By: Tanner Watkins
November 30, 2018 | 11:00 AM
Russian driver NIkita Lastochkin will get a third crack at racing in the Road to Indy’s middle division in 2019. Canadian-based Exclusive Autosport has hired the 28-year-old to run the full Pro Mazda season with hopes of a championship on the horizon.
“I am thrilled to welcome Nikita to the Exclusive Autosport Pro Mazda program,” enthused Michael Duncalfe, Team Principal of Exclusive Autosport. “Nikita’s experience in the Road to Indy and maturity are great assets to the EA program. Overall, Nikita is a great fit with the Exclusive Autosport team. We are looking forward to a very positive and successful year with him in Pro Mazda.”
Getting another crack at the Pro Mazda championship, Lastochkin is ready to hit the ground running after positive returns in early testing.
“I’m extremely excited to come into the season and join Exclusive Autosport,” Lastochkin said. “From the testing we’ve completed so far, the car feels very quick and suits my driving style well. Michael has been very welcoming and helped me feel at home right away and I think we are going to have a great year ahead of us.”
Joining the American racing scene in 2013, Lastochkin got his start in the Skip Barber Racing Series before transitioning to the Road to Indy. In 2015 he joined Team Pelfrey for a year in USF2000, and then spent another year in the series while employed by a Cape Motorsports/Wayne Taylor Racing dual entry.
In two years spent at the USF2000 level, Lastochkin finished 7th and 8th in the championship.
Following a similar pattern to his USF2000 opportunities, Lastochkin rejoined Team Pelfrey for 2017 in the Pro Mazda Championship before jumping back to Cape Motorsports for the 2018 Pro Mazda season. While Nikita finished fifth in 2017, the veteran driver placed 9th in last year’s championship without recording a podium finish.
Lastochkin’s best Pro Mazda runs of 2018 included a fourth-place finish at Toronto and a fourth-place result at Portland.
Exclusive Autosport is planning to run three cars next season in the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires. The team continues its ascent up the American open-wheel ladder, with goals of reaching Indy Lights in the future.
In 2018 the team showed well in their Pro Mazda debut by placing Parker Thompson second in the season’s championship.
Lastochkin, Exclusive Autosport and the rest of the Road to Indy ladder program will be on track next week as the series heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway for testing. The Road to Indy season opens on the same weekend as the IndyCar Series, March 8-10, 2019.
Header image courtesy of Exclusive Autosport and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.