It’s another victory day at Monaco Increase Management as our driver Lirim Zendeli celebrates his maiden win in the USF Pro 2000 series (also known as Indy Pro), a championship he had joined this year under MIM’s supervision and is preliminary to the major Indycar league. This result marks the first win for a driver of Albanian heritage in an international series (Lirim had already won the German ADAC F4 series in 2018) and came at the end of a racing weekend in which Zendeli’s potential had been too often thwarted by circumstances, on the challenging and iconic Road America course near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Zendeli won by a hefty margin of 3.588 seconds over Brazil’s Kiko Porto with Irish driver Jonathan Browne completing the podium. This is a major achievement for both Lirim and TJ Motorsports racing team run by Australian-born veteran engineer Tim Neff and brings Zendeli’s total points tally to 116 despite missing one round of the calendar.
After being sidelined early in Race-1 by a contact, Zendeli put his speed to good use in the Sunday event where he had secured a solid third best in the qualifying session. Actually, the 23-years old from Bochum was set for a pole position lap by his effort was frustrated by a late red flag. Fate rewarded him though in the form of a formation-lap contact between the two drivers in the front row (Lirim’s team-mate Christian Weir and Michael D’Orlando), both having to head for the pit-lane before the rolling start was given. “At first, I wasn’t sure what to do”, Zendeli confessed “I did not know if I had to wait for the green flag to be waved, but then the team radioed me that I was in the lead and could dictate the pace”. And he did so, trying to pull away from the rest of the pack before another full-course caution caused the race to be interrupted. Lirim’s team mate Francesco Pizzi took the chance at the restart and briefly took the lead, but Zendeli fought back and soon regained first place. “it was difficult”, said the German-Albanian driver “because a seven-tenth of a second margin was not enough for escaping from the guys behind me and I have to try and cause them to make some mistake, otherwise I was defending at every lap”.
Taking first victory in a series is a boost for every young driver and Lirim Zendeli is now more confident for the future: “I see this win as a kind of ice-breaker”, he said “Sometimes when you still have to take your first victory you try everything and end up being a bit too aggressive. But now I’ve got it and we’ll see what future brings!”. Meanwhile, in the Principality of Monaco, MIM founder and CEO Salvatore Gandolfo was equally happy with Lirim’s win: “All of our four drivers have won in their respective categories after becoming contracted to Monaco Increase Management. This proves that our approach is successful!”.