Mazda Road to Indy veteran Nikita Lastochkin and rookie Carlos Cunha will race in the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires in 2017 as part of Team Pelfrey’s three-car lineup.
The 26-year-old Lastochkin, who has competed in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda the last two seasons, returns to Team Pelfrey, which he raced for in 2014 and 2015.
"To be back with Team Pelfrey means being back with the same people that I started my career with and I am very excited,” Lastochkin said. “The goal would be to focus on our strengths, keep working on the areas we can improve and let the results take care of themselves. Overall, I'm just happy to be back on the Mazda Road to Indy and looking forward to the year ahead."
The Los Angeles-based Russian scored 11 top-10 finishes and finished eighth in USF2000 with Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing in 2016.
“This is fantastic news for Team Pelfrey,” said general manager Jonathan Baker. “Nikita has been with us before in F1600 and USF2000, and being able to welcome him back to our Pro Mazda team is just so cool. He has shown us over the past few years that on his day, he is one of the quickest drivers out there, and we are looking forward to helping him achieve top results in Pro Mazda. On top of everything, he is simply a great guy. We are proud to have him back."
Cunha, 17, moves to North America after spending the last eight years competing in numerous race circuits, including Formula 3 Brazil where he collected wins and multiple podiums.
“I am super excited to be with Team Pelfrey,” the Brazilian said. “They have the structure for me to further develop my career at this new stage in the United States. My only experience was in the Brazilian and European motorsport arena, so it was a pleasant surprise to find out how well developed the Mazda Road to Indy system is. I am really looking forward to getting the season started in St Petersburg.”
Karting standout Gore to race with Exclusive Autosport
Exclusive Autosport will run a third car in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season for karting standout Dev Gore’s first season in race cars.
The 19-year-old Atlanta native will pilot the No. 92 Exclusive Autosport / AER Apartments entry for the series newcomers, who have been among the frontrunners in the Canadian F1600 series.
“2017 is going to be an interesting year in USF2000,” Gore said. “This was such a last-minute deal, so I am happy to be able to get onboard with a team as stacked as Exclusive Autosport. I believe that I will have the best support between my two teammates (Parker Thompson and Luke Gabin) and crew.
“Michael Duncalfe has pulled out all the stops in securing the best mechanics, engineers and crew chief. I also have two of the strongest teammates that I could ask for working together for the benefit of our program. I am extremely confident in both Parker and Luke to work together with Jay Green, the engineers and myself in order to come home with race wins and strong results for the three of us. I am looking forward to a very strong year.
Gore is an accomplished kart racer who won two American Rotax DD2 championships in 2016, taking home the US Open and US Rotax Grand National titles. He’s also been part of the powerhouse Andersen Karting Team, winning races and championships for the Florida-based operation. Gore was also selected as one of two winners in the MRTI Maxspeed Driver Advancement program last year, which provided him with the opportunity to drive a USF2000 car in October at the Chris Griffis Memorial Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“I am very excited about working with Dev,” said Michael Duncalfe, President and CEO of Exclusive Management, Inc. “He has an impressive karting resume and immense racecraft. He is a welcomed addition to our team. He will no doubt be a contender for Rookie of the Year and challenging upfront. We are thrilled to welcome Dev to our program and look forward to kicking off the season in St. Petersburg in a couple of weeks.”