Alberico wire-to-wire in Toronto
Neil Alberico vaulted from eighth place to third in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda standings following a finely judged victory in Friday’s Analytic Systems USF2000 Grand Prix of Toronto held at Exhibition Place.
Alberico controlled the race from the pole and refused to be flustered by no fewer than three full-course cautions which ensured a frantic one-lap dash to the finish line. Alberico (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) held on for his third win of a topsy-turvy season which has also included three non-finishes in the six races held to date.
“For sure momentum played a big factor after winning the last race at Indy and then going into a break. You just have to keep on your toes and focus on what you have to do to make things happen,” Alberico said. “The championship is not over until it’s over. We had an unfortunate start to the season, but that’s racing. The Cape Motorsports guys did a great job this weekend. There is not a lot of track time here and you have to maximize every lap of every session. I couldn’t be happier about today’s race and starting tomorrow on pole. I am going to try to score maximum points and keep moving forward.”
Sixteen-year-old Frenchman Florian Latorre (JAY Motorsports) produced a sensational performance by moving past championship leader Scott Hargrove at the start and keeping the pressure on Alberico for the entire 25-lap race. Latorre, too, had his work cut out in holding off the attentions of another 16-year-old, Henrik Furuseth, until the final restart when Furuseth was overtaken by an opportunistic Danilo Estrela (Belardi Auto Racing). Estrela, from Goiania, Brazil, had qualified a disappointing 11th but gradually worked his way forward before securing his third podium finish of the season with a bold maneuver at Turn Eight on the final lap.
Estrela now holds second place in the point standings behind Hargrove, who leads by 148-106, with Alberico now up to third place on 99.
Hargrove’s hopes of extending his lead took a blow when he made contact with Latorre at the first restart, on Lap 8, causing damage to his car’s front suspension. Fortunately, another full-course caution followed almost immediately, whereupon his Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing team called him into the pits and changed a damaged steering arm in near record time. Hargrove resumed in 25th position among the 29-car field and worked his way through to 14th by the finish.
Furuseth was relatively content with fourth, the best finish thus far for himself and PRL Motorsports, while yet another 16-year-old, RC Enerson, from New Port Richey, Fla., took fifth for ZSports Midwest with Team E Racing.
Scott Rettich (Alliance Autosport), from Camden, Ohio, maintained his unbeaten sequence of victories in the USF2000 National Class Presented by SCCA Enterprises.