Malaysian driver Weiron Tan kicked off his assault on the 2016 Pro Mazda Championship title, with a podium and fifth-place finish at the season-opener, held on the Streets of St. Petersburg circuit on the 12-13 March 2016. With two points-scoring finishes, Team Pelfrey driver Tan sits third in the drivers’ standings with 39 points.

This weekend’s racing marked Tan’s second season in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires: he finished fourth overall in the series last year after claiming four impressive victories. Now racing for Team Pelfrey, Tan immediately demonstrated his speed at St. Petersburg, setting a fastest lap of 1:11.9296 around the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit to put him fifth on the grid for the first race of the weekend. His second fastest time was just shy of this, a 1:11.9780 lap securing him a second fifth-place start in race two.

From the green flag in race one, 21-year-old Tan made a good start, maintaining position within the 12-strong grid of Mazda-powered single seaters. Behind, Garett Grist looked to challenge, but couldn’t keep up with the pace as Tan began to pull away. Ahead was the #2 of Nico Jamin.  Tan closed in on his rival and began looking for opportunities to pass early in the race, but Jamin went wide at the final corner of the street circuit, forcing Tan to take evasive action. This created a gap and, despite driving consistently and continuing to push – Tan setting his fastest race lap on lap nine – he was unable to catch Jamin. He brought his #81 Team Pelfrey race car across the line in fifth place.

Determined to improve on his result in the second of the weekend’s races, Tan lined up fifth on the grid alongside Jake Parsons. As the race got underway, Tan charged into the first corner getting around Jake Eidson and Jamin ahead to move up to third place. With his team-mates Aaron Telitz and Patricio O’Ward running in first and second respectively, Tan made it a Team Pelfrey 1-2-3. The trio dominated the remainder of the 33-lap race, crossing the line to give Team Pelfrey a clean sweep of the podium.

“It’s been a positive weekend, we had some ‘speedbumps’ during the test and practice sessions where we encountered some mechanical issues”, said Tan. “But we did a fantastic job and we kept the car towards the front of the field. I’d like to thank Resorts World Genting for their massive support.”

Collecting 39 points during the weekend, Tan sits third in the drivers’ standings after rounds one and two of the 2016 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, which heads to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, for rounds three and four on 22-24 April 2016.

Ben Potter

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