TORONTO – New engine, no problem for Matthew Brabham Sunday at Exhibition Place.
The runaway leader in this year’s Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires was forced to run a fresh SpeedSource Mazda rotary engine in his No. 83 MAZDASPEED/Team Andretti Autosport entry after his engine was collected for a routine verification yesterday evening. It made no difference as the 19-year-old from Boca Raton, Fla., once again won convincingly this morning in the second leg of the Allied Building Products Grand Prix of Toronto.
Brabham stayed with his team until almost 11 p.m. on Saturday night while they worked to install the fresh motor, then was allowed a solitary “hardship lap” at 7:55 a.m. this morning to ensure that all was well. It was. Brabham made a fine getaway from the standing start – a first for Pro Mazda this season – and soon began stretching his margin over the remainder of the field.
Scott Anderson, from Fort Collins, Colo., initially gave chase for Juncos Racing before making a mistake in Turn One on lap two and slipping to the back of the field. Colombian Juan Piedrahita (JDC MotorSports) stepped into the breach but was unable to keep pace with Brabham, who stretched his advantage by more than a second per lap.
Diego Ferreira, in the second Juncos Racing entry, finally found a way past Piedrahita on lap five but was unable to make any impression on the leader. The Venezuelan’s hopes were raised by a full-course caution on lap 16 after Spencer Pigot’s miserable weekend with Team Pelfrey ended with contact against the wall at turn three, but once again Brabham was in a class by himself at the restart, posting a series of fastest race laps before taking the checkered flag five seconds to the good.
Brabham’s seventh successive win catapults him to a 65-point margin over Ferreira in the battle to earn a scholarship to graduate into Firestone Indy Lights via the Mazda Road to Indy for 2014. It also leaves him just one shy of the single-season record of eight established by last year’s champion Jack Hawksworth.
Ferreira finished as runner-up for the second straight day, while Brazilian Nicolas Costa once again took third for Team Pelfrey after passing Piedrahita on Lap Nine, only to be penalized 25 seconds at the end of the race for having overtaken a lapped car under yellow flag (no-passing) conditions. Costa’s penalty dropped him to sixth place and elevated Piedrahita to the final podium position.