You may be keeping tabs on Dario Franchitti this season, but what about INDYCAR’s other three champions? Each are off to amazing starts in the next series up the Mazda Road to Indy ladder program, including 2011 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda champion Petri Suvanto.

The 19-year-old Finnish star has made four Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear starts in his debut 2012 season thus far and hasn’t finished lower than seventh place. He rocketed out to a podium finish at his first race weekend in St. Petersburg in the second race of the series’ doubleheader.

“Last season was obviously my first season in U.S. racing, and it started off really well,” Suvanto said. “The whole year was like a dream thanks to my team Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing. They did an amazing job as well and this opportunity to race in Star Mazda this year was a big challenge.”

Though he is one series closer to reaching the IZOD IndyCar Series, with the step up comes an increase in car complexity and level of competition.

“A lot of new things to learn, like, probably the biggest thing is the extra 100 horsepower or even more,” he said. “The extra aerodynamics that we have in this car, and the fact that this is a top chassis—all those little things make a big difference driving and it takes a while to get used to it.”


Aside from getting used to his new series, Suvanto talked adjusting to American culture and getting to know his new teammates at Team Pelfrey. Listen to the FULL INTERVIEW HERE