Pizzi, Corry, Ribeiro Fastest at USF Pro Championships’ Sebring Test
 December 11, 2023| 
  • Series News
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SEBRING, Fla. – More than 30 young drivers today began preparations for the 2024 USF Pro Championships Presented by Continental Tire season by taking part in the first of two days of official series testing at the Sebring International Raceway Short Course in Sebring, Fla. The test offers a first opportunity to sample the new Continental tires following a recent change for the widely acclaimed open-wheel racing development ladder.

Competitors in all three series – US Pro 2000, USF2000 and USF Juniors – each took to the 1.7-mile, 11-turn track for three 40-minute sessions in unusually cool conditions, with a similar schedule on tap also for tomorrow, when the temperature is forecast to rise from the upper 60s to the mid 70s.

Francesco Pizzi, from Rome, Italy, ended the day narrowly on top in USF Pro 2000. Pizzi, who finished fifth after his rookie season in the U.S., turned the fastest time of the day in the afternoon’s second session at 1:00.538 for TJ Speed Motorsports.

“We started off well,” related Pizzi. “We understood the switch to the Continental tire straightaway which was good. We are still trying to get the car right. I wasn’t extremely happy with the day because, in that last session, I thought we could have went a bit better. I felt we didn’t maximize the tires as I would have liked but it is definitely a positive start. It’s so close here. It was just enough for me to get fastest today but today doesn’t really matter. We are going to get to race time and everyone is going to be close. The little things are going to make a difference. For now, we will just keep our head down and keep working. It gives a boost of confidence, but it doesn’t give points.”

Christian Brooks, from Santa Clarita, Calif., was fastest in the final session of the day for Pabst Racing with a time just 0.003 of a second shy of Pizzi’s earlier best, while teammate Jace Denmark, from Scottsdale, Ariz., also was close behind at 1:00.547.

2023 USF2000 champion Simon Sikes emerged as best of the rookie contingent, fourth fastest overall aboard a third Pabst Racing Tatuus, just ahead of Jacob Loomis, from Lewisville, Texas, who made an impressive return to the category with VRD Racing.

In USF2000 Sam Corry, from Cornelius, N.C., headed a one-two punch for the defending series champion Pabst Racing team. Corry, 16, was fastest in two of the three sessions, with best a time of 1:03.300, after former NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver Matheus Leist led the way early this morning while shaking down a DEForce Racing Tatuus USF-22 for reigning USF Juniors champion Felipe Giaffone.

“Today went well. I was happy with how the team went through everything. The 2024 season started as soon as 2023 ended,” said Corry. “Just how professional these guys are and how they go about everything is really good and I like being here. They have really fast race cars and they have won championships, and I am going for the championship [in 2024].”

Pabst Racing teammate Max Garcia, from Coconut Grove, Fla., ended the day second fastest with a time of 1:03.378.

Canadian Nico Christodoulou was just over a tenth of a second adrift for VRD Racing at 1:03.418, while Michael Costello, from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., was fastest of the rookies in fourth for Jay Howard Driver Development at 1:03.538. Elliot Cox (Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development), from Indianapolis, Ind., and 2023 Lucas Oil Formula Car Series champion Hudson Schwartz (Pabst Racing), from Washington, D.C., also were close behind in fifth and sixth.

Less than two tenths of a second blanketed the top four contenders in USF Juniors, although two-time and defending series champion team DEForce Racing continued its impressive run of success as rookie Bruno Ribeiro, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, once again topped the charts with a best time of 1:06.455 in the final session.

“Today feels good. I like this track a lot,” he said. “I think the short version of Sebring is really good to drive. The Continental tires feel good for the first time running on them. They are super quick and we just need to make some changes to adapt to it. For tomorrow, we expect to do some race runs and get more laps on them so we can study the setup, make some changes and go for it.”

G3 Argyros (Jay Howard Driver Development), from Newport Beach, Calif., was a mere 0.017 of a second adrift in second, with Leandro Juncos (DEForce Racing), from Vero Beach, Fla., and series veteran Jimmie Lockhart (VRD Racing), from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., also close behind.

Another full day of testing will begin bright and early at 8:00 a.m. EDT tomorrow and continue until 5:00 p.m. Live timing will be available on the USF Pro Championships App and on all three series websites, usfpro2000.com, usf2000.com and usfjuniors.com.
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