Mazda creates Indy scholarships

Mazda will provide a scholarship to help the Indy Lights champion graduate to IndyCar from next year, as part of a new scheme to promote drivers through the IndyCar Series' 'Road to Indy' development series

Mazda creates Indy scholarships

The Japanese manufacturer was already offering a scholarship to help the USF2000 champion into Star Mazda, and will now extend its support to the two championships at the top of the American single-seater ladder.

In addition to the IndyCar scholarship for the Indy Lights champion, the Star Mazda champion will also get a scholarship to move into Indy Lights.

Drivers' difficulty in progressing through IndyCar's feeder championships had become a major concern in recent years, particularly with the number of American racers in IndyCar dwindling.

Of the recent Indy Lights champions, only 2008 winner Raphael Matos was able to move straight into a full-time IndyCar drive. His predecessor Alex Lloyd did not get a full-season deal until this year, while 2009 Lights champion JR Hildebrand only made two IndyCar starts this year.

IndyCar chief Randy Bernard said helping the junior categories' champions towards the top level was a priority for him.

"We want to strengthen our ladder system to further develop, reward and advance the best of the best," said Bernard.

"The Road to Indy was designed to cultivate young talent for the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. In Mazda, we've found a partner that not only has a history of nurturing such drivers, but also shares our desire to groom the future stars of IndyCar racing through its commitment of providing driver scholarships."

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