Late to the party, Franzoni still relishes Pro Mazda oppoprtunity

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It has been an interesting road for Victor Franzoni to this point.

The 21-year-old Brazilian is currently second in the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires standings following a pair of runner-up finishes in the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg doubleheader.

Competing in the second rung of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires ladder, sanctioned by INDYCAR, Franzoni is a favorite for the title after becoming a late addition at Juncos Racing – the team that has two previous Pro Mazda championships with current Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Conor Daly (2010) and Spencer Pigot (2014).

Franzoni competed all last year with ArmsUp Motorsports in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda, scoring three wins and finishing third in the first-level MRTI series’ championship. That came after he split the 2015 season between USF2000 and Pro Mazda. All signs pointed to 2017 being another USF2000 campaign with ArmsUp until the opportunity to get back to Pro Mazda developed.

“The compass was showing another season in USF2000, but at the last moment this Pro Mazda opportunity showed up and we decided it would be better for the future plans,” said Franzoni, who won in his USF2000 debut in 2014 at St. Petersburg.

“I don´t have enough words to thank ArmsUp for the readiness in which they put in my hands the cars to do USF2000 one more year and I know they understand that the Pro Mazda series was the natural way to go for me. Big thanks to them.”

The five-time USF2000 race winner over three seasons has a familiar foe this year in Anthony Martin of Cape Motorsports, who claimed the 2016 USF2000 title. Despite getting a late jump, there is an added to push to get one over on his championship rival and last year’s dominant Pro Mazda squad, Team Pelfrey.

“We started at the last moment and have to face fantastic opponents in Team Pelfrey and Anthony Martin,” said Franzoni, driver of the No. 23 Juncos Racing Mazda. “It is now in our hands to work hard to bridge those little gaps that make the difference between second spots and victories.”

A natural fit for his passion and ability, Franzoni called the move to Juncos smooth since his arrival.

“I have been very lucky in my career here in the U.S. to have always been at teams that are really racing families; people that have the same fighting spirit and knowledge and that are ready to give their drivers always the best,” said Franzoni. “The transition has been seamless.”

With a long break until Pro Mazda races again at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course May 11-13, Franzoni is staying active and focused with workouts, sponsorship meetings and additional racing in his home country.

“(I’m going to) continue my physical fitness program,” said Franzoni, who started racing karts at age 4. “A lot of go-karting, working to help my young drivers, a series of meetings with sponsors in Brazil and also a race there in historical stock car racing, in a car prepared by my father.”

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