By Steve Wittich
Current Pro Mazda Presented By Cooper Tire championship leader Parker Thompson comes to his home with on a roll in the “Great White North.” The Red Deer, Alberta pilot, has won his last three starts on the 1.786-mile, 11-turn Exhibition Place street circuit. The 20-year-old’s two trips to the top step of the podium last year came while driving for Canadian team Exclusive Autosport.
“Sweeping the weekend last year in Toronto in front of my fellow countrymen was probably the most memorable racing weekend of my career,” beamed Thompson. “The best part is we have the chance to relive some of the same emotions again this year, (and) I will do absolutely everything in my power to defend our win streak on the streets of Toronto.”
Thompson will busy with many media appearances and will have 75 guests to entertain, including the return of Badlands Motorsports Resort
Rounding out Exclusive Autosport’s “Eh Team” will be local stand-out karter Antonio Serravalle, who hails from Markham, a suburb of Toronto.
The Pro Mazda Presented By Cooper Tire series returns to the iconic street circuit after taking last year off.
The first Pro Mazda race on the streets of Exhibition Place took place in 2007 and was won by Dane Cameron. This year’s Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Toronto Presented by Allied Building Products doubleheader will be the 10th and 11th races in Ontario’s capital city.
Pro Mazda Presented By Cooper Tire winners in Toronto
|2016 Race #2||Aaron Telitz||Team Pelfrey|
|2016 Race #1||Aaron Telitz||Team Pelfrey|
|2015 Race #2||Garett Grist||Juncos Racing|
|2015 Race #1||Florian Latorre||Cape Motorsports|
|2013 Race #2||Matthew Brabham||Andretti Autosport|
|2013 Race #1||Matthew Brabham||Andretti Autosport|
|2012 Race #2||Jack Hawksworth||Team Pelfrey|
|2012 Race #1||Jack Hawksworth||Team Pelfrey|
|2007||Dane Cameron||JDC Motorsports|
A pair of Juncos Racing teammates, Rinus VeeKay and Carlos Cunha are currently 46 and 49 points adrift of Thompson at in the hunt for the $790,300 Mazda Motorsports scholarship.
The 17-year-old VeeKay won the first two Pro Mazda street course races of the year in St. Petersburg, Fla. and finished on the podium in both of his USF2000 races on the 1.786-mile, 11-turn Exhibition Place street circuit last year.
“I feel confident going into the race weekend in Toronto,” explained the Dutchman. “I had two podiums there last year and also broke the USF2000 track record. The team is working harder than ever to get me back at the top step of the podium, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
VeeKay’s 18-year-old teammate Cunha will be making his first visit to Toronto, and after a pair of disappointing sixth-place finishes at Road America will be looking to get back on the podium to get his season back on track.
The third member of Juncos Racing’s Pro Mazda squad is Robert Megennis. The pair of Pro Mazda races will be the New Yorker’s third trip to Toronto where he has three top-fives in four race starts.
BN’s racing David Malukas was the big winner at Road America, winning his first two Mazda Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires races and carving 20 points out of the deficit to Thompson.
The 16-year-old will need to put last year’s trip to Canada out his mind and focus on his previous street course race. Malukas retired in both of his Toronto starts in USF2000 last year, but finished second in the season opener this year at St. Petersburg, Fla.
“A repeat of Road America would be awesome,” explained Malukas, “But it is never easy. I really like the Toronto layout and we were very fast here last year in USF2000, but had some bad luck in both races so I’ll be looking to overcome that this year.”
Kris Wright will be returning to BN Racing to partner with Malukas. Wright, a 23-year-old who calls Pittsburgh, Penn. home is racing in Ontario for the second straight weekend. Wright finished second in the IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda event at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
Harrison Scott finished on the podium twice at the last doubleheader at Road America, moving his season podium total to five and keeping him in the championship hunt. The Althorne, England native needs to start winning races and finishing ahead of the drivers in front of him in the championship.
Scott will once again partner at RP Motorsport with Raul Guzman. The 19-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico showed plenty of pace during his Pro Mazda debut at Road America. It will be interesting to see how Guzman adapts to a North American street circuit.
Team Pelfrey, with four victories, is the winningest Pro Mazda squad in Toronto and will be represented by Sting Ray Robb and Andres Gutierrez. Both drivers have shown pace to compete at the front of the field. Robb had the quickest lap of the race in the first street course race of the year in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Some more nuggets of information
- The pole sitter has won all nine Pro Mazda races in Toronto.
- Only seven different teams have scored podiums in the nine races with Team Pelfrey leading the way with eight.
- All nine races have ended under green flag conditions. The closest margin of victory (0.295 seconds) was in 2012 race #1. The first race the following year had the most significant margin of victory (12.455 seconds).
- Garrett Grist is the only Canadian winner in Pro Mazda in Toronto.
Pro Mazda Presented By Cooper Tire weekend schedule
- 8 AM – 8:25 AM
- 10:05 AM – 10:25 AM – Pro Mazda Qualifying #1
- 11:45 AM – 12:15 PM – Pro Mazda Autograph Session
- 3:30 PM – 3:50 PM – Pro Mazda Qualifying #2
- 10:50 AM – 11:30 AM – Pro Mazda Race #1
- 10:40 AM – 11:25 AM – Pro Mazda Race #2
Don’t miss any of the action:
- live timing – Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, USF2000, and IndyCar Race Control
- on twitter –Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, USF2000, Cooper Tire, Mazda Racing and TSO Ladder
- via the Road To Indy TV app – Android or Apple iOS
- on all social media channels via the #TeamCooperTire and #MRTI hashtags