TORONTO— Earning his third Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires victory, Rinus VeeKay of Juncos Racing had the cleanest view up front Saturday during the first of two weekend races on the streets of Exhibition Place for the middle rung of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder.
The action began on the opening lap when Robert Megennis (Juncos Racing) was eliminated in a Turn 1 incident. Two corners later, at the end of the high-speed back straight, Antonio Serravalle (Exclusive Autosport) and Harrison Scott (RP Motorsport Racing) had contact that resulted in Scott’s Mazda/Tatuus PM-18 vaulting over the No. 82 Team Pelfrey machine of Sting Ray Robb into the Turn 3 runoff area and sliding upside down into the tire barrier.
“When I got the good run, I was on the outside, he was on the inside,” Serravalle said. “I was ahead of him, but then when we hit the brakes, it didn’t seem like he hit the brakes. He just went over my back tire and (I) flew over the two Team Pelfrey cars.”
Assisted from the car by the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team after the spectacular and frightening crash that saw his car fly some 10 feet off the ground, Scott was evaluated by the INDYCAR medical staff and cleared to drive in Sunday’s second race of the weekend. Scott said Serravalle squeezed him into the wall coming down the back straight, triggering the crash.
“I went over the back of his car and then remember seeing a flash of yellow (Robb’s Team Pelfrey car) that I ran into the back of,” said Scott. “At that point, I was facing the ground and I remember coming down on my head first and coming to a rest at the tire wall.
“That was my first time rolling a car, but a huge thanks to the INDYCAR Safety Team because as soon as I came to a rest, I could already see the feet of the safety crews and they worked so quick to try to get me out of the cockpit,” the 22-year-old Brit said. “They knew straight away I was fine. I didn’t have any pains or anything, which was really lucky and a big thanks to Tatuus, who make the car, and their safety restrictions.”
Scott, Serravalle, Robb and Andres Gutierrez (Team Pelfrey) were all eliminated in the first-lap incidents, a trend that continued and saw only six of the 14 cars on the starting grid still running at the end of the 25-lap event on the tight 1.786-mile temporary street course.
David Malukas (BN Racing) attempted a pass on Pro Mazda points leader Parker Thompson (Exclusive Autosport) for second place on Lap 8 that resulted in contact and ended both drivers’ race. Kris Wright (BN Racing) later crashed in Turn 8.
VeeKay, meanwhile, steered clear of the chaos by staying out front. He won by 3.5546 seconds over teammate Carlos Cunha, with Raul Guzman (RP Motorsport Racing) taking third place for his first Pro Mazda podium finish.
“I didn’t get in any trouble or anything, but there was just caution after caution after caution,” said VeeKay, who closed his points deficit to 25 to Thompson and will start from the pole position in Sunday’s race. “I got some good restarts, so I’m really happy with that. Couldn’t be any better, I guess, and I was just focusing on driving the quickest race lap and get the (bonus) point because that extra point can be very valuable at the end of the season.”
Kirkwood stretches win streak to five in USF2000
Kyle Kirkwood (Cape Motorsports) jumped from third on the starting grid to first place on the opening lap and went on to lead all 20 laps of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda race at Toronto on Saturday. It was the Floridian’s fifth straight race win and sixth overall this season, expanding his championship lead to 114 points.
Kirkwood passed pole sitter Dakota Dickerson (ArmsUp Motorsports) and Kaylen Frederick (Pabst Racing) at the first corner on Lap 1, then Kirkwood defended against Dickerson’s attempt to retake the lead in Turn 3. Kirkwood led the entire way and won by 0.3613 of a second over Dickerson.
“I got the lead right in the first corner, which was very unexpected,” Kirkwood, 19, said. “I got a great start right off the bat, (Dickerson) opened up just a little bit to set up for the corner and he gave me just enough room to go under him, and he wasn’t able to do much after that.”
Dickerson’s runner-up finish was his first podium in USF2000, but the 21-year-old Californian wanted to be one step higher.
“I think Kyle made an amazing move down the inside of me,” Dickerson said. “I kind of defended a little bit, but he still got up the inside of me and managed to keep it off the wall on the exit. Tried to pass him back around the outside of Turn 3, but couldn’t quite make it stick. From there, it was just a matter of trying to put pressure on Kyle.”
Kirkwood will start fifth in Sunday’s second race, with Frederick on the pole.