good enough for seventh.  The Saturday morning qualifying session for Race 2 was a stark contrast, as two different red flag periods made it difficult to set a quick lap.  Oliver still managed to record the third fastest lap to lock in a row two starting spot, while Nikita would have work to do, qualifying ninth.

The start of the opening race of the weekend was wild, as British driver Harrison Scott made a bonzai move up the inside heading into turn one, completely blowing through the turn-in point. Askew was forced to check up and unwind the steering wheel, forcing him to push wide as well, allowing a handful of drivers to slip past. Askew settled into sixth while Lastochkin held station in seventh. Oliver fought his way back to fifth in the early going, and that would be it for advancement, as he began the year with top-five finish. Lastochkin ran extremely well and was turning lightning-fast lap times, and he finished in eighth.

The second race of the weekend late Sunday afternoon got off to a confusing start as a Race Control communication issue resulted in full restart after four laps were logged. The line-up was reset single file and once things got back underway, Askew jumped quickly to third while Lastochkin settled into 10th. Unfortunately, Oliver slipped by to seventh during the first half of the race and they held station through to the checkered flag. His pair of results from St. Pete have placed him sixth in the point standings to begin the season. Unlike Askew, Lastochkin was moving forward all race. Over the second half of the race, Nikita was able to get past both Lodivico Laurini and Rafa Martins for eighth and then took another spot to finish seventh in the final tally when Harrison Scott was forced to slow after losing his front wing. This result positioned Nikita to eighth in the championship standings heading to Barber Motorsports Park in April.

CAPE MOTORSPORTS – DRIVER RESULTS AND QUOTES

PRO MAZDA – ROUNDS 1/2 – MARCH 9-11, 2018

GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG – ST. PETERSBURG, FL

OLIVER ASKEW - #3

Qualifying 1: 1st – 1:08.103

Qualifying 2: 3rd – 1:08.517

Race 1: Start – 1st / Finish – 5th

Race 2: Start – 3rd / Finish – 6th

Driver Quote: “We’re capable of much greater results, and I think this tough weekend will make us a stronger team in the long run. We learned a great deal, and I believe our chance to stand on top of the podium will come very soon. In the end, it is most important to leave St. Pete with two solid finishes. I would like to thank the mechanics and engineers at Cape Motorsport for all their hard work this weekend."

NIKITA LASTOCHKIN - #8

Qualifying 1: 7th – 1:08.766

Qualifying 2: 9th – 1:09.082

Race 1: Start – 7th / Finish – 8th

Race 2: Start – 9th / Finish – 7th

Driver Quote: “Overall, I am quite happy with how the weekend went. Even though Q1 was unfortunate with traffic and Q2 with how red flags went put us down the order, the races went quite well. My R1 pace was just 0.1 off the fastest lap once I got clear air and R2 gave me the opportunity to move up and grab points. Keeping the car safe and getting points is what St. Pete is all about and I think it went well. Cape Motorsports gave me a great car capable of winning both races, now it’s a matter of me getting the job done in qualifying and I think we are looking good for the season!”

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