TORONTO, Ont., Canada – Danial Frost scored a fine victory for the Canadian-owned Exclusive Autosport team in this morning’s Cooper Tires Grand Prix Presented by Allied Building Products on the streets around Exhibition Place just a few miles from downtown Toronto. Frost, 17, from Singapore, grasped the lead with an opportunistic move at the first corner and held on to win by just 0.45 seconds over Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires points leader Rasmus Lindh (Juncos Racing).
Canadian Parker Thompson, from Red Deer, Alb., completed the podium for Abel Motorsports.
Last year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 champion Kyle Kirkwood, from Jupiter, Fla., held the advantage of starting at the front of the grid after posting the fastest time in qualifying yesterday for RP Motorsport USA. But when he left a slight gap to the inside in the braking area for Turn One, directly in front of the Princes’ Gates arch, Frost gratefully ducked through it to vault from third on the grid to the lead. Lindh, from Gothenburg, Sweden, also took advantage of Kirkwood having to run a little wide on the exit and was able to accelerate cleanly into second place as the field roared along Lake Shore Boulevard for the first time.
Kirkwood’s morning went from bad to worse on the second lap when Guatemalan teammate Ian Rodriguez thought he saw an opening at the tricky Turn Five and dived to the inside under braking. The resulting contact saw Kirkwood limp his way back to the pit lane with a broken nosecone and damaged suspension. Rodriguez escaped unscathed initially, although Sting Ray Robb (Juncos Racing), from Payette, Idaho, saw his chance to nip ahead into third place at Turn Six.
The first of two full-course cautions came shortly afterward when Mexico’s Moises de la Vara crashed heavily in Turn 11. And while the field circulated behind the Pace Car, the race stewards instructed Rodriguez to move from fourth place to the back of the field as penance for his earlier incident with Kirkwood, who had rejoined the race a lap down.
Frost maintained control at the restart as Juncos teammates Lindh and Robb battled over second place in his wake. The two green-and-white cars traded positions a couple of times before Robb strayed wide on the exit of Turn Six on Lap 15 and ended his day with broken left-rear suspension.
Antonio Serravalle, from nearby Unionville, Ont., briefly slotted into third place in his family-run car before being overtaken by Thompson at Turn Three.
After one more caution period, when Charles Finelli, from Locust Valley, N.Y., collected the tire barriers in Turn Eight, a five-lap dash to the checkered flags saw Frost working hard to fend off the attentions of Lindh before securing his second win and the second PFC Award for team owner Michael Duncalfe.
Thompson finished third ahead of Serravalle, 16, who had posted by far his most impressive drive to date, while Rodriguez worked his way through to fourth at the finish after setting the fastest lap of the race. Jacob Abel took home the Tilton Hard Charger Award after a sensible drive from 12th on the grid to sixth in his family-run Abel Motorsports entry.
The Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires will continue tomorrow with the green flag for Round Nine set for 9:55 a.m. Kirkwood once again will start from the pole position after posting the fastest time during a dedicated qualifying session on Friday evening.
Danial Frost (#68 Den-Jet Exclusive Autosport Tatuus PM-18): “It was a total roller coaster today. I decided to go for it at the start and for some reason I got into first place! Then we had to maintain that spot for the rest of the race. I focused on getting my laps down and pulling away from Rasmus, rather than watching my mirrors too much. We had to protect the lead on two restarts, and Rasmus had a chance on that last one but we held him off. I’m so happy to get this win: We didn’t have the best of luck at Road America so to get this now is great momentum for us. Exclusive Autosport gave me a great car; we were able to show the speed that we have today and show our potential.”
Rasmus Lindh (#10 Chicago Pneumatic/PWR Junior Team/SKF-Juncos Racing Tatuus PM-18): “Kyle braked quite early; he may have been leery of the slippery patch going into Turn One. Then Danial went through the inside of both of us. He ran a good race; we didn’t have the pace to win. All the guys in the championship are fast but we gained points on Kyle today. We’re looking to win the championship, so I’d rather finish second than last. But the main thing is to win. We’ll work on a few things, like straightaway speed so we can draft better, and go for the win (tomorrow).”
Parker Thompson (#8 Abel Construction/Badlands Motorsports Resort-Abel Motorsports Tatuus PM-18): “With all the sponsors and fans that are here this weekend, this is the biggest race of the year for me. But the story of today really starts with qualifying yesterday. We had pace for a top three but a gutsy tire strategy and an untimely red flag took away our chances to start higher than seventh – and this is the last place you want to start that far back; that’s the danger zone. So going in, our thoughts were just about surviving the first few laps. Through attrition and some nice passes, we chipped away at it. The hand came to us and we ended up on the podium. These are the types of days that can make a championship.”