Bowmanville, Ont., Canada – After winning both the driver and team championships in 2012, Team Pelfrey has endured a disappointing first half of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires season, highlighted by a pair of second-place finishes for Spencer Pigot.
The 19-year-old Pro Mazda rookie then suffered what he described as one of the worst weekends of his career just one week ago on the streets of Toronto but bounced back in fine style today by scoring his first victory in Round Nine at the fast and challenging Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Pigot, who qualified second this morning, fought his way past polesitter Shelby Blackstock at Turn Eight on Lap Two and managed to edge out a slight margin over the two battling Andretti Autosport entries of Blackstock and runaway series points leader Matthew Brabham.
On Lap Four, however, Pigot’s advantage was erased when Colombian Juan Piedrahita crashed his JDC MotorSports entry heavily into the tires at Turn Three which caused a lengthy full-course caution. Piedrahita, thankfully, was not seriously injured in the accident and has been taken to a Bowmanville hospital for further precautionary tests.
The field was obliged to run behind the Safety Car for 10 laps while the car was removed and the tire barrier repaired. When the race was restarted with around five minutes remaining, all of the top three contenders felt they had a legitimate shot at the victory.
Pigot continued to lead the way, but a slight mistake by Blackstock on Lap 16 enabled Brabham to slip past into second place and close onto Pigot’s tail. Uncharacteristically, however, Brabham, too over-stepped the limit at Turn Three next time around, running wide and allowing Blackstock to regain second position.
The final couple of laps saw all three jockeying for position, frequently running side-by-side, but it was Pigot who held on for the victory by just 0.118 seconds ahead of Blackstock at the checkered flag. Brabham was a scant 0.081 second behind in third.
Scott Anderson finished only a second or so farther in arrears in fourth for Juncos Racing, while Brazilian Nicolas Costa (Team Pelfrey) found a way past Diego Ferreira, in a second Juncos Racing entry, for fifth in the closing stages.
Contingency awards included the Quarter Master Hard Charger Award which went to Costa for a gain of four positions from ninth to fifth, the Staubli Award to Blackstock and the PFC Award to the winning team of Team Pelfrey.
Brabham currently holds a 72-point advantage in the standings at 272 over Ferreira. With his win today, Pigot has narrowed the gap to a mere eight points in arrears of Blackstock in third.
Race 2 at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park circuit will take place at 4:20 pm tomorrow with Pigot on pole and Blackstock alongside. Costa will line up third with Piedrahita, Ferreira and Brabham rounding out the top six.
Spencer Pigot, #81 Doug Mockett & Company/Gap Guard/Parathyroid.com/California Scents/OMP (Team Pelfrey) – First: “It was a big team effort this weekend. We were struggling a little bit in practice and made quite a lot of changes overnight. We had a really good session this morning. We didn’t quite beat Shelby to the pole, but started on the front row. It is great for me and it’s great for the team. We have been working hard all year and haven’t quite had it for some of the other teams, especially at Toronto which was probably the worst weekend I have ever had. To come back and get the win is great for the whole team. After the restart I was able to get a little bit of a jump but I couldn’t quite break the draft and I made a little mistake on the last lap and Shelby and I were side-by-side. In fact, I think he was a little bit ahead of me on the back straightaway and I was just able to hold the inside through Turn Eight. It was great racing. Shelby and I were joking around that it was such a turnaround from last weekend for both of us. To be out fighting for the win was great and hopefully we can do it again tomorrow.”
Shelby Blackstock, #28 Team Starstruck (Andretti Autosport) – Second: “I can’t complain. The Andretti cars have been so fast and the weekend has been so good and so positive. This is the first time I have been to the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park and this is a fun track to race. We were three wide on the first lap. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the smoothest race for me and Matt, just a lot of mistakes that let Spencer get away. Congrats to Spencer on his win and thanks to all the Andretti Autosport guys for their hard work this weekend. It was a fun race. We collected the points we could at Toronto but left there with our tail between our legs but happily we came here and got the pole today and a podium, and hopefully tomorrow we will get the win.”
Matthew Brabham, #83 MAZDASPEED/Team Andretti Autosport – Third: “It was all down to strategy and trying to place your car on the back straight so you got the tow right. It’s a shame to lose the winning streak but you can’t have every win so we will take it as it comes. For me, it was a great race. I am so happy for Shelby and Spencer. Shelby and I were crowding each other to get to Spencer and fight for the win. Shelby made a little bit of a mistake coming onto the main straight and I managed to get up on the inside but two corners later in Turn Three I ran a little bit wide and dropped a wheel off where [Juan] Piedrahita crashed and Shelby slipped past me. It was a little bit of a mistake but I am still glad to be up here on the podium. It was so much fun today and I would like to thank everyone that supports me – Mazda and everybody at Andretti.”
About Pro Mazda: The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires debuted in 2013 as a new series, replacing the Star Mazda Championship which ceased operation in 2012 after 22 years. The series is sanctioned by INDYCAR and owned and operated by Andersen Promotions. It is the second official step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system with the series’ champion awarded a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to Firestone Indy Lights competition the following year. For more information, visit www.promazdachampionship.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