Tristan Vautier closed right in on Indy Lights championship leader and Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammate Esteban Guerrieri by taking his third victory of the season in Trois-Rivieres in Canada.
Polesitter Vautier had to accept second place behind the flying Peter Dempsey at first, as Belardi Auto Racing's Irishman jumped from fifth to second away from the start, then grabbed the lead from Vautier. A gearbox problem would end Dempsey's day after just eight of 60 laps, though.
With Dempsey out, Vautier was free to edge away from Gustavo Yacaman and win by six seconds in the only Indy Lights round that takes place away from the IndyCar calendar.
"Yeah it was a nice test today," Vautier said. "The track is a real street course, it's hard physically, and we were under pressure after the past three races that were hard, and we got the win we needed, so I'm excited for my team. It was a great car. Big thanks to everyone, I'm really happy and the team was fantastic. We were fastest in eveyr session and we almost led every lap. I'd like to thank Mazda and MAZDASPEED, for allowing me to be here today.
Guerrieri could only manage fourth, denied the final podium spot by Carlos Munoz, so the Argentine's points lead is down to seven over Vautier with two rounds to go.
Title contender Sebastian Saavedra had to retire with a fuel pressure problem so is now 37 points adrift of Guerrieri.
Results - 60 laps:
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
1. Tristan Vautier Schmidt 59m09.0503s
2. Gustavo Yacaman Moore + 6.6530s
3. Carlos Munoz Andretti + 13.0633s
4. Esteban Guerrieri Schmidt + 15.5541s
5. Oliver Webb Schmidt + 37.9525s
6. David Ostella Moore + 1 lap
7. Jorge Goncalvez Belardi + 2 laps
Victor Carbone Schmidt 29 laps
Sebastian Saavedra AFS/Andretti 22 laps
Juan Pablo Garcia Jeffrey Mark 11 laps
Peter Dempsey Belardi 8 laps