Toronto, Ont., Canada – Danilo Estrela emerged from a dramatic seventh round of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda to claim a well-deserved first series victory in this morning’s second leg of the Analytic Systems USF2000 Grand Prix of Toronto.
Estrela, 20, who hails originally from Goiania, Brazil, and lives now in Orlando, Fla., ran second for much of the caution-interrupted race which was held in hot, humid conditions. He slipped to third following one of the restarts but charged back to take the lead with a scintillating outside-line pass of erstwhile pacesetter Neil Alberico in Turn Three on Lap 17.
Estrela (Belardi Auto Racing) took advantage of the jostling of positions in his wake to pull out an appreciable advantage, and even though series leader Scott Hargrove (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) was able to break clear of the pack and close rapidly in the final couple of laps, Estrela had enough in hand to secure the victory.
Florian Latorre, 16, from Auriolles, France, slipped from third to sixth in the opening laps before charging back to snare his second podium finish in as many days for JAY Motorsports.
Peter Portante, in a second Belardi Auto Racing Van Diemen-Mazda, somehow battled his way to second place, behind Estrela, following the final restart. The youngster from Plainville, Conn., winner of last year’s Skip Barber Racing Scholarship, was bundled down to fourth at the finish, just ahead of a snarling pack which included Alberico (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing), who had been shuffled down the order at Turn Five at the final restart, Garett Grist (Andretti Autosport), Felipe Donato (ArmsUp Motorsports), Michael Epps (Belardi Auto Racing), Dalton Kellett (Pabst Racing Services), Brandon Newey (Afterburner Autosport/BHA with Curb/Agajanian) and Daniel Burkett (Belardi Auto Racing), all of whom were blanketed by a meager 2.543 seconds at the checkered flag.
Scott Rettich, from Camden, Ohio, once again claimed top honors in the USF2000 National Class Presented by SCCA Enterprises at the wheel of his Alliance Autosport team’s Van Diemen-Mazda.
Contingency awards included the Tilton Hard Charger Award to Austin Cindric of Andretti Autosport for an impressive gain of 11 positions from 24th to 13th, the Staubli Award to Estrela, the PFC Award to winning teams Belardi Auto Racing and Alliance Autosport and the National Class Masters Award Presented by Elite/Comprent to Rettich.
The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda will reconvene at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, on the weekend of August 2-4 for a triple-header event once again in support of the IZOD IndyCar Series.
Danilo Estrela, #11 Belardi Auto Racing – First: “I tried to pass [Scott] Hargrove on the outside the lap before and it didn’t work out so I figured if I could break a little bit later and turn later, I could run on the tarmac and not on the concrete and I would have the run on the outside of the corner. Neil [Alberico] did what I expected him to do and went to the inside so I braked late into Turn One and overtook him. I couldn’t be more happy. The track is amazing; the event is amazing and the car was really good. We have been trying very hard and I have to thank Brian [Belardi] for helping me. The team won at Mid-Ohio, our next race, last year and I am very excited to go there and try for another win.”
Scott Hargrove, #38 Analytic Systems/Race Energy/Metal Action/Skip Barber Racing/Bell Racing (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) –Second: “Yesterday was a bit of a tough day, I knew today I couldn’t do that again and had to stay clean. At the start and the restarts, I don’t know how we all made it through without making contact. We were so close to each other, my front wing to other people’s wheels and side-by-side through the streets. It was a lot of fun. It was a great job by the Toronto Grand Prix to make the track so raceable. And being able to drive in the Analytic Systems USF2000 race was an honor for me being sponsored by them and I can’t thank them enough. Hopefully, we put on a great race for them and everyone.”
Florian Latorre, #91 13th Avenue/MASM-Cogny/Accent du Sud Ouest (JAY Motorsports) – Third: “I fell back at the start and it was pretty hard to come back because of the limited number of laps with the yellow flags. I think we had a car for a win today. It was a good weekend. From the beginning, we had a good car. I think we will have a great car for the next race at Mid-Ohio, and I have to thank the team for the results this weekend.”
Scott Rettich, #71 PDI Communication Systems/Springboro Car Wash (Alliance Autosport) – First National Class: “It feels really good to pick up another win. We made some more improvements to the car and it was really good early in the race. Going into the second half, there was quite a bit of carnage and I think I cut down my tire a little bit. Going into that final restart I had to work really hard to try to turn some not very impressive laps so it wasn’t an easy win today.”
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