Porto Scores Dominant Win in USF Pro 2000 Run at COTA
 August 27, 2023| 
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Kiko Porto, of Recife, Brazil, romped to his first win of the 2023 USF Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires season in the opening round of the Discount Tire Circuit of The Americas Grand Prix doubleheader this afternoon. This is the sixth podium for the DEForce Racing driver who will celebrate his 20th birthday in two days’ time.

USF2000 rising stars Mac Clark (DEForce Racing) and Nikita Johnson (VRD Racing) rounded out the top three with impressive debuts in USF Pro 2000 competition.

Clark, from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, turned heads by claiming the Cooper Tires Pole Award earlier in the day with teammate Kiko Porto lining up second. Johnson (VRD Racing), from Gulfport, Fla., also shone, qualifying third followed by championship leader Myles Rowe of Pabst Racing with Force Indy.

Clark made a fine start but Porto was able to take the point exiting Turn 1. A few moments later and the yellow flags flew for the first and only time following an incident involving Pabst Racing teammates Jordan Missig and Jace Denmark and Exclusive Autosport’s Salvador de Alba.

De Alba was able to continue albeit falling from sixth to 13th, but the day was done for Missig and Denmark.

The race resumed on Lap 4 with Johnson finding a way past Rowe to slot into third as the front of the field settled in. Meanwhile, de Alba, who entered the weekend third in the standings, was on the move eventually salvaging some points with an eighth-place result.

Fourth-place ranked Michael d’Orlando’s misfortunes resurfaced following a strong run of late as the Turn 3 Motorsport driver retired with a mechanical issue after 8 of 15 laps.

By the time the checkered flags flew, the DEForce duo of Porto and Clark held a gap of almost three seconds to Johnson.

Rowe crossed the line in fourth to extend his championship lead to 69 points with only four races remaining this season.

Jonathan Browne (Turn 3 Motorsport) earned the Tilton Hard Charger Award with a gain of six positions while David and Ernesto Martinez of DEForce Racing took home the PFC Award as winning team owners.

The final round of the Discount Tire Circuit of The Americas Grand Prix will take place at 8:00 am CDT tomorrow.

Provisional championship points after 14 of 18 rounds:
1. Myles Rowe, 318
2. Kiko Porto, 249
3. Salvador de Alba, 228
4. Michael d’Orlando, 210
5. Lirim Zendeli, 206
6. Joel Granfors, 206
7. Francesco Pizzi, 206
8. Jace Denmark, 186
9. Jonathan Browne, 180
10. Jack William Miller, 172

Kiko Porto (#12 Banco Daycoval/Petromega-DEForce Racing Tatuus IP-22): “What a weekend. The blue car was on fire. We showed well from the first session with Mac making his debut in the series. I am so happy. Mac deserved the pole but we were close. With the draft here and the temperature, I just tried to find an opportunity. Mac really helped me to keep me on the pace. It was not easy. It was so hot. Tomorrow we have one more and I am pretty sure we have a good chance to do a one-two again.

Mac Clark (#7 Valkyrie AI/ARM/Clubine Motorsports/TNG Exotics-DEForce Racing Tatuus IP-22): “It was a great Race 1 here at COTA and my debut in USF Pro 2000. A mega job by DEForce Racing with Kiko and me one-two and I couldn’t be more happy, especially with him making a late charge in the championship. We are looking to do it again tomorrow. I think we will be in good starting positions. This race track is a lot of fun and we’ll go again and see if we can get one better.”

Nikita Johnson (#17 Allen Exploration, LLC/Walker’s Cay-VRD Racing Tatuus IP-22):
“It was a great result by the team and me. Friday was my first time in the car. The car was just amazing this whole weekend and I really want to thank everyone from VRD. We started off in third and went back to fourth. On the restart, I passed Myles around the outside in Turn 1. I made a little bit of a mistake but caught Mac halfway through the race, locked up and fell back again. I brought it home safely in third and it’s just an amazing start to the weekend and I can’t wait for tomorrow’s race.”
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