Derani and Team Pelfrey Take Third in Season Opener
 March 31, 2014| 
  • Team News
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. – There were plenty of positives for Team Pelfrey when the new Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires season began with a pair of races as part of the Allied Building Products Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The highlights were posted by up-and-coming Brazilian Pipo Derani, who took a solid fourth on Saturday and added a podium finish on Sunday morning to secure third place in the early season point standings. The results for teammates Dalton Kellett and Brandon Newey weren’t as strong but both drivers still emerged from the weekend full of optimism for the long season ahead.

The trio found themselves languishing on the edge of the top 10 during the opening practice sessions on Friday, but steady improvements throughout the weekend led to the distinctive yellow Team Pelfrey cars showing much more competitive form.

The start of Saturday’s Race 1 was delayed several hours by a severe storm and finally saw the green flag at a little before 7:00 p.m., by which time the track was dry and the sun was shining. Derani made up two places within the first two laps and remained in touch with the leaders virtually throughout before settling for fourth place. Kellett made a lightning getaway to vault from 13th to sixth before slipping back to ninth at the finish. Newey also moved up, from 12th to eighth, until an incident on the final lap dropped him to 16th.

Race 2, held in brilliant sunshine on Sunday morning, brought another fine effort from Derani, who made up two positions at the standing start, then out-braked Saturday’s third-place finisher, Scott Hargrove, to assume the final podium position. Newey and Kellett once again didn’t have much luck, with Newey damaging his car’s suspension when he clipped one of the unforgiving walls, but at least both drivers made it to the finish line.

Team Pelfrey will return to action for Rounds 3 and 4 when the entire Mazda Road to Indy ladder system once again runs in conjunction with the Verizon IndyCar Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama on April 26/27.

WHAT THE DRIVERS SAID:
Dalton Kellett (#80 Team Pelfrey/K-Line Insulators USA, Inc./Gap Guard) - Race 1, started 13th, finished ninth; Race 2, started 15th, finished 11th:
“Generally, I would say it was a good weekend. The final results weren’t as I would want to be but in terms of the direction we found with the car and with my driving, and working the engineers and the driver coaches here at Team Pelfrey, I think we know what I need to do in terms of my driving to get me up closer to the front, so that’s definitely a positive step. Also, the fans here in St. Petersburg are great and it’s awesome to be a part of the Verizon IndyCar Series.”

Pipo Derani (#81 Team Pelfrey/Alan Lewis Consulting/Gap Guard) - Race 1, started sixth, finished fourth; Race 2, started sixth, finished third: “It was a new track for me, a new experience, and it’s very good to see that every time we go out we make the car better. It was a bit tricky getting used to the different setup we came here with this weekend, but I think we managed to overcome our problems and we’re getting better bit by bit, so I’m happy with what the team achieved this weekend. Overall, standing third after all the problems we’re had leading up to here is not bad at all. We’re not there yet but we’re going to get there. The championship is long and I need to thank my sponsors and my team for this great opportunity to be here.”

Brandon Newey (#82 Team Pelfrey/Mygale Race Cars/Gap Guard) - Race 1, started 12th, finished 16th; Race 2, started 12th, finished 18th: “It’s been a really great weekend working with the Team Pelfrey guys. We had a really good car all weekend, just getting better and better each session, and in today’s race we had a really good start. Unfortunately, we had to start 12th with how the red flag worked in qualifying for us – it was sort of bad timing – but we were up to around eighth after the second lap and then I was pressuring another guy and unfortunately tagged the inside wall in Turn Nine and just bent the right-front suspension, so we had to come into the pits to change it. Overall, I think the car was really, really good and the Pelfrey guys are doing an awesome job.”

ABOUT TEAM PELFREY:
Dale Pelfrey’s race team, based in Palmetto, Fla., is built upon the same principles he used 35 years ago when establishing his business career – hire the best, acquire the best and expect the best in order to achieve the most. After fielding cars in the IndyCar Series from 1998 until 2000, Team Pelfrey was reformed in 2011, winning on its Pro Mazda debut and going on to earn the Team Championship as well as second and third in the drivers’ title-chase with Connor De Phillippi and Nick Andries. Team Pelfrey went one better in 2012, guiding Jack Hawksworth to the Drivers’ Championship and earning a second successive Team Championship.
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