This weekend’s Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires season opener at Barber Motorsports Park left much to be desired for sophomore team Turn 3 Motorsport. Though the team showed speed and capability with driver James Roe during pre-season testing, a number of setbacks during the course of the weekend presented challenges for the Irish race car driver that were difficult to overcome.
Indy Pro 2000 Qualifying 1 got off to a rocky start for Roe when a mechanical issue held him up in the pits, prohibiting him from getting a good qualifying lap in and ending up with a 15th place starting position. Race 1 of the Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Barber Motorsports Park Presented by Cooper Tires saw Roe slingshot up to tenth in the opening laps, gaining five positions on a course that is notorious for being difficult to overtake on. On lap three, the 22-year-old gained two more positions, diving into the inside of Turn 2 and improving to P8. Roe continued to push for better results, but a fluke with his rain light on lap 16 forced him into the pits for repairs, sending him back to a 15th place finish.
Qualifying 2 was another setback for Roe with an untimely red flag stopping the session before he had a chance to put together a fast lap, resulting in a 14thplace start for Race 2. In Race 2, Roe once again showed his speed by improving to ninth by the end of lap one and being named the biggest mover of the race at the halfway point. Roe continued to hold off the #21 car of Kyffin Simpson while trying to close the gap to Manuel Sulaiman’s #22 car ahead of him. Roe fought off the line of cars behind him as long as he could and ultimately brought the #3 Topcon / Trintech car home in P11.
“Overall, it was a very challenging weekend,” said Roe. “From the minute we rolled out on Thursday up until Race 2, we were hindered by a number of unfortunate mechanical issues. We knew coming into the weekend that qualifying was going to be crucial here, so the issues encountered clearly hindered any chances of a good starting position. I was happy with the ground we made up and number of passes in Race 1, so to be hit with another mechanical issue was tough. In Race 2, we made up some ground again and had a solid finish.”
“I have full belief in the team and package, and I know the guys will double up on all efforts for the remainder of the season,” continued Roe. “We are a resilient group of people, and it’s a long season. We are all focused now on St. Pete next week.”
“It was certainly not the weekend we were aiming for,” said Team Owner Peter Dempsey. “We had two very good tests ahead of this weekend, and James adapted to the car well. Unfortunately, we were hindered by some issues on the team side that really didn’t allow James to show his true potential over the course of the weekend. Weekends like this will bring the team closer together and refocus on the areas we know we need to improve on. We will learn, move forward, and aim to come back strong at St. Pete this weekend.”
The Road to Indy series continues to St. Petersburg, Florida this weekend for Rounds 3 and 4 of the 2021 season. The downtown circuit will be the first street course experience for Roe who is an Indy Pro 2000 rookie.