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Mazda Road to Indy

2016 Indy Lights Series Year in Review: Zachary Claman De Melo

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In his rookie year of Indy Lights competition, Zachary Claman De Melo saw himself run mid-pack most of the year en route to finishing ninth in points.


Points Finish: 9th

Car No.: 13

Driver Name: Zachary Claman De Melo

Team Name: Juncos Racing

Total Races: 18

Victories: 0

Podiums: 0

Top-Fives: 3

Top-10s: 9

Average Start: 10.8

Average Finish: 9.7

DNFs: 0


While De Melo had hoped to start his rookie season on a high, it started the opposite with three finishes outside of the top-10, including a DNF in the second race on the streets of St. Petersburg due to an engine failure. The Montreal, Quebec native looked as though he was going to turn his year around quickly and early, though, as he followed up those finishes with back-to-back top-seven performances.

Unfortunately, the positive swing didn’t last – and that became the theme of the year. De Melo would have a couple strong performances, followed by a couple not so hot performances. While people will remember the pair of top-fives at Road America, they’ll also remember both races in Toronto resulting in DNFs and his crash during the Indianapolis Grand Prix.

Highlight of 2016 – A couple top-five finishes throughout the season prove there is some potential.

Downfall of 2016 – The inconsistency, and multiple finishes outside of the top-10 don’t prove well for his prospects moving forward.

Road/Street Course Analysis – In 15 races, De Melo posted only three top-five finishes, with a best-finish of fourth. His inconsistency on the season really shined through in these events as some tracks seemed to suit his style really well, and others not so well.

Oval Analysis – While he was able to finish eighth at Iowa Speedway, the other two races resulted in finishes outside of the top-10.

Notes for 2017 – De Melo has yet to announce plans for the 2017 season, but there are still options open. After entering four cars last year, Juncos Racing has thus far only announced two drivers – Kyle Kaiser and Nicolas Dapero. There is a possibility De Melo may be back at Juncos Racing once again, or perhaps moving on to another team.

The problem is while his rookie year wasn’t all that bad, there were other rookies whom shined greater and finished in the top-five in points. When you have drivers like those on the table, along with the upcoming and talent in Pro Mazda, it’s hard to stick with a driver that you may be totally confident in based on his first season.

If he is able to find a ride, being able to improve on tracks where he struggled will be key in moving forward.



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Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.