Mazda Road To Indy – Honda Indy Toronto preview

After spending the “Month of May” in Indianapolis, the Mazda Road To Indy heads north of the border to Toronto, Ontario for a trio of doubleheaders.  The Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda, Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire and Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire series will all contest two races between the concrete canyons of the 1.755 mile, 11-Turn Exhibition Place street circuit, located just west of downtown on the shores of shimmering Lake Ontario.

All three series are just past their halfway point, and all three feature first-rate championship battles.

Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire

The Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire series has a long history in Toronto, contesting their first of 21 races on the 1.755 mile, 11-Turn Exhibition Place street circuit in 1986.

Fabrizio Barbazza was the winner of the that first race and is joined many notable names who have stood on the top step of the podium North of the Border.  That list includes: NBC Sports Network announcers Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy, Verizon IndyCar Series team owner Bryan Herta (two wins), and popular Canadian winner, Greg Moore.

Current IndyCar drivers who have won at “The Ex” in Indy Lights equipment include: Helio Castroneves (1997), Sebastian Saavedra (2009), and Jack Hawksworth (2013).

Englishman Jack Harvey scored two wins in three races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and will hope that his experience in Toronto (a podium in 2014) will help him inflate his slim 13 point championship lead over Carlin’s Ed Jones.

Jones, a 20 year-old should be happy to be back on a street circuit.  The Dubai, UAE native is currently three for three on street on city street circuits in 2015.  The Formula 3 veteran won two races on the streets at St. Petersburg and one race on the historic Long Beach street circuit.

For the second year in a row, defending Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire champion Spencer Pigot had a forgettable month of may.   The 21 year-old Juncos Racing pilot does have some experience at Toronto, contesting two Pro Mazda races in 2013.

Not too far behind Pigot in fourth place is an impressive SPM with Curb-Agajanian rookie, RC Enerson.  The 18 year-old is on a roll after a rough start to the season in St. Pete.  The New Port Richey, Florida native, who made the jump from USF2000 to Indy Lights has six straight results of seventh or better, including two podiums.  Enerson has made four starts in Toronto with a mixed bag of results.

The second seat at Carlin has been held down by Formula 1 veteran Max Chilton, but with his Nissan duties at Le Mans taking precedence this weekend the squad was left looking for a replacement.

Former Renault Formula 1 pilot Nelson Piquet, Jr. was chosen to fill the seat and will make his American open wheel debut at the wheel of the second Carlin Mazda/Dallara during the Toronto twin-bill.  The 29 year-old Brazilian is currently leading the FIA Formula E Championship with only two races left.  He also currently competes in Red Bull Global Rally Cross Championship.   The son of three-time Formula 1 champion Nelson Piquet has extensive open wheel experience; scoring a championship in British Formula 3 (2004) and a vice-championship in GP2 (2006).

SPM with Curb-Agajanian sophomore Scott Anderson is coming off his best result of the year, a third place in the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  The 25 year-old from Colorado needs to use his experience in Toronto to stay ahead of his nearest championship contender, the speedy Felix Serralles.

Serralles, a native of Puerto Rico has shown an abundance of speed in 2015 but needs to finish races to move up the points table.  Twice this year the 22 year-old has had the quickest race laps (he also ranks third in average quickest race lap) but he has also failed to complete four races, the most of any Indy Lights driver.

A pole and second place finish in the Freedom 100 moved rookie driver Ethan Ringel from eleventh to eighth on the points table.  It will be interesting to see if the confidence 20 year-old GP3 veteran gained on the IMS oval can be harnessed and unleashed on the streets of Toronto.

Belardi Auto Racing’s sophomore Juan Piedrahita will hope that his experience at Toronto will translate into better results.  The 22 year-old from Bogata, Colombia has two podiums in his five races at Exhibition Place and he has finished no worse then seventh.

Shelby Blackstock, a 25 year-old will be making his second appearance at Toronto after starting two Pro Mazda races in 2013.  The Nashville, Tennessee native and his Andretti Autosport team continue to search for the necessary pace to compete at a level commiserate with Blackstock’s talent.

The Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Toronto Powered by Mazda will comprise two races and begin with a pair of practice sessions on Friday, June 12, at 10:05 a.m. and 5:25 p.m. EDT. Qualifying will take place at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday, June 13, followed by a 40-minute race at 4:45 p.m. The green flag for the 60-minute “feature” event is scheduled to fly at 11:45 p.m. on Sunday, June 14, immediately prior to the Verizon IndyCar Series headline event.

Sunday’s race will feature same-day coverage on NBCSN at 2:00 p.m. EDT. Live timing and commentary for all sessions will be available on the new Mazda Road to Indy App and at with full coverage on the IMS Radio Network to Sirius XM Satellite Radio,, and the INDYCAR App from Verizon.

Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire

After taking a year off from traveling “North of the Border” the Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire series returns to the 1.755 mile, 11-Turn Exhibition Place street circuit for two races.

Early season points leader Neil Alberico was overhauled by Santiago Urrutia during the series four race run in Indianapolis, but the margin is only a slender eight points.

Cape Motorsports with /WTR’s Alberico holds an experience advantage at an event that has limited practice time.  The 22 year-old Rising Star Racing backed driver has raced in Toronto twice.  The Los Gatos, California native scored one win and a fifth in 2013.

However, Urrutia, an 18 year-old Uruguayan has proven to be a quick study on new tracks.  The GP3 veteran has scored six podiums in nine races.

Weiron Tan and Timothe Buret join the two championship contenders as Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire race winners, but their inconstancy has left them looking up and hoping the top two fumble.  Both drivers will be making their debut appearance in Toronto.

20 year-old French native Buret has one win and shown tremendous pace (five times he’s scored the quickest or second quickest lap of the race), but three DNF’s have kept him from challenging the top two on the championship table.

Tan, a 19 year-old has scored three win, and a series best five poles, but also has four finishes worse than fournteenth.  The Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia born driver has lost a disappointing 43 spots from his starting positions.

Juncos Racing Will Owen will be looking to extend his podium streak to three.  The 20 year-old has used six straight top 10 finishes to vault himself into the top five in championship points.

Three “Canucks” will be racing in front of the home crowd.

Garett Grist from nearby Grimsby, Ontario currently sits sixth in pints and is riding a string of six straight finishes of 8th or better.

Dalton Kellett from Stouffville, Ontario hopes that a trip “home” will turn around a recent string of bad luck.  The 21 year-old who drives for Andretti Autosport recently graduated from the prestigious Queens University with a degree in Engineering Physics.

The third Canadian Pro Mazda driver is Daniel Burkett.  The Cape Motorsports with /WTR rookie, who hails from Winnipeg, Manitoba, will hope a trip north will snap a string of seven straight ninth and tenth place finishes for

The Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Toronto will start with a pair of practice sessions on Friday, followed by qualifying at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday and the first of two 40-minute races at 1:35 p.m. Race Two will start at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, June 14. Live timing and commentary for all sessions will be available on the new Mazda Road to Indy App and at

Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda

2015 will mark the third straight year that the Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda series will travel “north of the border” to take to the streets around Exhibition Place.  The four races have produced four different winners.  In 2013 it was Neil Alberico and Danilo Estrela that came away victorious, while last year Jake Eidson and Florian Latorre stood on the top step of the podium.

Only thirty points separate the sophomore drivers at the head of the USF2000 championship table.   Cape Motorsports with /WTR’s Nico Jamin sits at 233 markers, Pabst Racing’s Jake Eidson is only 15 back, while Cape Motorsports with /WTR’s Aaron Telitz sits a further 15 behind.

Jamin, an 18 year-old has four wins, seven poles and eight podiums in nine races.  The Rouen, France native contested two races in Toronto last year and scored finishes of 6th and 14th.

Destin, Florida based Eidson will look to repeat last year’s success at Exhibition Place.  The 20 year-old scored his first career USF2000 win in the first race at Toronto last year and followed that up with a 2nd place finish in the second race.

With one win and seven podiums in nine races, Aaron Telitz will look to make up ground on his fellow sophomores.  The 23 year-old has spent the entire season in second or third place in the championship.   Hailing from Rice Lake, Wisconsin, Telitz will need to turn some of his second place finishes into wins if he wants to challenge his fellow sophomores for the championship.

With two podiums and five fourth place finishes, Australian rookie Anthony Martin is currently the top rookie driver.   The 20 year-old who drives for John Cummiskey Racing will be making his first start in Toronto.

From Paul Tracy to Greg Moore to Alex Tagliani to James Hinchcliffe the Mazda Road To Indy  and the open wheel ladder has been good to Canadian Verizon IndyCar Series hopefuls.  This year, the lowest rung of the MRTI has two “Canucks” for home county fans to cheer for.

Red Deer, Alberta native Parker Thompson has been an impressive and consistent rookie who currently sits in 5th place in the championship.  After a rough start in the his first race in St. Petersburg, the … year old who is mentored by Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Rice has completed all but one lap so far and has scored seven top 6 finishes in the past eight races.

James Dayson, who hails from Vancouver, British Columbia is coming off his best performance in 33 USF2000 starts.  The oval race at Lucas Oil Raceway was the first time the … year old had raced on an oval and he was running in the top 10 until a mechanical problem sidelined him.  “Jimmy” isn’t your traditional MRTI driver, but his enthusiasm and willingness to learn is infectious.

Seat time in high-horsepower, high downforce cars is always a good thing for drivers aspiring to the Verizon IndyCar Series.   Keyvan Andres Soori and Garth Rickards have combined a full USF2000 race slate with a limited Atlantic Championship Series schedule and were at Virginia International Raceway this past weekend.

Sorri, who is currently 7th in the USF2000 standings scored a win and second place, while Rickards, who is currently 11th in the USF2000 standings also scored two podium finishes.

Soori, who is only 15 years-old will be looking to continue his string of consistent results.  The Naples, Florida based USF2000 sophomore has scored six top-7 finishes in nine race thus far.

Rickards, a USF2000 rookie from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania continues to search for consistency, as the 22 year-old’s pace hasn’t matched his results.  Rickards has the 7th quickest average race lap, but only the 13th best average finishing position.

This weekend’s Allied Building Products Grand Prix of Toronto will kick off with two practice sessions on Friday, June 12. Qualifying will take place at 9:20 a.m. on Saturday, and the green flag for the first of two 30-minute races will fly at 12:40 p.m. Race Two on Sunday, June 14, will start at 9:00 a.m. Live timing and commentary for all sessions will be available on the new Mazda Road to Indy App and at

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