Mazda Road to Indy
Cunha Entering Pro Mazda Campaign Ready for Title Fight
After a solid rookie campaign, Carlos Cunha is set to embark on his sophomore season in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.
“I have been working really hard to be ready for the season and I’m feeling ready to start,” he told POPULAR OPEN WHEEL.”
Now partnered with Juncos Racing for 2018, his focus is simple – the year-end title, as he believes he has everything in-place to be in contention, from being prepared himself to the team.
Juncos has proven their ability, as noted with winning the 2017 crown with Victor Franzoni. Meanwhile, for Cunha, last year was his first season of competition in the United States, ultimately having success as he placed third in the standings with seven podiums.
“I was very surprised with so much organization and competitiveness,” he commented. “All the affection of the fans for us was very cool. In the first race at St.Pete, I saw the chance to win, having passed Franzoni, but unfortunately I had a problem with the gearbox. I made my first pole position here in the USA in Mid-Ohio, and my first event on an oval was unforgettable. In the last round, we had a race in the rain where I came in second and I was very close to winning, I believe it was a complete year and a lot of learning.”
Cunha feels not just one thing, but everything he picked up over the course of the rookie campaign will help him now heading into year two, from experience on all the tracks, to understanding the rules an getting to know the race directors.
Ultimately, the championship is every driver’s desire, with the scholarship that comes with it to move up to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, and eventually the Verizon IndyCar Series. If Cunha could put together the pieces this year, he says it would be “a dream come true,” an something he plans to fight hard for.
For the Brazilian, he got interested in racing watching his father race stock cars in Brazil.
“He never wanted me to be a driver; he always told me it’s a very difficult life,” Cunha admitted. “One day, he let me go-karting and since then I’ve never stopped; I was four-years-old. He has always supported me a lot after he saw that I wanted this for my life, that I’m in love with what I do.”
Looking back on his career to date, Cunha says the most memorable moment came while racing in Formula 3 Brazil two years ago.
“I started in second and I fought for the first position; I overtook the first in the middle of the race and this was my first victory in Formula 3 Brazil and my first victory in racing cars beyond go-kart,” he said. “I would very much like to restore that memory this year and hopefully it will be winning the championship.”
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