Alberico Works Through Adversity to Top-Six Finishes
 May 2, 2014| 
  • Team News
Cape Motorsports Pro Mazda driver relentless in rounds three and four at Barber

REDLANDS, Calif. – California open-wheel formula car frontrunner Neil Alberico was in Alabama this past weekend (April 26-27) as he contested rounds three and four of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. The Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing driver ventured from his West Coast home in Redlands, Calif., to tackle the beautiful Barber Motorsports Park with the goal of improving on his results from the season opening event in St. Petersburg in March. Alberico was strong all weekend as he ran inside the top-six in all four official weekend sessions, taking fourth in Race #1 and sixth in Race #2 to place him sixth in the overall series standings after four races.  The 21-year-old worked aggressively to improve the balance of his racecar at Barber and the consistent improvement has placed him among the contenders of race wins for the rest of the 2014 schedule.

"We scored crucial points this past weekend at Barber that will keep us in this championship,” commented Alberico. “We just have to pick our battles each weekend and the results will come."

Arriving in Birmingham for the Thursday test day, Alberico was ready to improve on his pair of sixth place finishes that he logged at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in Florida last month. Alberico showed up ready to reacquaint himself with the 17-turn 2.3-mile long road course that the Pro Mazda series ran back in February during the Cooper Tire Winterfest. Despite struggling for speed during the test day, the first of two on-track sessions saw Alberico lay down the fourth fastest time with a 1:21.796. The second session of the day did not go as well for Alberico and his Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing team. Neil was only able to complete one lap in the second test session after making contact with the wall.

In Friday morning practice, preparing for qualifying, Alberico rebounded nicely from the issues that kept him off the track on Thursday afternoon. Running a total of 15 laps in the 30-minute session, Neil posted the sixth quickest time of the group, and was a mere eight tenths of a second off P1. Following practice, Pro Mazda teams filled the grid to begin qualifying. Alberico and his team worked hard preparing for qualifying, and the effort clearly paid off. On lap 13 of the session, Alberico found open track and laid down a lap time of 1:21.362, which was good enough for third on the grid. Alberico’s second best lap time was also good enough for a third-place start in the second race on Sunday morning.

The first of the weekend’s two races took place on Saturday afternoon. As drivers learned in practice and testing, overtaking was a feat that was easier said than done. The long sweeping corners that make Barber Motorsports Park so challenging are very aerodynamically challenging, putting the Pro Mazda race machines and their drivers to the test in each and every corner. Alberico unfortunately lost two positions in the opening lap as the green flag dropped on race one. Despite the challenge to pass, Alberico recovered one of the positions lost and finished Race One in the fourth position, his best result of the year.  Race Two proved just as difficult for Alberico as the outside line earned the jump at the start, which made Neil lose two positions on the inside lane. Unable to mount an offensive attack on the cars ahead of him, Alberico would finish back end of the doubleheader with a sixth-place finish, maintaining his record of top-six finishes.

"It has taken a tremendous amount of work by everyone on this Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing team to develop these new Pro Mazda cars,” Alberico explained. “Huge credit to our guys for all the late nights they’ve put in to make this opportunity possible. We have shown our ability to improve as we are getting closer and closer to that top step each and every race weekend. I’m very much looking forward to the month of May and all the excitement that it brings to Indianapolis."

Neil will now turn his focus to help Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing prepare for what is going to be a truly exciting month of May for the Mazda Road to Indy program. The Pro Mazda Championship series will take their traveling show to the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the series will hold rounds five and six inside IMS on the 2.4-mile long Grand Prix Circuit on May 9-10. Following the Grand Prix of Indy, Alberico will join the Pro Mazda series as they visit the Lucas Oil Raceway oval on May 24 for the popular Night Before the 500 festivities.

About Neil Alberico:
A native of Los Gatos, Calif., Alberico first started racing karts at the age of 10, competing in IKF Region 11 action. Over the course of four seasons (2004-07), the young talent captured the Junior Sportsman, Junior Super Sportsman, and Junior Puma championship titles. Continuing to race in the karting ranks while raising funds to pursue a career in motorsports, Alberico won the Snap-On Stars of Karting Series National finale in Las Vegas in 2009, before finishing third in the CKI National TaG Senior championship, and winning the 2010 TaG Senior class in the WSK North American Series. That same year, Alberico won the Bondurant Championship Race Series, winning 10 races as a junior formula car rookie. In 2011, Alberico made his European racing debut, competing in the world-renowned Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain with Irish-based Cliff Dempsey Racing. Finish ninth in his maiden FF season, the Californian earned a Team USA Scholarship, subsequently capturing a Semi-Final win and third place finish in the historic 40th Formula Ford Festival. Alberico joined the Mazda Road to Indy program in 2012, earning a podium finish and nine top-fives in his rookie season of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. The California standout followed that up with 11 wins in 2013, en route to the Cooper Tires Winterfest title and second in the USF2000 Championship with multiple champion Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing. For 2014, he has continued his relationship with CMWTR to run for the Pro Mazda Championship.
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