Saturday 18 November 2017

Motorsport: Cape crusader McKenna to chase American dream

Declan Quigley

Reigning Young Racing Driver of the Year Patrick McKenna has signed to race in the US F2000 series with former champions Cape Motorsports.

McKenna has, like an increasing number of Irish racers, decided to forego the usual treadmill of F1-focused UK and European single-seater racing for the greater opportunities in the US.

Following a path worn by drivers such as his Dunlop Young Driver of the Year predecessor Peter Dempsey in the Star Mazda series in recent seasons, former Irish Formula Ford champion McKenna has decided to begin his quest for glory in the Mazda-supported US F2000 championship.

The revamped US F2000 series sports a new prize fund and has been embraced by the Indy Racing League as the first step on the Road to Indy.

For McKenna, who finished on the podium in British Formula Ford last season and who had initially contemplated a move to UK Formula Renault Sport, the decision to move to the US is a logical one.

"In Europe every step on the ladder to F1 requires much higher financial input and there is less of a culture of supporting drivers," McKenna said.

"In US F2000 the prize fund includes a paid drive for the winner of the championship in the 2011 Star Mazda Championship worth $350,000. There's nothing in Europe to match that."

The multi-championship winning Cape Motorsports team -- which is based in St Petersburg, Florida -- won the vast majority of US F2000 races when it last competed at that level back in 2006.

Now, with a new Mazda rotary engine specified for the cars and a new tyre supplier, in Cooper, there are new engineering challenges that McKenna is confident the squad can rise to.

Meanwhile, at home the final round of the Irish Rallycross Championship takes place at Mondello Park on Sunday. Tommy Graham has already been crowned champion following the penultimate round two weeks ago, the popular Kildare man taking his maiden title after 25 years of trying.

Irish Independent

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