Exclusive Autosport has announced that Mexican driver Manuel Cabrera will fill their second seat for the 2018 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. The 17-year-old will make his Mazda Road to Indy debut this year, having spent the 2017 season competing in the Formula PanAm and Formula Master Asia series.
Cabrera won the Formula PanAm championship and was rewarded with a ticket to the Mazda Road to Indy $200,000 Scholarship Shootout and was he also acknowledged as the Rookie of the Year in the Formula Master Asia program.
“Manuel is a welcomed addition to the Exclusive Autosport USF2000 team,” enthused team principal Michael Duncalfe. “Manuel brings with him a wealth of experience and results. He won the Formula PanAm championship in 2017, which earned him a ticket to the Mazda Road to Indy $200K Scholarship Shootout. The transition from the Formula PanAm to the Tatuus USF-17 has been quick and seamless for Manuel. He has shown great speed and has worked really well with our engineers in off-season testing. We look forward to his series debut at Homestead next week.”
Cabrera will team with Canadian Jayson Clunie, who will be back to contest the entire season. The 48-year-old business owner enjoyed steady progress last season, having made his series debut on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May.
Cabrera began his racing career in the assorted Mexican karting series in 2010 at the age of 10, running upfront and winning numerous races and championships along the way. Manuel made the move to car racing by attending the Skip Barber Racing School in 2016, and then participating in their Championship Series. This past year, Cabrera competed in the Formula PanAm series and earned the championship title, winning a ticket to attend the Mazda Road to Indy $200,000 Scholarship Shootout in the process. Manuel scored four wins in the six series races and was on the podium in the other two. He also raced in the Formula Masters Asia series, scoring six top-five finishes, and was awarded the Rookie of the Year honors.
“I feel really excited to be racing in the 2018 USF2000 championship because it’s an extremely competitive series and it has really good drivers,” commented Cabrera. “I’m expecting to have a nice year with Exclusive Autosport team. I’ve already completed four days of testing with them and I feel very comfortable. I feel that we are going to make good happen things this year. I’m going to give my best to win races and hopefully the championship this year. It’s so important for me, so I’m going to push hard in every practice, qualifying session and race!”
The team is primed and ready for the official MRTI Spring Training test at Homestead-Miami Speedway on February 24-25, and is expecting to make two additional driver announcements before things get underway in Florida. The season opener for the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires in St. Petersburg is just three weeks away (March 9-11), and the entire Exclusive Autosport staff is motivated to begin their second season of MRTI competition on a positive note.