Texan Clark Toppe returns to USF2000, joined by F1600 standout Garth Rickards
LAKEVILLE, MINN. – The Honda Indy Toronto is quickly approaching for teams in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda with the JDC MotorSports operation primed and ready. This event is set for this coming weekend (July 18-20) as the eighth and ninth rounds of the 2014 season will take the USF2000 racers, including JDC’s pilots Clark Toppe and newcomer Garth Rickards, north of the border to the streets of Toronto, Ontario. Toppe is riding high coming into Toronto after a successful debut in the Pro Mazda series in Houston. Toppe and JDC have been hitting their marks so far in 2014, riding the young pilot’s continuing development as Toppe sits comfortably inside the top 10 of the USF2000 driver points. With an impressive top-five finish on the banked Lucas Oil Raceway in the ‘Night Before The 500’ event and a strong sixth in the second Pro Mazda race in Houston, the Texan enters this event with renewed momentum and confidence. Rickards is the current point leader in the F1600 Championship Series and is excited to make his USF2000 debut with JDC.
Upon crossing the border into Canada, Toppe and Rickards will be greeted by a 1.755-mile long 11-turn street circuit that carves its way through the lakeshore streets of Toronto, the country’s largest city. The 2013 version of the Toronto Indy is one on which Toppe and JDC will be aiming to greatly improve. As a rookie in the series, Clark got quicker in every session, but was caught in on-track incidents in both races, carding finishing positions outside the top-20. With 2013 well behind him, Toppe is a safe bet to do well on the street course in Ontario. The event marks the second temporary circuit race of the season, as the first was the opener in St. Petersburg in March where Toppe posted a fifth-place finish in the Sunday event of the doubleheader.
“Last year, we had a rough time in Toronto,” Toppe admitted, recalling his first trip to the event as a USF2000 freshman. “I never quite found the speed there despite improving in every session. And to make matters worse, I was involved in an incident in each race. Hopefully, that bad luck was left at last year’s race and we can continue to improve as we have been all season long. I’m looking forward to the weekend because of my success this year on street courses, and I’m focused on continue our forward momentum so we get good points for the championship."
The Texan has been very solid throughout 2014. With the help of his JDC MotorSports engineers and crew, Toppe has been making big strides during each and every race weekend and test session. The 17-year-old high school student currently sits seventh in the driver’s championship standings prior to Toronto. Toppe’s season thus far has been highlighted by three top-five finishes (St. Pete, Indianapolis and Lucas Oil Raceway), which are part of four top-10 finishes through seven races. In a program where consistency is so important, Toppe has not finished outside of the top 15 all year.
Along with Clark’s impressive numbers in 2014, the JDC driver is sure to be smiling in Toronto after his stellar debut in the Pro Mazda category at last month’s Grand Prix of Houston. Toppe came into the weekend looking to gain experience and familiarize himself with the bigger and more powerful Pro Mazda machine. Toppe did more than just gain experience. After feeling things out and cutting nearly a full second from the first practice session to the second, Toppe put his #91 JDC Motorsports entry 13th on the starting gird for the first race. After electrical issues dampened Toppe’s first race, he returned to race two with purpose. Toppe drove from 12th to sixth, passing six cars to card a very impressive result in his home race and Pro Mazda debut.
Rickards arrives in Toronto leading the points in the ultra-competitive F1600 program, having shown tremendous consistency. He has finished in the top five in all eight races this year, including five podiums. With an eye on moving into the Mazda Road to Indy and USF2000 in 2015, this weekend will be an important step in Garth’s development.
“I am very excited to be joining JDC MotorSports for the USF2000 races in Toronto,” said Rickards. “A couple of years ago, I was sitting in the stands dreaming of what it would be like to be a part of the Mazda Road to Indy. Now it's becoming a reality. I feel this is an important stepping stone in my career and I am ready to gain experience for 2015.”
JDC Team Owner John Church is very high on the young 21 year-old from Pennsylvania. “I'm very excited to have Garth join the team for Toronto,” said Church. “He's displayed incredible speed and consistency during his rookie F1600 season, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do in our USF2000 car.”
JDC MotorSports’, Clark Toppe and Garth Rickards followers can tune into the live audio play-by-play of the Toronto Indy on www.usf2000.com/results/live-timing to hear all the action. Toppe and Rickards will be on-track on Friday, July 18 for practice sessions at 8:30 am and 1:15 pm ahead of a late afternoon qualifying session at 5:50 pm. The opening race of the doubleheader will take place at 6:15 pm on Saturday, July 19 while the second race is set for 9:05 am on Sunday, July 20. All times are Eastern.
About JDC MotorSports:
Involved in formula car racing since its inception in 1994, JDC MotorSports has established itself as one of the leading junior open-wheel teams in North America. Initially making its mark in the F2000 class of club racing competition, JDC Motorsports was soon a team worth watching in the pro ranks. Competing in the Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship, the team not only won races, but also helped develop multiple young drivers. In 2005, JDC Motorsports expanded its efforts, entering the Star Mazda Championship. Quickly becoming one of the top teams in the series, JDC captured both the driver and team titles in 2007, as well as Rookie of the Year honors, with Dane Cameron scoring a series-high three wins. In 2008, JDC Motorsports was the runner-up in the Star Mazda Championship and finished fourth in its inaugural season of F2000 Championship Series competition. The Minnesota-based team won the Star Mazda Championship title with Rookie of the Year Adam Christodoulou, and the F2000 Championship Series title with Chris Miller in 2009. The following year, JDC continued its winning ways, earning the Rookie of the Year award in the Star Mazda Championship with Connor De Philippi, and scoring a non-points win in the USF2000 National Championship. In 2011, the Minneapolis-based squad captured its third Star Mazda Championship title with Tristan Vautier, scored a win in the USF2000 National Championship, and made its Prototype Lites Championship debut, earning five podium finishes. JDC Motorsports added to its Star Mazda Championship win tally, USF2000 Championship podium total, and finished as the Prototype Lites Championship runner-up in 2012. Last year, the squad continued its run of Pro Mazda and USF2000 podium finishes, and was third in the Prototype Lites title fight.