Rounds 4 and 5 of the Indy Lights Championship Presented by Cooper Tires proved to be one of the most action packed weekends of the 2016 season. Juncos Racing’s Zach Claman De Melo took home his best finish of the year, taking fifth in Round 4 of the Indy Legacy 100 at Barber Motorsports Park.
Juncos Racing showed great pace in the first practice session on the 2.3 mile, 17-Turn road course with Kyle Kaiser (Santa Clara, California) finishing second and Zach Claman De Melo (Montreal, Canada) fifth. The next day Claman De Melo qualified second for Round 4, however was unfortunately disqualified in the technical inspection and moved to the back of the 16 car field. Kaiser, who was on his way to a pole position had to settle for the eighth starting position after being held up in traffic.
The team looked to move past the disappointing qualifying results later that day in Round 4. Claman De Melo had an impressive run in the #13 Adidas/Seven for All Man Kind car on lap one passing multiple cars and eventually going on to pick up his best finish since joining the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, taking fifth. Kaiser’s day ended on lap 26 in the #18 InterVision/NetApp/ JuniperNetworks car after a mechanical issue forced him out of the race.
In Round 5, Kaiser took the seventh starting position while Claman De Melo would start 15th due to the disqualification the day before. Claman De Melo once again charged his way through the field earning the second fastest lap to finish an impressive seventh. Kaiser bounced back from a tough day in Round 4 to make his way to finish just outside the Top-5, taking sixth.
Claman De Melo’s determination behind the wheel was greatly displayed this past weekend. Despite being moved to the back of the field, from a front row starting position for both races, the young Canadian earned his best finish of the season at Barber Motorsports Park.
“Obviously the weekend didn’t go exactly how we planned,” said Claman De Melo. “In practice we knew we were really quick and had a good shot of winning this weekend. After qualifying we looked good for our starting position to challenge for the race wins, then after some unfortunate luck the disqualification made us start in the back for both races. Other than that I’m really happy with the weekend as we bounced back really strong and had two great races from the back.”
Kaiser, who won his first race in the Indy Lights series previously at Phoenix International Raceway, came into the weekend carrying strong momentum. However this did not translate with the results obtained at Barber Motorsports Park due to bad luck in qualifying and mechanical issues in Round 4.
“Overall it was a very rough weekend for the team,” said Kaiser. “The results were obviously disappointing, but we showed pace throughout the weekend and knew we had the cars to run up front. A little misfortune and bad luck really dampened a great start to the season, but we knew it was going to be a hard fought battle. The team worked extremely hard and I’m grateful we were able to run cleanly on Sunday after an engine issue on Saturday. I’m looking forward to getting back on track at IMS and focusing on getting back on the podium.”
Juncos Racing Team Principle Ricardo Juncos is confident that even though the results do not reflect the great pace both drivers showed, the team will be back on the podium during the month of May.
“We had a great start to our weekend with both drivers showing great pace in practice,” said Juncos. “However, qualifying did not go as planned for both Kyle (Kaiser) and Zach (Claman De Melo). Zach had an amazing run in qualifying taking the second position for Round 4 and his first pole of the year for Round 5, but due to a disqualification in the technical inspection was moved to the back of the field for both races. Kyle (Kaiser) was on his way to another pole this season, but was held up in traffic on two separate occasions, causing him to have to settle for a position he did not deserve. I am disappointed both drivers were not able to start up front where they belonged, but was beyond impressed to see how much speed both carried in both races moving up the field. Kyle was making his way to the front of the field in Round 4 running in fifth after starting ninth, but had an unfortunate DNF for a mechanical issue. Zach had a great race in Round 4, making his way through the field to finish fifth after starting last. Both drivers did a great job in Round 5, making their way up the field to finish just outside the Top-5. We have a lot of work to do in order to prepare for a busy month of May, and I know that our commitment to stay focused will get us back to the podium. I’m very confident after looking at the very high level of skills of both of my drivers behind the wheel in tough situations; we will be fighting harder than ever for the championship.”
The 2016 Indy Lights Championship Presented by Cooper Tires season continues with Rounds 6 and 7 of the Indianapolis Grand Prix on the 2.43 mile road course located at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. For more information please visit juncosracing.com and indylights.com.
About Juncos Racing: Ricardo Juncos, a second generation driver, grew up with a deep passion for racing. Juncos made his first steps in the racing community driving karts throughout Argentina. After funding became difficult, Juncos worked for teams in order to support his own racing career. During this time Juncos took courses in mechanical and electrical engineering to fully understand racing on and off the track. Ricardo Juncos established Juncos Racing in 1997 as a formula team operating in Argentina. Six years later, Juncos Racing moved to Miami, Florida where they became a respected karting team recording multiple local, regional, and national titles. After a successful run in karts, Juncos Racing moved north to Indianapolis, Indiana the “racing capitol of the world,” in 2008 to join INDYCAR’s Mazda Road to Indy series. After only two years in the Star Mazda Championship, the team finished second in the 2010 championship while Conor Daly won the driver championship. Juncos Racing continued their run in the Pro Mazda Championship (the former Star Mazda) taking second in the 2012 and 2013 championships. Most recently 2014 proved to be one of the most successful years for Juncos Racing, winning the driver championship with Spencer Pigot and team championship in both the Cooper Tires Winterfest and Pro Mazda Championship. Juncos Racing expanded operations in 2015 to include two Indy Lights entries along with four Pro Mazda cars. Recently the team captured the driver Indy Lights Championship with Spencer Pigot, and took home their second consecutive team Pro Mazda Championship.