Neil Alberico vaulted from eighth place to third in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda standings following a finely judged victory in this morning's sixth round, the Analytic Systems USF2000 Grand Prix of Toronto. Alberico, 20, from Los Gatos, Calif., controlled the race from the pole and refused to be flustered by no fewer than three full-course cautions which ensured a frantic one-lap dash to the finish line.
Alberico (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) held on for his third win of a topsy-turvy season which has also included three non-finishes in the six races held to date.
Sixteen-year-old Frenchman Florian Latorre (JAY Motorsports) produced a sensational performance by moving past championship leader Scott Hargrove at the start and keeping the pressure on Alberico for the entire 25-lap race. Latorre, too, had his work cut out in holding off the attentions of another 16-year-old, Henrik Furuseth, from Oslo, Norway, until the final restart when Furuseth was overtaken by an opportunistic Danilo Estrela (Belardi Auto Racing). Estrela, from Goiania, Brazil, had qualified a disappointing 11th but gradually worked his way forward before securing his third podium finish of the season with a bold maneuver at Turn Eight on the final lap.
Estrela now holds second place in the point standings behind Hargrove, who leads by 148-106, with Alberico now up to third place on 99.
Hargrove's hopes of extending his lead took a blow when he made contact with Latorre at the first restart, on Lap 8, causing damage to his car's front suspension. Fortunately, another full-course caution followed almost immediately, whereupon his Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing team called him into the pits and changed a damaged steering arm in near record time. Hargrove resumed in 25th position among the 29-car field and worked his way through to 14th by the finish.
Furuseth was relatively content with fourth, the best finish thus far for himself and PRL Motorsports, while yet another 16-year-old, RC Enerson, from New Port Richey, Fla., took fifth for ZSports Midwest with Team E Racing.
Englishman Michael Epps made an impressive return to the series, finishing sixth with Belardi Auto Racing after missing the most recent race at Lucas Oil Raceway.
Toronto driver Dalton Kellett upheld local honor with a run to seventh for Pabst Racing Services, while Brazilian Felipe Donato (ArmsUp Motorsports) and Stefan Rzadzinski (JDC MotorSports), from Edmonton, Alb., confirmed the current parity that exists in USF2000 by ensuring that eight different teams were represented among the top nine finishers.
Scott Rettich (Alliance Autosport), from Camden, Ohio, maintained his unbeaten sequence of victories in the USF2000 National Class Presented by SCCA Enterprises.