James Roe showed good pace at this weekend’s Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Cooper Tires though the race results were mixed for the rookie driver.
Roe got his first taste of the St. Petersburg street course during official practice where he was up to eighth fastest before a red flag paused the session. After about 20 laps of track time, the Irishman went into Qualifying 1 where he only got a few laps in before another red flag came out, resulting in a P10 starting position for Race 1. Throughout Race 1, Roe fought for position while continuing to learn the challenging course and ended up 13th overall.
Qualifying 2 saw Roe deliver the fifth fastest lap time at one point amidst a very close, competitive field of drivers. When the checkered flag waved, the 22-year-old was just 0.6517 seconds off the pole position which resulted in a 13th place starting position, demonstrating just how tight the competition was during the weekend.
Roe went into Race 2 determined to place his #3 Topcon/Trintech car in the top-ten, but unavoidable contact with the #11 car of Hunter Yeany on the opening lap left Roe a sitting target, shoving him into the wall on the unforgiving circuit and ending his race prematurely.
“Going into the weekend, I was ready for the challenge of my first street course in St. Petersburg,” said Roe. “We had some good efforts in practice and qualifying and were improving during the weekend. Unfortunately, I had an incident with Yeany in Race 2 that took me out on the opening lap. It’s very disappointing as I was just a passenger in the incident and didn’t get the chance to challenge for a strong finish. All we can do now is shift our focus forward and hope the bad luck is behind us. We have a great team and program going, so it’s time to reset and look forward to the next few rounds at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next month.”
“James came out of the box pretty well,” said Team Owner Peter Dempsey. “He had a lot to learn being his first time on a street course, so we were happy with how Q1 and Q2 went. We need to get more out of our second set of tires in qualifying to put us in a position to stay out of trouble in the races. James was unlucky to get caught up in an incident in Race 2 that really put an unfortunate end to his weekend. Now, we will turn our focus to the Indy GP weekend in May. The cars will be stripped and rebuilt, and hopefully we can keep improving every weekend.”
The Road to Indy season continues at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course May 13-15 for a triple header weekend with Rounds 5/6/7 taking place at the historic venue.