Monterey, Calif. – Juncos Racing concluded the 2016 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires with noteworthy performances by all three drivers in Rounds 14, 15 and 16 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Nicolas Dapero captured his first win and two podiums, while teammate Will Owen earned two podiums in the Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Monterey Presented by Allied Building Products.
The final weekend of the 2016 Pro Mazda Championship kicked off on a high note for Juncos Racing on the 2.238 mile, 11-Turn road course located in Monterey, California. American Will Owen took the fastest time overall, followed by teammate Jake Parsons earning the second quickest time of day. Nicolas Dapero kept up the momentum finishing third in the first practice session.
The following day Argentinean Dapero qualified third for Round 14 while teammates Owen took the sixth position and Parsons started seventh. Dapero went on to pick up his first podium of the weekend, taking third in Round 14 while Parsons drove the #00 Smart Minds Institute car to a Top-5 finish. Owen finished 11th.
The action heated up Sunday morning in Round 15 when both title contenders made contact, falling to the back of the field. Dapero, who started third, took advantage of the opportunity taking the lead on Lap 4. Owen, driving the #23 AMR car moved into the second position. Parsons was running third when contact with the #81 car on Lap 12 forced the young Australian to end his day early finishing 12th. Dapero, driving the #31 Federal Seguros car would go on to claim his first Pro Mazda win since joining the series this year. Owen took the second step on the podium to give Juncos Racing a 1-2 finish.
The team carried the strong momentum into the final round later that day. Owen, who started fifth, made his way to the front of the field early in Round 16, and went on earn his second podium of the weekend taking second. Rookie Dapero finished on the podium for the third consecutive time this weekend, taking third, along with earning the fastest lap of the race. Parsons, driving the #00 Smart Minds Institute car took fifth after battling mechanical issues throughout the second half of the race.
Team Principle Ricardo Juncos said, “We had a great weekend here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, our most successful weekend during the 2016 championship. I was thrilled to see Nico (Dapero) capture his first win in the Pro Mazda series. He has come a long way since we first began working with him in our Driver Development Program last year, and has proven he is a top driver in this series. Will (Owen) had a great weekend as well. He almost finished every lap this season, but was just three laps short due to issues in Round 14. I am so happy he was able to walk away with two second place finishes, ending the season on a positive note. Jake (Parsons) had a lot of bad luck fall into his lap this weekend, with contact forcing him out of one round while he was in the hunt for the podium and a mechanical issue derailing a possible podium finish. He (Jake) has shown great speed this year and has really grown within our team. I want to thank all of these drivers and their families for their support this year and their dedication to our team. I also need to give a huge thank you to our crew and their families. These guys put a lot of hard hours and spend a lot of time away from home, and I want them to know how much we appreciate their dedication.”
Nicolas Dapero (Buenos Aires, Argentina):”I am really happy to end the championship this way. It was great for me to be able to battle with these guys who have a lot of experience and ending the weekend with three podiums. It was great to take one of the final wins as well. I want to thank Mazda, Cooper Tires, and Juncos Racing and my family for all of their support. I’m looking forward to continuing in the Mazda Road to Indy series next year.”
Will Owen (Castle Rock, Colorado, USA): “I had a great time this weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. I didn’t get the win that I wanted, but I did everything I could to achieve it. We came up short because of circumstances, not because of speed. I learned so much about racing in general because of the challenges that we had to deal with. The pace of the car was the best that it has ever been. I am super happy for Nico (Dapero) for getting Juncos their first win of the season. Those last two second place finishes were a great way to finish up my Pro Mazda career, though I will really miss working with Juncos Racing in this series!”
Jake Parsons (Melbourne, Australia): “We started off strong in practice this week and unfortunate in qualifying it did not go as planned on new tires. That put us starting seventh for the races. Race 1 we got off to a good start and managed to come home fifth. Race 2 I kept consistent and made it all the way up to fight for second. It was looking really good for us, but was crashed out through the cork screw when someone hit my rear tire, so that ended that race early. During the final race we had a quick car and had one of the fastest laps, but something broke and just had to manage it to bring it home in one piece. It’s frustrating because I feel like the weekend had a lot of potential, but things did just not go our way."
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.