Kyle Kirkwood claimed a hard-earned third Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires victory – and his third in as many starts at the unforgiving 1.786-mile Exhibition Place street circuit in Toronto – for the RP Motorsports USA team.
Floridian Kirkwood, winner of last year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 championship, was pushed every inch of the way by Canadian favorite Parker Thompson (Abel Motorsports), while current points leader Rasmus Lindh (Juncos Racing) finished close behind in third.
The top three were separated by no more than a few car lengths throughout a gripping 30-lap race which was interrupted only briefly by an incident on the opening lap in Turn Four involving yesterday’s winner, Singaporean Danial Frost (Exclusive Autosport), and local driver Antonio Serravalle (Pserra Racing), which ended with Serravalle’s car making solid contact with the wall.
Kirkwood, who had defended his pole position perfectly on the run toward Turn One, maintained his lead at the restart but was never able to eke out any breathing room.
Indeed, the top five cars, driven by Kirkwood, Thompson, Lindh, Lindh’s Juncos Racing teammte Sting Ray Robb and a rapidly recovering Frost, ran as a snarling high-speed train for the first 20 laps, trading fastest laps on a consistent basis.
All five were very closely matched, but, with overtaking no easy task on the Toronto streets, each driver knew a mistake by the driver ahead would be the only way to make a pass for position.
The pace continued to intensify, with Lindh finally recording a new lap record of 1m07.0213s (95.934 mph) on the penultimate lap, but Kirkwood made no mistakes, assuring his victory and RP Motorsport’s third PFC Award of the season.
A last-ditch effort by Lindh to find a way past Thompson on the final lap slightly slowed both and saw Kirkwood cross the line with his biggest margin of the race — 1.7233 seconds over Thompson, whose fourth consecutive podium finish earned him a move back to second place in the championship points table, narrowly ahead of both Kirkwood and Frost, who finally found a way past Robb for fifth after 20 laps.
Guatemalan Ian Rodriguez couldn’t find quite the same pace as yesterday but still finished a solid sixth ahead of Jacob Abel (Abel Motorsports) who earned his second Tilton Hard Charger Award (after starting 12th on the grid) in as many days.
Provisional championship points after nine of 16 rounds:
1. Rasmus Lindh, 237
2. Parker Thompson, 207
3. Kyle Kirkwood, 205
4. Danial Frost, 202
5. Sting Ray Robb, 173
6. Nikita Lastochkin, 137
7. Phillippe Denes, 118
8. Kory Enders, 116
9. Moises de la Vara, 114
10. Jacob Abel, 106
Rounds 10 and 11 of the 16-race Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires will be July 27-28 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.