Rickards makes his USF2000 debut, Toppe earns top-five and Tilton Hard Charger Award
TORONTO, ONT., CANADA – The JDC MotorSports team contested the Honda Indy Toronto this past weekend in the Canadian city of Toronto (July 18-20). As the second street course of the 2014 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered By Mazda, the two races provided plenty of challenges, including inclement weather, slick conditions and, eventually, a packed Sunday schedule. After practice and qualifying on Friday, racing was rained out on Saturday as the track was deemed unsafe for competition. This forced JDC MotorSports drivers Clark Toppe and Garth Rickards – as well as the rest of the USF2000 field – to run both of the weekend’s two races on Sunday. In his USF2000 debut, Rickards drove to a pair of 16th-place finishes, while Toppe ran 11th in the first race before slicing his way up to fifth place in the second main event.
Texas pilot Clark Toppe came into Toronto ready to get back behind the wheel of his JDC MotorSports USF2000 car, having joined the team’s Pro Mazda squad for the Grand Prix of Houston in late June. Toppe began the weekend by running 15th in the first official practice session, giving him a baseline in the search for speed. Adjustments were made for the second practice and Clark cut nine tenths of a second off his fast time, which was good enough to move him to 12th on the timesheets. Toppe found more speed in the weekend’s qualifying session, as did the rest of the USF2000 field. Toppe’s best lap was a 1:11.760, which placed him 16th on the first race’s starting grid. After Saturday’s action was washed out, Clark was back on-track in the first timeslot on Sunday (7:45 am). When Race #1 went green, he attacked quickly in the wet morning conditions, running lap times consistent with drivers in the top-five as he picked off competitors right through to the race’s end, where he finished in the 11th position. The day’s second USF2000 race took place just a few hours later, making it a quick turn-around for the drivers. The track had dried by this time, so the cars were set-up running Cooper slicks, offering a new challenge for the young JDC pilots. Toppe took advantage of his inside starting spot for this race (15th) and went to work. Toppe ran well from the start before his JDC MotorSports machine found its sweet spot during the second half of the race. Toppe avoided the carnage that happened all around him and gained a total of 10 positions to finish the race in fifth place. The impressive run earned him the Tilton Hard Charger Award. Leaving Toronto, Toppe now sits in the seventh position in drivers' points.
“The weekend started a little rough in Toronto,” Toppe stated. “I’ll admit that it took a little time to get used to the USF2000 car again coming from the Pro Mazda in Houston. That was an interesting transition. During qualifying I tagged the wall about a quarter of the way through the session, which prevented us from getting the best of starting spots. I had to work my way up through the field in both races and JDC MotorSports gave me a great car to do so. Coming out of the weekend with another top-five helps build some momentum entering the technical Mid-Ohio."
F1600 Championship Series point leader Garth Rickards joined the JDC Motorsports outfit for the first time this weekend in Toronto. The Pennsylvania racer consistently improved and advanced up the leaderboard throughout the Toronto race weekend. Rickards began the event with a focus on learning the track and searching for speed during the two Friday practice sessions. Over the two runs, Rickards dropped nearly two full seconds in preparation for qualifying. The initial runs were not without incident, as Garth’s first session was cut short after he was hit by another competitor while recovering from a spin in Turn One. The JDC team worked diligently to get him back on track for the second practice. Qualifying was a focus on more track time, and Rickards’ first two USF2000 races would see him start in the 19th position based on his times. Garth’s debut weekend in USF2000 had its ups and downs, including a couple of spins in the challenging wet conditions, and in the end he carded a pair of 16th-place finishes.
“It was quite the learning experience and I took a lot away from the event,” Rickards offered. “I started to get settled in during the first practice - that is, until the Turn One incident that happened under yellow. The crew at JDC MotorSports are some of the best guys out there and they got me back out there for the rest of the sessions, thankfully. The schedule was a bit different than I’m used to because of the rain cancellation on Saturday. Race One was a huge learning curve for me, as it was my first time on a street circuit in the wet and in the car on a full wet track. Race Two, I started to find a groove and was catching the cars in front, but about halfway through the race our shift mechanism failed and I had to retire early. Overall, it was a tough weekend but I feel I learned what I needed to and I am ready to finish out my F1600 Championship strong. I hope to be back in USF2000 full time next year"
JDC MotorSports and its USF2000 drivers now will focus their time and energy preparing for the penultimate weekend of the 2014 season. The next stop will be a tripleheader on the famous Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio on the August 1-3 weekend.
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.