A mistake in the rain from Myles Rowe handed Michael d’Orlando victory in the opening USF Pro 2000 race in Toronto.
The pair shared the front row of the grid and poleman Rowe got himself clear of all the jostling for position that took place on lap one.
Salvador de Alba passed d’Orlando for second on lap two, and he was not able to reclaim the position until lap four when he went down the inside of de Alba at turn three.
Rowe set the fastest lap so he finished that lap 1.23 seconds clear of d’Orlando, but on the lap after it was down to 0.43s and then to 0.35s.
D’Orlando’s first go at the lead came on lap seven, and he attempted the same move on the next laps but could not make an overtake happen.
Rowe was leading by 0.65s when a caution period was called on lap 15 of 25 after Louka St.-Jean and Jack William Miller collided at turn five the previous lap. St.-Jean had tried passing down the inside of Miller but did not get his car turned into the corner and it sent both into the barriers.
By the time the two crashed cars had been cleared, menacing clouds lurked over the track. The arrival of rain prolonged the caution period, until race control decided to red flag the race on lap 20 so drivers could head to the pits to put on wet-weather tyres.
D’Orlando had been 0.92s clear of de Alba prior to the caution period, with similar gaps back to Joel Granfors in fourth and Jace Denmark in fifth. Those two had swapped positions on lap 10, marking the only change for position in the top 10 after lap one other than d’Orlando’s move on de Alba.
The track was soaked by the time the race restarted, with lap 21 taking place behind the pace car. Rowe found out how difficult it was being first into the corners at racing speeds as he went too deep at turn three. He stopped and reversed his car without any further drama, but dropped to 10th.
Jordan Missig spun at the exit of the corner so he gained back a place, then he passed Ricardo Escotto too as almost went into the tyre barriers.
D’Orlando meanwhile inherited the lead ahead of de Alba, and Zendeli passed four cars to get into third. On the next lap Nicholas Monteiro went off at turn one and Zendeli clipped the tyre barrier at turn eight but it did not cost him a position.
A lap later Jonathan Browne crashed there, and the race was put under full course yellow conditions in the final moments. That paused Zendeli’s fight with Granfors and Denmark for third, and after the FCY was called Denmark slid off and dropped to 10th. That promoted Rowe to seventh, and meant his championship lead was only reduced by three points.
Lindsay Brewer and Yuven Sundaramoorthy got into trouble early on in the race and were lapped after pitting.
Race result (30 laps)
|1||Michael d’Orlando||Turn 3 Motorsport||46m15.5860s|
|2||Salvador de Alba||Exclusive Autosport||+0.9209s|
|3||Lirim Zendeli||TJ Speed||+1.4807s|
|4||Joel Granfors||Exclusive Autosport||+1.7260s|
|5||Kiko Porto||DEForce Racing||+3.1294s|
|6||Francesco Pizzi||TJ Speed||+3.5237s|
|7||Myles Rowe||Pabst Racing||+3.7997s|
|8||Christian Brooks||Turn 3 Motorsport||+5.2342s|
|10||Jace Denmark||Pabst Racing||+8.2466s|
|11||Jordan Missig||Pabst Racing||+11.3253s|
|12||Nicholas Monteiro||NeoTech Motorsport||+19.8695s|
|13||Christian Weir||TJ Speed||+23.9443s|
|14||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Exclusive Autosport||+1 lap|
|15||Jonathan Browne||Turn 3 Motorsport||+2 laps|
|16||Lindsay Brewer||Exclusive Autosport||+2 laps|
|Ret||Bijoy Garg||DEForce Racing|
|Ret||Jack William Miller||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports|
|Ret||Louka St.-Jean||Turn 3 Motorsport|
|Fastest lap: Escotto, 1m09.8357s