The lone Canadian entered for the Allied Building Products USF2000 Grand Prix of Toronto double header in Toronto is Parker Thompson. The 17 year-old has spent the last couple of days flat-out doing media appearances across T.O., and the Red Deer, Alberta native was also flat-out on the 11-turn, 1.786-mile Exhibition Place temporary street course, leading the combined USF2000 time-sheet.
First session recap:
The Honda Indy Toronto weekend began promptly at 8am when the buzz of the Mazda MZR 2.0L engines powering the USF2000 series began echoing around the 11-turn, 1.786-mile Exhibition Place temporary street course. The buzz didn’t last long though as Jordan Lloyd (Pabst Racing) and Robert Megennis (Team Pelfrey) had separate incidents on their out-laps.
Rookie Megennis made a mistake at Turn 8 and slid into the barriers. Further down the track, Lloyd made significant contact with the concrete barriers in Turn 11. The No. 21 from Pabst Racing hit the barriers hard enough to move the barriers, and suffered significant damage to three of the four corners. (More on the Lloyd situation below).
The track went back to green after a 10+ minute delay to repair the barriers, and the USF2000 field were able to complete five or six laps before a simultaneous red/checkered flag ended the session when Anthony Martin made contact in Turn 8 and Garth Rickards spun in the off-camber Turn 10.
TSO had a chance to chat with Rickards after the session. The 23 year-old told us that overall, the track is quite a bit bumpier, and the final Turn 8 through Turn 11 section is certainly tricky. Rickards went on to explain that he thinks that section will require a “slow is fast” approach.
Martin told TSO that Turn 8 is a little narrower this year, and that caught him out when he was pushing. TSO note: the barrier on the inside of the corner was moved at least two feet into the racing line this year, making the corner slower as well as narrower.
Due to a lack of funding, there was some question whether Luke Gabin would make the trip to Toronto, but the 21 year-old who currently sits fifth in the championship standings was able to find the funding to continue. The Australian that is currently living in Indianapolis, Indiana told TSO that the track wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be, and that keeping your car in one piece would certainly be the name of game this weekend.
The first session was led by Cape Motorsports with /WTR’s Martin, and he was joined in the top five by his teammates Parker Thompson in second, Jordan Cane in fourth, and Nikita Lastochkin in fifth. The last member of the top five, was ArmsUp Motorsports veteran Victor Franzoni.
The second USF2000 session of Friday began at 1:45pm under overcast skies and the half-hour practice quickly ground to a stop when a red flag came out for the No. 92 of Luke Gabin, who ground to a halt at the exit of Turn 3. He received a tow-in from the Holmatro Safety Team, and was not able to get back out. TSO was able to confirm with JAY Motorsports team owner Jay Green that the problem was not terminal.
For the second session in a row, the exit of Turn 11 bit another driver when Clint McMahan had a hard impact, knocking the right front off the No. 20 RJB Motorsports machine. With only five minutes left in session, the red flag also caused an end to the session.
Unfortunately for championship contender Jordan Lloyd, the Pabst Racing crew determined that the No. 21 that Lloyd crashed in the first practice session was unrepairable. That set team principal Augie Pabst, III in search of a solution.
Fortunately for Lloyd, John Cummiskey Racing, who Lloyd contested the first four rounds of the 2015 USF2000 championship with, entered the picture. The Brownsburg, Indiana based team had an extra car become available this weekend when Ayla Agren’s funding unfortunately fell through at the last minute (more on that later). Proving that the Mazda Road To Indy paddock is one big family, Cummiskey has loaned a car to Pabst for the remainder of the weekend.
— TSO Ladder (@TSOLadder) July 15, 2016
Despite turning no laps in the first practice session Lloyd was able to recover in the borrowed car and turn the fifth quickest lap of the session.
The Cape Motorsports with /WTR crew was able to get the Burgess BLA sponsored No. 8 of Anthony Martin repaired, and the morning Turn 8 shunt sure didn’t seem to phase the Kalgoorlie, Australia born driver. The 21 year-old was able to put the shunt behind him and turn the third quickest lap of the afternoon session.
Joining Lloyd and Martin in the top five were: Canadian Thompson, who led a USF2000 practice for the third time this season, Franzoni, who in second was 0.3 seconds behind Thompson, and Yufeng Luo (Pabst Racing) who excelled with a win and second place finish at the last street circuit event in St. Petersburg.
TSO had a chance to catch up with Franzoni after the session, and the veteran two time USF2000 winner told us that he has a great car, and that he made a couple of mistakes, and that he expects to be even quicker tomorrow when he able to put a complete lap together.
Leading the way in the National Class was Eric Filgueiras.
USF2000 combined practice results:
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The Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda series is back on track bright and early on Saturday morning at 7:50am for qualifying. Their first race of the weekend takes place at 11:30am.