TORONTO, Ontario – Just one day after claiming his first Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship pole and podium finish, Denmark’s Christian Rasmussen went one better.
Rasmussen claimed the first victory for himself and the Jay Howard Driver Development team, on Sunday, finishing barely a car’s length ahead of Saturday winner Darren Keane at the conclusion of a dramatic 20-lap Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Toronto presented by Allied Building Products main event on the challenging Exhibition Place street circuit.
Englishman Matt Round-Garrido profited from a variety of incidents to claim a hard-earned first podium finish.
“I’ve got goosebumps!” said an elated Rasmussen. “I’ve been waiting such a long time for this first win and first podium this weekend. I managed to get Darren at the start and build from there, pulling a gap again on the restarts. That last restart was a little too intense, because Darren was right there, but I managed to pull it off and I’m so happy.
“I really enjoy the street races; they are much more driver-dependent than other tracks. We struggled a bit early in the season to find our pace, but we’re on a roll now and I can’t wait for the next race.”
Anxious to atone for an error which cost him a potential victory yesterday, second-starting Rasmussen made an incisive move to the inside of polesitter Keane at the first corner to take the lead.
Behind, Colin Kaminsky also took advantage of Keane’s loss of momentum to sneak through into second place at turn three.
Rasmussen’s teammate, Christian Bogle, was the biggest mover on the first lap, pulling off an audacious outbraking maneuver at turn three – perfectly cleanly – to vault from 10th on the grid to fourth by the completion of the first lap.
That move placed Bogle ahead of Brazil’s Eduardo Barrichello and series leader Braden Eves.
Bogle soon slipped down the order, but still seemed to be set for a career-best seventh-place finish until clipping a wall moments before the third and final full-course caution. Unfortunately for him, the clean-up was completed just in time for a one-lap dash to the checkers, so he had no option but to head for the pit lane as a retirement.
Up front, meanwhile, Rasmussen had managed to eke out a little breathing space by the time the caution flags waved for the first time after seven laps due to a spin for Barrichello in turn three.
Rasmussen maintained his advantage over Kaminsky at the restart, and again following another caution period shortly afterward when Barrichello’s teammate, Jack William Miller, found the wall in turn five.
Rasmussen was gifted a much greater cushion on lap 16, when Keane muscled his way past Kaminsky into second place at turn three. Kaminsky then came under intense pressure from the second Cape car of Eves, who attempted a similar move in turn one – which again ended in contact and ensured yet another full-course caution.
Eves and Kaminsky were able to continue after stopping in the pits, but could manage only distant 11th- and 12th-place finishes, respectively.
The one-lap dash to the finish saw Rasmussen barely hold off Keane, while Round-Garrido was hot on their tail in third, just ahead of DEForce teammates Manuel Sulaiman and 14-year-old Jak Crawford.
Australian Cameron Shields rounded out the top six finishers despite losing a lot of ground in the early stages. Next up was Brazilian Bruna Tomaselli, who earned the Tilton Hard Charger Award for climbing all the way from 16th on the grid to seventh.