Just give the man his trophy now and be done with it. Andretti Autosport’s Matthew Brabham sweeps the weekend’s two races. …again! After finishing as low as third in the opening race of the season at the Circuit of the Americas, Matthew “Matty Brabs” Brabham hasn’t lost a race since, and in the last four races he’s been absolutely perfect. As he did at Lucas Oil Raceway on the Night Before the 500 and again at the Milwaukee Mile, Brabham won the pole for both races on the Streets of Toronto, lead flag-to-flag, and set the fastest race lap, thereby maximizing his points and vaulting his championship lead over Juncos Racing’s Diego Ferriera to 250 over 185.
As soon as the green flag dropped Brabham quickly began to stretch out a lead, building a four-second gap on JDC MotorSport’s Juan Piedrahita. He maintained that gap until the race’s half-way mark where he began to stretch it out even further, taking the checkered flag with a huge 12-second lead.
“It was a close race at the start. Juan [Piedrahita] was really quick at the start and Diego [Ferreira] was right behind him. They were able to get quite close in the tow and down the back straight on the first lap. But once I just managed to start pulling away and break the tow a little bit, then it was a matter of getting through the back markers and making sure I kept it off all the walls and kept my focus. It was a long race for me out there in front. I can’t thank the guys at Andretti enough. They have been predicting the track and have been basically spot on the whole weekend so hopefully we will do the same tomorrow. I am just over the moon at the moment.” — Matthew Brabham, #83 Andretti Autosport
The real action was back immediately behind Brabham. Piedrahita started in P2 and looked to be comfortable there, holding off Juncos Racing’s Diego Ferriera. Diego had a great start, jumping from his starting position in fifth and moving to Juan’s gearbox in third. Juan’s car would eventually betray him as one of his tires developed a slow leak. With Juan’s handling compromised, Diego would make the pass to take over P2 on Lap 17 of 25. Unfortunately for Juan, this would not be the only position he’d lose. The tire eventually failed forcing him to retire on the penultimate lap, dropping him back to P7.
One real standout in Race #1 was Team Pelfrey’s newest pilot, Nicolas Costa who takes over the #82 machine from Anders Krohn. In his first competitive effort in a Pro Mazda machine, he qualified on the inside of Row 2, right behind the championship leader and pole sitter Matthew Brabham. Although his start was less than stellar, he recovered nicely finishing in third and scoring a podium finish in his first race with the team.
“In the practices, we were struggling a bit with the car and with myself because I had to learn the track which was new for me because I never raced a street race course before. It was all new to me but in qualifying we managed to get a pretty good setup and I turned some quite fast laps to start third. My start was pretty bad. I got passed everywhere and I think ended up like seventh or eighth. The car was really good and I managed to fight back. It was amazing to be able to fight back and make it up to the podium.” — Nicolas Costa, #82 Team Pelfrey
Brabham picked up right where he left off and put in another dominating performance on the Streets of Toronto, taking his seventh win of the season. He’s on track to break Peter Dempsey’s record of being Pro Mazda’s winningest driver with nine wins, and is one win away from breaking Jack Hawksworth’s single-season record of eight wins. He could well accomplish both feats this weekend at Mosport.
Brabham was untouchable, easily pulling away from his competitors on the start and during a late-race restart, and laying down lap times that were on the order of a full second faster than his nearest competitors.
“The Andretti Autosport guys are just absolutely amazing guys. I’m just speechless – I’m so psyched about this win. I’m just riding on top of the moon. We had an advantage over everybody, and hopefully we can keep that the rest of the season. But, I’m just going to enjoy it while it lasts because it doesn’t happen that often. My dad has been trying to keep me humble, so I’m going to take the wins as they come, but I am so pleased. The track is really grippy right now, so you can really throw the car around. It was so much fun the last couple laps since the IndyCars rubbered it down. The people in Toronto are fantastic, the crowd was out there for our race, so it makes the win that much better.” — Matthew Brabham, #83 Andretti Autosport
Brabham’s own private Sunday drive out in front didn’t mean that there was no action during Race #2. Diego Ferriera, Juan Piedrahita, and Nicolas Costa put on a great show for P2. After starting the race in sixth position, Ferriera was able to trackdown and overtake Piedrahita for P2 on Lap 5. He was unable to make up time on Brabham, though, who was already gone. Spencer Pigot, who had an absolutely dreadful weekend, brought out the race’s only full-course caution as he ended his race wadded up in the Turn 1 wall. Pigot, who had given Brabham strong competition last year in USF2000, has seen this year’s championship slip farther and farther from his grasp. On the restart, Diego had nothing for Brabham as the Andretti Autosport resumed his blistering pace. He was able to keep at bay Juan and Nicolas, and secured another P2 finish, his second of the weekend and his sixth podium of the year.
“It was a good race. I was able to pass to go from sixth to second. It took a lot of laps to go from third to second with [Juan] Piedrahita on the ball and by then Matthew [Brabham] was already gone. We had a yellow and I tried my best to stay with him on the restart but it was hard to do. I had to be careful with [Nicolas Costa] behind me too as he was coming. It was a good weekend to go from bad starting positions to two podiums.” — Diego Ferreira, #57 Juncos Racing
Costa was able to make his way around Piedrahita for P3 and what looked to be his second podium finish of the weekend, but during a local yellow, he passed a lapped car that had slowed down and waved him by. Caught up in a bad situation, Costa was penalized 25 seconds after the race moving him from third down to sixth in the final classification.
“I overtook a backmarker on the straight while there was a local yellow flag. I wasn’t going to overtake him initially but he waved me by and he lifted for me to pass, so as it was a local yellow I didn’t really know what to do – whether to pass him or not – but I decided not to brake on the straight, otherwise I would lose everything I did in the race to that point in the race. It was the wrong call. In the end it was my fault and I’m sure I’m going to learn from it, and hopefully the next weekend is going to be even better.” — Nicolas Costa, #82 Team Pelfrey.
This weekend, the Pro Mazda Championship joins the American Le Mans Series at Mosport. Listen to the live call by Rob Howden, follow live timing and scoring, and chat with fellow fans and series officials at http://promazdachampionship.com/timing/index.html.