Toronto, Ont., Canada – Neil Alberico vaulted from eighth place to third in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda standings following a finely judged victory in this morning’s sixth round, the Analytic Systems USF2000 Grand Prix of Toronto.
Alberico, 20, from Los Gatos, Calif., 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.
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, from Oslo, Norway, 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.
Englishman Michael Epps made an impressive return to the series, finishing sixth with Belardi Auto Racing after missing the most recent race at Lucas Oil Raceway.
Toronto driver Dalton Kellett upheld local honor with a run to seventh for Pabst Racing Services, while Brazilian Felipe Donato (ArmsUp Motorsports) and Stefan Rzadzinski (JDC MotorSports), from Edmonton, Alb., confirmed the current parity that exists in USF2000 by ensuring that eight different teams were represented among the top nine finishers.
Scott Rettich (Alliance Autosport), from Camden, Ohio, maintained his unbeaten sequence of victories in the USF2000 National Class Presented by SCCA Enterprises.
Contingency awards included the Tilton Hard Charger Award to Jesse Lazare of Pabst Racing Services for a gain of 11 positions from 26th to 15th, the Staubli Award to Latorre, PFC Awards to the winning team owners in each class – Cape Motorsports and Alliance Autosport and the National Class Masters Award Presented by Elite/Comprent to Rettich.
Race 2 of this weekend’s double-header Analytic Systems USF2000 Grand Prix of Toronto will start tomorrow morning at 11:35 am, immediately after the IZOD IndyCar Series’ warmup.
Neil Alberico, #2 Racelite Protection/Bondurant School/eFormulaCarNews.com/J&M Trophy (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) – First: “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. 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.”
Florian Latorre, #91 13th Avenue/MASM-Cogny/Accent du Sud Ouest (JAY Motorsports) – Second: “The team gave me a great car. They worked very hard between [the last race] at Indianapolis and here so when we arrived and put the car on the track she was good from the start. This is a great result for myself and for the team.”
Danilo Estrela, #11 Belardi Auto Racing – Third: “This result feels really good. We started 11th unfortunately and I lost two or three spots at the start but then I was gaining and gaining. The restart for me was okay and I continued to gain spots. I was fortunate enough to pass Henrik [Furuseth] for the podium spot and he was nice enough not to do anything crazy. It was good. I think we had the second fastest race lap and that means we will start P2 tomorrow. I am a short guy but I like big trophies so I will be going for the win.”
Scott Rettich, #71 PDI Communication Systems/Springboro Car Wash (Alliance Autosport) – First National Class: “The track was very good. There was definitely more grip than yesterday. I knew I had a very good car, a very good set up. It was just up to me to stay out of trouble and there was certainly a lot of trouble out there to be had. I put my head down and drove smart and pretty conservative. My teammate, Ryan Verra, drove very well. I left an opening and he did get around me once but I was able to get back around him on the same lap to get back into the lead.”
About Analytic Systems Ware (1993) Ltd.: Analytic Systems of Delta, British Columbia is a world class manufacturer of high performance Power Conversion products. Designing and manufacturing DC to DC voltage converters, MPPT Solar Charger Controllers, AC and DC source battery chargers, AC to DC power supplies and DC to AC inverters for Military, Rail/Transit, Commercial Marine, Industrial and Alternative Energy markets throughout North America and around the world. Visit www.analyticsystems.com.
About USF2000: The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda debuted in 2010 and is a continuation of the highly-regarded USF2000 series which ran from 1990 through 2006, launching the careers of many of today’s top drivers. Sanctioned by INDYCAR and managed by Andersen Promotions, the series is the first official step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system. The top driver in the Championship class will earn a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. The series also is part of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder program which assists young drivers in advancing from the Skip Barber Racing School to USF2000. Additional information can be found at www.usf2000.com.
About Mazda: Mazda is the number-one brand for road-racers across North America. Thousands of Mazda powered grassroots racers compete in various classes with the SCCA and NASA highlighted by Spec Miata, the world’s largest spec class with over 2,500 cars built. In 2006 Mazda established the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder to assist racers in moving up through the ranks. In 2010 this was expanded to include the Mazda Road to Indy. Key to Mazda’s success is strategic partnerships with the Skip Barber Racing School and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
MAZDASPEED Motorsports is managed by Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). MNAO is headquartered in Irvine, Calif. and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers. Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario; and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City. Consumer information can be found at www.mazdausa.com with press information at www.mazdausamedia.com. Racers and fans can follow the action on Facebook (Mazdaspeed Motorsports).
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company (NYSE: CTB) is a global company with affiliates, subsidiaries and joint ventures that specialize in the design, manufacture, marketing and sales of passenger car and light truck tires. The company also has subsidiaries that specialize in medium truck, motorcycle and racing tires. With headquarters in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper Tire has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design facilities within its family of companies located in 11 countries around the world. Additional information can be found at www.us.coopertire.com.
Contact: Tamy Valkosky, Public Relations
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