TORONTO, Ontario, Canada – For the third straight Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda race, the main combatants for the victory were sophomore drivers Nico Jamin and Jake Eidson. But this time the result was more satisfying for Jamin, who had been bested by his closest championship contender, Pabst Racing’s Eidson, after he started on pole in the prior two contests.
It certainly wasn’t easy for the Rouen, France native, who was able to extend his championship points lead over Eidson from nine points to 16 points. The now five-time race winner tagged the outside wall entering Turn 1 on the final green flag lap in the #2 Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing entry, but was able to hold on to the lead until the yellow flag flew for the final time.
Just before the field took the 1.755-mile, 11-Turn Exhibition Place street circuit for the Allied Building Products Grand Prix of Toronto a heavy drizzle began to fall. That precipitation left the teams scrambling to switch from slicks to the Cooper rain tires.
The first two laps of the 30-minute timed race were chaotic with numerous off-track excursions. Max Hanratty (ArmsUp Motorsports), Luke Gabin (Team Pelfrey), Nikita Lastochkin (Team Pelfrey), Keyvan Andres Soori, Yufeng Luo (Pabst Racing) and James Dayson (ArmsUp Motorsports) all had incidents, but only the No. 5 ArmsUp Motorsports machine of the 15-year-old Soori was unable to continue.
Gabin, this year’s winner of the Skip Barber Championship Shootout MAZDASPEED scholarship, was able to recover from an early Turn 3 spin and pilot his “Soul Red” entry to his first Mazda Road To Indy podium earning the Tilton Hard Charger award in the process for advancing three positions from his starting slot of sixth.
One of the more spirited battles took place between John Cummiskey Racing rookie Anthony Martin and Cape Motorsports sophomore Aaron Telitz for fourth. The two drivers traded that position three times during a seven-lap span with Martin solidifying the spot in the end.
Parker Thompson, one of two Canadians in the field, had an up-and-down-day. The Red Deer, Alberta native started the race at the back of the field and raced his No. 80 JDC Motorsports machine all the way to fifth by Lap 5. Unfortunately, the 17-year-old found the Turn 3 run-off on Lap 8 and was finally forced to retire after tagging the wall on Lap 12. He was credited with the RePlay XD Move the of Race Award for his series of passes on the opening lap.
The race ended a few minutes early after 15 laps and under yellow due to weather conditions.
Additional contingency awards included the PFC Award to the winning team of Cape Motorsports, and the Staubli Award to Lastochkin.
The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda will be back on track July 31-August 2 when the closely contested championship heads to the 2.258 mile, 13-turn road course at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the lone triple-header of the season.
Nico Jamin (No. 2 Synova Automotive Eco-Plastics – Cape Motorsports with /WTR): “The conditions were very difficult. I knew I had a good pace but I couldn’t make any mistakes. When I hit the brakes in Turn One, I locked up the left front tire which sent me straight into the wall. It was very scary because I thought my race was done, but nothing was bent on the car. I got the car back on track, slowed it down and was able to take the corner. After that, I had to keep my head up and not have any more mistakes. It was good that the pace car came out, because conditions were getting crazy in the end. I have a 16-point lead but we have five races in two race weekends left so anything can happen. We have to keep on working hard and try to keep this pace through the end of the championship.”