Australian driver Luke Gabin will return for a third season of Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda competition, joining series newcomers Exclusive Autosport alongside Parker Thompson.
Gabin will drive the team’s No. 91 Tatuus USF-17/Mazda beginning with the season’s official test days at Homestead-Miami Speedway next week.
“I am very excited that we have been able to secure Luke Gabin as our second driver in the USF2000 Championship for the 2017 season,” said Michael Duncalfe, Exclusive Autosport team principal. “Luke has been a strong competitor in his past two years of USF2000 competition and he will no doubt be a threat for the title in 2017. His experience and track knowledge are huge assets to our program. We had the opportunity to test Luke last fall, and we look forward to reuniting him in his #91 Exclusive Autosport AER USF-17 Tatuus in Homestead next week.”
Gabin, who resides in St. Petersburg, Florida during the racing season, has 32 career USF2000 starts in which he has posted 22 top-10 finishes (69%). He finished sixth overall in 2015, fifth overall last year and will now be gunning for the championship, which would provide him with his second Mazdaspeed Driver Development scholarship. Gabin won the Skip Barber Championship Shootout in 2014 to earn a scholarship to compete in USF2000 in 2015.
“I’m extremely excited to join the team of Exclusive Autosport, operated by Michael Duncalfe with Jay Green as the crew chief,” Gabin offered. “These leaders make me extremely confident about joining the squad. Having Parker Thompson as a teammate to help me learn from my mistakes is very valuable to me as a driver trying to improve. In 2017, I really hope to capitalize on my successes from 2016, earning more podiums and vying for a championship.”
Exclusive Autosport expects to add a third full-time driver for the season.
Donison lands with Cape Motorsports
Cape Motorsports has signed Rick Donison as its first driver for the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda season.
Donison, 18, will race the No. 2 JK Tyres car for the multi-time championship winning team. He is a winner of multiple national karting titles in his native country of India.
"We are really excited to have Ricky compete on behalf of our team this year,” offered team co-owners Dominic and Nicholas Cape. “The tests have gone well, and he has shown great improvement, so we're looking of big things from him."
Over the last four years, Donison has worked on his racecraft running the JK Tyres Rotax Max National karting series, launching his career with the ‘Best Newcomer of the Year Award’ in the Junior Max category in 2013. Donison swept the JK Tyres National Rookie Cup in 2014, winning all 10 races, and then went on to win eight out of 10 races in the National Kart Open Championship. The young driver then capped the season by winning the Rotax National Championship.
He moved to the Senior Max class in 2015 and again dominated the National Kart Open Championship, winning eight out of eight races. He extended his schedule to race the Rotax Max Asia Championship and was fourth overall, becoming the first Indian driver to finish in the top-five in the Asian program.
Donison once again dominated the JK Tyres Rotax National Championship, winning the title in his rookie year as a senior on the strength of five straight pole position starts and a four-for-five victory record. Last year, he dominated both the JK Tyres National Kart Open Championship and National Rotax Max Championship to extend his streak to three titles. In addition, he finished as the vice-champion in the Rotax Max Asia Championship, although an on-going technical protest could still result in him winning the title.
“I haven't done a great deal of running in cars yet, so it's going to be quite a big step moving up from karts, but I am really looking forward to racing the USF2000 series and taking the Mazda Road to Indy, especially because no other Indian has ever taken this route, so I will be the first,” Donison said. “Testing is going well so far and I am adapting to the car rather quickly, but I still have some work to do. I'll be sure to be there when it matters. My expectations aren't too high because it's my first year properly racing cars and my first year in the championship with new cars and tracks that I've never driven. I'm hoping to consistently be in the top-5 or 6 every race. I'm really looking forward to the first round in St. Petersburg!”