By Steve Wittich
After only a five-and-a-half hour break, Rinus VeeKay and Juncos Racing put together their second Pro Mazda pole run of the day.
The Dutch rookie will start beside David Malukas. His teammate Robert Megennis will start right behind his teammate on the inside of the front row, the New Yorker’s best qualifying effort of the year.
Harrison Scott, Sting Ray Robb, and the Soul Red No. 3 of Oliver Askew round out the first three rows.
The top nine drivers were all within one second of VeeKay’s pole lap.
The third Pro Mazda Presented By Cooper Tire session of a busy Fan Friday in Toronto for the series began at 3:30 PM.
At the half-way point of the 20-minute session, race #1 pole sitter VeeKay held the provisional pole with a lap of 1:08.525. Robb, Malukas, Scott, and Megennis rounded out the top five.
The session came under red flag conditions with eight minutes remaining when the No. 90 Exclusive Autosport Mazda/Tatuus of points leader Parker Thompson came to a stop on track during his first lap. The Red Deer, Alberta driver, began experiencing a non-team related mechanical issue in the first session that also brought his second qualifying session to a premature end.
Thompson will start in the last spot for Sunday’s Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Toronto Presented by Allied Building Products.
The Canadian was upbeat when we talked with him post qualifying, telling his team that they will have fun watching him drive through the field.
The 1.786-mile, 11-turn Exhibition Place street circuit went back to green flag conditions with six minutes left and after a few laps to get their Cooper Tires into the optimal operating range, the lap times started to fall.
Megennis was the first driver to grab the provisional pole, but that didn’t last long when fellow rookie Malukas was able to go seven-hundredths quicker. That didn’t last long as VeeKay once again was able to push to the next level on his final lap, lowing the provisional pole lower.
RP Motorsport rookie Harrison Scott was the biggest mover as the checkered flag fell, moving up to the outside second row starting spot.
We checked with Scott after the first session to inquire why he was only able to run eight laps during qualifying, and he explained that they were experiencing brake issues throughout the session. The 22-year-old will have to start Saturday’s race on the inside of the fifth row but did perk up when we mentioned that there was a chance of rain on Saturday.
He was much happier when we saw him after qualifying for race #2.
Nikia Lastochkin, who missed the first qualifying session after a part broke forcing him into the concrete barriers early in the morning practice session made an impressive recovery. The Russian driver was within six-tenths of a second of his teammate Askew and will start inside the top ten.
Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Toronto Presented by Allied Building Products
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||QUICK LAP||DIFFERENCE|
|5||82||Sting Ray Robb||1:08.651||0.3753|
Saturday’s Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Toronto Presented by Allied Building Products will roll off at 10:50 AM on Saturday morning