St. Petersburg, Fla. (February 28, 2022) – Turn 3 Motorsport drivers Spike Kohlbecker and Christian Weir both earned top-ten finishes in this weekend’s Cooper Tires USF2000 season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg.
Kohlbecker’s qualifying session on Friday morning resulted in a 10th place starting position for Race 1. Up against a highly competitive field, Kohlbecker set out on a mission to earn a top-five result in the opening round. By the end of lap one, Kohlbecker had already improved two positions up to P8, and by the end of the 20-lap event, he had put his #33 Turn 3 Motorsport w/ Ignite Autosport car across the finish line in sixth.
In Race 2, Kohlbecker once again focused on achieving a strong result after starting in 10th position. The race was peppered with yellow flags which Kohlbecker avoided to climb up to eighth by the midway point, however, his luck ran out on the last lap when he hit the wall in T9, dropping him down to a 12th place finish.
“What an amazing venue St. Petersburg is!” said Kohlbecker. “I had so much fun competing in one of the best fields of drivers in the world. As a driver we always want more. We showed good pace this weekend, but as a team we need to find a hair more. I’m looking forward to going to Barber Motorsports Park in a month to get some testing in ahead of Rounds 3/4 in April.”
“Overall, it’s not how we expected to start the season,” said Team Owner Peter Dempsey. “I felt we would have a stronger weekend coming off of pre-season testing. Not getting the most out of the second set of tires in qualifying left us on the back foot, and it’s very hard to charge through the field on a street course. However, Spike did a good job staying out of trouble in Race 1 and moved up to P6.”
“I had a similar expectation for him to move forward again in Race 2, but unfortunately, he got shuffled back in the pack on the first lap which didn’t leave him in a great spot, and he was unable to move forward from there,” continued Dempsey. “Then brushing the wall on the last lap ended his race. All in all, I know we have the capability to perform better than this, and as a team we will work hard to come back a lot stronger at Barber.”
Christian Weir qualified his #32 car in 12th for Race 1 and had an incident-free race, earning a solid 10th place finish in his first ever race on the St. Petersburg street circuit. Weir brought what he had learned from Race 1 into Race 2, and by lap 6, he had passed five cars to move up to seventh in the field. Unfortunately, his efforts were revoked when he made contact in T9 partway through and became part of a five car incident that ended his race early, resulting in a P14 finish.
“It was a good start to the year and really only my fourth day in the car since breaking my back last year,” said Christian Weir. “This is no excuse by any means, but the USF2000 grid is really competitive, and to run in the top-ten was mission number one for me. Now we will shoot for top-five results, podiums, and race wins as we move forward through the year.”
“This weekend was always going to be challenging for Christian being his first ever street course event,” said Team Owner Peter Dempsey. “The goal with him was to maximize track time and aim to have our best performance in Race 2. Christian showed that he adapted very well to street courses and had a fantastic start in Race 2, moving through the field from 12th to seventh. His pace was very good, and he had a strong opportunity to potentially finish in the top four or five but got caught up in a crash that ended his race early. All things considered, his overall performance this weekend gives us confidence heading to Barber for the next event.”
The USF2000 series will meet up again in March for an official test at Barber Motorsports Park ahead of Rounds 3/4 in April at the 2.38-mile road course in Alabama.