Three of the top four drivers on the combined Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix of Toronto time-sheet all have experience at Exhibition Place, but the top half of the 14 car field is VERY close. The top-seven times are all within three-tenths of a second of the 1:07.778 lap that Carlin sophomore Felix Serralles set at the very end of the session, and the top 11 drivers are all within one second.
Serralles is racing in Toronto for the second year, and had a podium in 2015 race #1 nullified after his Belardi Auto Racing car failed technical inspection.
Only five-hundredths of a second behind Serralles was the second Felix in the field. Felix Rosenqvist, who has shown his prowess on street circuits with multiple wins in Formula 3 on the Pau and Macau street circuits, told TSO that the 11-turn, 1.786-mile Exhibition Place temporary street course is by far the bumpiest circuit he’s ever raced on. Those bumps didn’t seem to impact the Stefan Johansson mentored Swedish based driver, who is making his first visit to Toronto.
Championship contender Ed Jones had the third quickest time and was only one-tenth of a second behind his Carlin teammate.
First session recap:
Unlike the Pro Mazda drivers before them, the 14 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire drivers learned from their younger peers and took it easy for the first half of the session.
Half-way through the session Felix Serralles and Zachary Claman de Melo both had spins, but both were able to continue.
TSO was able to chat with Carlin sophomore Ed Jones after the session. The 21 year-old, who finished fifth and third in the 2015 Indy Lights races at this event, was very effusive in his praise of the new Turn 8 through Turn 11 section of the track, explaining that is really lets you wring the car out in attempt to drive through the bumps.
Another Indy Lights driver we chatted with wasn’t quite so complimentary in his assessment of the track this year, explaining that the bumps are so bad this year it made it: a) hard to see the braking markers and b) his feet kept falling of the pedals.
After missing the last two events at Road America and Iowa Speedway due to commitments with Mercedes, Felix Rosenqvist led the opening session during his first visit to Toronto. The reigning FIA Formula 3 champion was followed in the top five by: teammate Zach Veach, championship leader Ed Jones, reigning Pro Mazda champion Santiago Urrutia, and sophomore Kyle Kaiser.
Dean Stoneman, who is currently second in the championship and is making his first trip to the street of Toronto, was decidedly mid-pack in eighth.
The second Indy Lights practice session saw the 14 drivers able to get into a good groove with 27 minutes of straight green flag time, with Kyle Kaiser and Andre Negrao turning 19 laps each on the 1.786-mile circuit.
Juan Piedrahita, Claman de Melo and Rosenqvist all had contact with the barriers. None of the contact was serious, but the session did end three minutes early with the No. 14 Belardi Auto Racing machine of Rosenqvist nosed into the barriers.
Claman de Melo led the three Canadians on the opening day of practice for the Indy Lights double header in Toronto. The 18 year-old ended the day in seventh on the time-sheet only 0.3737 seconds behind leader Serralles. However, the Montreal, Quebec native did have slight contact that damaged his rear wing.
Fellow “Canuck” Garett Grist, who is taking part in his first street circuit event in the Mazda powered Dallara IL-15, told TSO that he has been taking it fairly easy this weekend. The Grimsby, Ontario native who has one win at this track in Pro Mazda, ended up with the 11th quickest time of the day.
Toronto, Ontario born Dalton Kellett is the third Canadian Indy Lights driver, and the Queens University graduate was 14th on the time sheet, but was still only 1.7 seconds behind Serrallles
Cooper Tires Indy Lights Grand Prix of Toronto combined results:
|RANK||DRIVER||BEST LAP||TOTAL LAPS|
|7||Zachary Claman De Melo||1:08.152||35|
There is an Indy Lights owners meeting this evening, so we should have some more news tomorrow.
Qualifying for the Indy Lights drivers begins at 8:25am on Saturday morning and the first of two races takes place 12:25pm.