After a part-time effort in 2018, DEForce Racing is moving to Indy Pro 2000 presented by Cooper Tires full time this year. Familiar faces will pilot the two DEForce Racing entries, Texans Kory Enders and Moises de la Vara, who have each been with the team since 2016.
The Texas-based team has competed in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship the previous two seasons with Enders, who finished ninth in the standings in 2017 and eighth last season. De la Vara won the Mexican FIA F4 Championship during the 2017-18 season, after running in 10 of 14 races during the 2017 USF2000 season.
Both drivers also gained Indy Pro 2000 experience last season when the series was called Pro Mazda. Enders drove in two races. De la Vara drove in four, including a fourth-place finish at Gateway Motorsports Park.
“I think we are ready for the challenge for various reasons,” DEForce Racing co-owner David Martinez said.
With last year being the first year for the Tatuus PM-18 chassis used in Indy Pro 2000, Martinez said running the races they did helped the team make sure it did not take steps backward with development.
“We (have) also been doing a lot of developments with the car here in Houston,” Martinez added, “so we feel like (we) gained a lot of experience learning the car.”
Enders is excited to get the 2019 Indy Pro 2000 season started.
“As a team, we have grown exponentially in the past two years,” the 21-year-old from Sugar Land, Texas, said. “We’ve worked so hard to grow our team and to master all six styles of cars that DEForce currently has at our shop, but more importantly the Indy Pro 2000 car.”
Enders said he has made progress internally to achieve a better mindset, which has helped improve his driving abilities. During a single weekend last June, he won all three races during the final round of the Mexican F4 Championship at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City. It served as a huge confidence booster.
“That was the biggest factor in changing my mindset for the better,” said Enders. “It showed me that I do have the skills and abilities to win races and dominate a weekend.”
While the Mexican F4 cars may not have many similarities with the Indy Pro 2000 cars, de la Vara believes the experience gained by racing and winning the championship has made him a smarter driver. That knowledge was put to the test last August at Gateway Motorsports Park, on an oval, where de la Vara has limited experience.
“It was a big step from the F4 car (to) arriving at Gateway,” de la Vara admitted, “… but I think the team and I did a fantastic job that weekend and even qualified in third and finished the race in fourth.”
The drivers are approaching their 2019 goals differently. “I wish to be in championship contention, but a goal I have is to finish in the top three (in) the championship,” said de la Vara, 21, who hails from San Antonio and is nine days older than Enders.
Enders said his only goal is to do his absolute best every race weekend.
“If that results in winning the Indy Pro 2000 championship, then that is what (is) meant to be,” he said, knowing there will be factors he cannot control. “I believe that absolutely everything happens for a reason, and I am ready to bring this team to victory lane.”
David Martinez, who owns the team with his brother Ernesto, said both drivers have a unique detail in common; they both started racing at an older age.
“Kory and Moi have very limited karting experience because they didn’t start until they were 15 or 16,” said Martinez. “Over a small period of time, they really have improved a lot.”
Despite it being DEForce Racing’s maiden full season in Indy Pro 2000, Martinez has lofty goals for the duo.
“I personally feel that we have the potential to get both our drivers to finish in the top five or (win) the championship,” he said. “That is going to be our main goal.”
The Indy Pro 2000 season begins with a doubleheader race weekend at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg from March 8-10. The 16-race season consists of seven doubleheader weekends on road and street circuits, plus oval races at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis the Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois.