TORONTO -- Parker Thompson has always had a hectic weekend the last few years at the Honda Indy Toronto. The overwhelming majority of the Red Deer, Alberta native’s sponsorship activation is based around the Exhibition Place weekend.
The Indy Pro 2000 Championship presented by Cooper Tires competitor has won on the streets of Toronto three times during his stint in the Road to Indy program and is looking to close on Indy Pro 2000 points leader Rasmus Lindh as the championship approaches the midway point north of the border.
Thompson races for Abel Motorsports, a first-year team in Indy Pro 2000. After winning the first two races of 2019, Thompson scored a pair of fifths at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then a 10th at Lucas Oil Raceway (in Brownsburg, Ind.).
“If you look at where we were as a team coming out of the Indianapolis Grand Prix to where we are as a team now, we’ve made some very big improvements,” said Thompson. “We still have a long way to go, but if you look at where the championship is at versus where the season is at -- not even halfway yet -- we still have some series tests to go do. I have high hopes if we can keep this momentum I think this is a championship we can take.”
For Thompson, there are many differences from 2018 to 2019. Last year while driving for Exclusive Autosport, Thompson was leading the points after Road America and knew he was racing the entire 2018 season. This year the deficit to first is 27 points heading to Toronto and Thompson is on a race-to-race deal, but the No. 8 Abel Construction Tatuus PM-18 has some extra help this year as veteran engineer Tom Knapp helped the team at Road America.
Knapp, a former Indy car engineer, was behind Team Pelfrey’s success in what was then known as Pro Mazda in 2016. Aaron Telitz and Patricio O’Ward won 13 out of 16 races that year with Telitz winning the championship and Thompson is happy with his progress so far with Knapp’s guidance.
“So far it’s been unbelievable, and I only expect things to get better if they continue,” Thompson said.
Besides racing for a different team, there is another large difference for Thompson heading into Toronto this year as he picked up a drive in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Canada championship. Currently Thompson is second to Roman De Angelis in points.
Thompson will have four races to run with two in Indy Pro 2000 and two in the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars but not a lot will carry over between the two cars. Indy Pro 2000 cars are around 1,100 pounds and have 280 horsepower compared to a sports car that weighs roughly 3,000 pounds and has 480 horsepower.
“It’s going to take me being on my game in order to switch my styles and be competitive in both categories,” said Thompson. “It gives you a birds eye view and lines you wouldn’t consider in an Indy Pro car, you might try because it’s working in another car. It might allow me to be a little bit more creative so that could be a benefit.”
The action at Exhibition Place starts Friday with Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship practice at 8 ET. All of the action can be followed on the Road To Indy app and at racecontrol.indycar.com.