Brabham Aims for All-Time Series Win Record This Weekend in Canada
PALMETTO, Fla. – After two races in support of the IZOD IndyCar Series last weekend on the streets of Toronto, Ont., Canada, competitors in the 16-round Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires will travel just an hour or so to the east this weekend for another pair of races – in support of the American Le Mans Series’ Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix – at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park situated a few miles north of Bowmanville, Ont.
To say that 19-year-old Matthew Brabham is on a roll might be something of an understatement. The grandson of three-time Formula 1 World Champion Sir Jack Brabham and son of Le Mans 24 Hours winner and two-time IMSA champion Geoff Brabham swept the races in Toronto, taking his active winning streak to seven, just one shy of the season-high record established by last year’s champion Jack Hawksworth.
Brabham, from Boca Raton, Fla., who earned a MAZDASPEED Scholarship to graduate into Pro Mazda following his victory in the 2012 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, has taken a commanding lead in the point standings – and the quest for another scholarship to graduate into Firestone Indy Lights, the next step on the Mazda Road to Indy, in 2014 – with the Andretti Autosport team. He now holds an 85-point advantage over his nearest challenger, has led almost 88 percent of the total number of laps this season (226 out of 258) and has every intention of continuing his streak on the dauntingly fast 2.459-mile (3.96-kilometer) road course this weekend.
Venezuelan Ferreira Leads the Chase
Diego Ferreira is the only driver other than Brabham to have tasted the spoils of victory this year. The 19-year-old Venezuelan built impressively on a solid rookie campaign in 2012, which included top-five finishes in each of the final five races, by winning the 2013 season opener from the pole at the Circuit of The Americas. He has been shut out of Victory Lane since then but has added a handful of podium finishes including a pair of seconds last weekend, despite qualifying only fifth and sixth for the two races in Toronto.
Ferreira’s hopes of ending Brabham’s run of success will doubtless be buoyed by the fact his Juncos Racing team has won each of the last two races held at the circuit formerly known as Mosport International Raceway. Brazilian Joao Victor Horto took top honors for Juncos in 2011, on the series’ most recent visit, while Conor Daly won the race in 2010 en route to the championship crown.
Teammate Scott Anderson, from Fort Collins, Colo., will be keen to make amends for a pair of incidents at Toronto where he qualified fourth for Race One and ran as high as second in Race Two.
Toronto native Kellett set for Pro Mazda Debut
Taking advantage of a series’ incentive program, Dalton Kellett, from nearby Stouffville, Ont., will make his Pro Mazda debut in a third Team Pelfrey entry. The 19-year-old has three consecutive top-10 finishes to his credit in the ultra-competitive USF2000 series, including a seventh and a ninth (out of 29 entries) last weekend in Toronto.
“This will be a good opportunity to evaluate the Pro Mazda car, which is the next progression along the Mazda Road to Indy,” said Kellett. “Canadian Tire Motorsport Park is one of my all-time favorite tracks. It’s where I got my start in car racing in the Ontario Formula Ford Championship, so naturally I can't wait to return and conquer it in a new car. I would like to thank Team Pelfrey for the opportunity to join their team for the weekend and Andersen Promotions for supporting USF2000 drivers wishing to compete in Pro Mazda events.”
Kellett will join team regular Spencer Pigot, from Orlando, Fla., who endured a difficult weekend in Toronto but already has three podium finishes to his name this year, and Brazilian Nicolas Costa, who claimed an impressive third on his series debut last Saturday and finished third in Sunday’s race before a post-race penalty relegated him to sixth.
Fellow Toronto Native Meyer Looking to Build on Maiden Top-Five Finish
Local driver Zack Meyer, from Toronto, Ont., will arrive at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park with high expectations after claiming his first-ever top-five finish last weekend in his hometown. Meyer, 20, was out of luck in Race One, obliged to start his JDC MotorSports entry several laps behind everyone else due to a mechanical problem which manifested itself on the grid. He made amends on Sunday, rising from eighth to fifth on Lap Two and then inheriting a career-best fourth when third-place finisher Nicolas Costa was assessed a penalty after the checkered flag.
JDC MotorSports teammate Juan Piedrahita, 20, from Bogota, Colombia, finished a career-high second last month at the Milwaukee Mile and ran as high as second in both Toronto races. Piedrahita endured misfortune on Saturday when he was forced out of the race with a tire that had been damaged by debris in the early stages and finally let go just a couple of laps from the end, but bounced back well on Sunday to finish third.
Piedrahita is the only driver in the field with previous Pro Mazda experience at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, having finished 14th as a young rookie in 2010.
Quarter Master Hard Charger Award Recipients’ Read and Kaiser On the Move
Lloyd Read of JDC MotorSports and Kyle Kaiser of World Speed Motorsports have momentum on their side after notching their career-best finishes to date at Toronto. Read, 22, of Newport, Wales, who is in his first full season of Pro Mazda competition after contesting two rounds last year, posted a fine drive from ninth to fourth in Race 1. Kaiser, of Santa Clara, Calif., and the youngest driver in the field at 17, advanced from a 10th-place grid spot to fifth then backed it up with another solid fifth-place drive on Sunday.
Shelby Blackstock is another driver seeking to bounce back from a tough weekend in Toronto. Blackstock has already displayed his potential this year in a second Andretti Autosport entry, netting a pair of poles at St. Petersburg and finishing on the podium in four of the first six races.