Cockburn Gazette - - DRIVE WAY - Bill Buys

PERTH rac­ing ace An­thony Martin opened his sea­son in the US with a brace of flag-to-flag wins in the Grand Prix of St Peters­burg.

Martin (22), of Banksia Grove, won last year's USF2000 ti­tle, and with it full schol­ar­ship in the Pro Mazda Cham­pi­onship, the next step in Mazda's 'road to Indy' pro­gram.

"I'm so happy to take the sweep at St Pete and to come away with the cham­pi­onship lead," he said.

But it was a hard-fought win, with his top ri­val from last year, Brazil­ian Vic­tor Fran­zoni, in close com­pany through­out both heats.

Pro Mazda cars use up­rated Mazda Re­n­e­sis ro­tary en­gines, which gen­er­ate 195kW, about 70kW more than a USF2000 Mazda MZR pow­er­plant - and give the cars a top speed of 260km/h.

In the first race, a 25-lap­per on the streets of St Peters­burg, Martin took the check­ered flag just 0.5084 of a sec­ond ahead of Fran­zoni and the sec­ond, longer event, by 1.02 sec­onds.

Martin got pole po­si­tion for both races in his Cape Mo­tor­sports car, which was fin­ished in 'soul red' – the colour cho­sen by Mazda for its schol­ar­ship car.

"There was a lot of pres­sure, but I thrive on pres­sure and that's one rea­son we've done so well this week­end," a beam­ing Martin said.

The Pro Mazda Cham­pi­onship will re­turn to ac­tion at the In­di­anapo­lis Mo­tor Speed­way Grand Prix cir­cuit on May 12-13.

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