Needing a bounce-back after an accident last race in Iowa, English rookie Jack Hawksworth delivered with an authoritative flag-to-flag victory from pole in Star Mazda's opening round of its doubleheader weekend in Toronto.
The win is Hawksworth's third of 2012, the first to that mark this season, and unofficially will regain the Team Pelfrey driver the championship lead over Connor De Phillippi. Hawksworth entered four points behind, but the win eclipsed De Phillippi's seventh. It's now a 13-point gap (166-153) between the two.
Hawksworth's top challenger from qualifying, and Iowa winner, Sage Karam, didn't even get off the starting line with a broken axle. Karam's Andretti Autosport teammate, Zach Veach, kept Hawksworth honest throughout and with second place earned his best result in Star Mazda competition thus far. Twice, Veach had finished third.
JDC Motorsports' Gabby Chaves completed the podium ahead of teammate Juan Piedrahita and Diego Ferreira, best of the four Juncos Racing entries.
De Phillippi, who started 15th, was among several drivers who posted a charge through the field despite several yellow flags interrupting the race pace. The team struggled with setup in qualifying but he recovered to finish seventh, doing a bit of damage limitation, and along with Petri Suvanto, were on the brink of top-five finishes behind Ferrreira.
Additionally, Hawksworth's teammate Gustavo Menezes turned in the most passes – climbing from 17th to eighth at the flag ahead of Zack Meyer (Aim Autosport) and Bruno Palli (Juncos).
Karam wasn't the only championship contender to have issues; Martin Scuncio, who entered the race third in points, finished a lapped 18th after suffering significant front wing damage.
Race two in Toronto goes green at 9:50 a.m. Eastern on Sunday.