The Tatuus PM-18, destined for the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires, had its first official on-track activity Saturday at the Chris Griffis Memorial Test on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The PM-18 is the new control chassis for the Pro Mazda category, which completes the upgrade process across the entire Road to Indy ladder.
“It feels smoother than the old car and the brakes are so much better. It’s just a better braking car, better accelerating and a better handling car,” said Sting Ray Robb, who tested with Juncos Racing. “Now, you have to brake much later by nearly 100 feet and so it’s a massive amount of difference. Also, you have to do bigger changes to get the same kind of reaction that you would out of the old car. The old car used to be quite edgy due to the short wheelbase, so now with the longer wheelbase, it feels more stable, more calm and easier to drive but the new fly-by-wire throttle is really nice to have. I do like the mechanical throttle, but it’s time for a change so I think it’s going to be good.”
Dan Andersen, owner of Andersen Promotions which owns and operates the Mazda Road to Indy under INDYCAR sanction, was delighted to see the PM-18 in action.
“It’s a great satisfaction and relief,” Andersen explained. “A lot of time and effort went in on the part of my staff, my project manager, Scot Elkins, the folks from Tatuus and Elite Engines. I think what we’ve put together is a fantastic package and it does complete the overall ladder that we’ve envisioned for the last several years. This is a serious race car, this is a serious package, it does exactly what I want it to do. It takes the drivers who learn mechanical grip and competition in USF2000 and it teaches them aerodynamics and much higher speeds. It’s the perfect training ground to move them into Indy Lights.”
All three MRTI levels participated in the two-day Griffis test. During Saturday’s first day of testing, Nico Jamin was quickest in Indy Lights for Belardi Auto Racing with a best lap of 1 minute, 15.7173 second in his No. 5 Dallara IL-15 Mazda. Pro Mazda’s fastest Saturday runner was 2017 USF2000 champion Oliver Askew at 1:19.8920 in the No. 8 Cape Motorsports PM-18 Mazda. The top USF2000 time went to Andres Gutierrez of Pabst Racing with a lap of 1:25.5618.