This weekend marks the return of Formula 1600 racing to the streets of Toronto.
28 competitors from all over North America will take part in one of Toronto’s favourite summer events on the grounds of Exhibition Place, rounds 5 and 6 in the Super Series and rounds 7 and 8 in the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship.
To date, Eureka MO’s Tristan DeGrand has had it all his way in both the Quebec based Formula Tour, where he has won 5 of 6 events and on the Toyo Tires circuit where he is unbeaten in 6 races.
DeGrand has been challenged at times. In the first two rounds of the Super Series Chase Pelletier and Zacharie Robichon both showed good speed but DeGrand seemed to have the measure of everyone by the halfway point of the race. In the Montreal rounds of the Super Series he waged an epic battle with Olivier Bedard, the young Quebecer, but his car faded late in the race with a wheel bearing issue.
DeGrand is joined by his Exclusive Autosport teammates Max Hanratty, Jayson Clunie and Jeffrey Kingsley. Hanratty has been collecting podium finishes all season and looks ready to take the next step. Clunie is fresh off a pair of Masters class podium finishes on Quebec and Kingsley, although a rookie and just 16 years old sits 3rd in the points and gets faster with each week.
In a surprise, last minute decision the Toyo Series reigning Champion, Jack Mitchell, Jr., makes his return to competition north of the border. Mitchell has been concentrating on the F1600 Championship in the US but could not resist the challenge of trying to unseat his young countryman in front of a large and enthusiastic Indycar crowd.
Chase Pelletier, 2nd in points, is coming to grips with his new Britain West run Mygale and was bullet fast in his last outing. He has been very aggressive this season and should be a factor. He is joined by teammates Yves Beaudoin, Formula Tour Series owner Marcel Lafontaine and Brian Fowler.
Olivier Bedard, usually in a Spectrum when racing in Quebec, couldn’t resist the chance to race in front of the Indycar fans and has done a deal to race one of the Britain West Van Diemen Hondas for this event.
Brian Graham Racing / Team Grote have brought the ever improving Bruno Chapinotti to this race with renewed confidence after a solid podium finish in his last Toyo Series race.
Zacharie Robichon, also with BGR Team Grote, returns to the series but not in his recognizable orange Piper. This time out the speedy youngster, who just missed out on winning the championship last year, will be behind the wheel of a Van Diemen Honda. Veteran owner Brian Graham has a lot or experience winning races and championships with the trusty Van Diemen so Zach will most certainly be in the hunt from the drop of the green flag.
Craig Willis has had some great runs and podium finishes this season so great things are expected of him, along with Caitlin Johnston who has surprised no one with her pace this year. She had a pole position in the last event.
The AVR Motorsport duo of Reid Arnold and Andre du Preez, Jr., have been impressive in their rookie seasons so it will be interesting to see how they adapt to the fast street circuit.
Two drivers to keep an eye on will be Sam Chastain and Brandon Newey, two ultra fast young Americans with IndyCar heritage in their blood and leading their team. This pair, along with Canadian Steve Bamford will be the wild cards this weekend. They are no stranger to victory lane in the U.S. but will have to adapt to the Toyo tire that is run here in Canada.
The B Class will also be a hotly contested affair. Connor Wagland has a comfortable lead in the Toyo Series B points but Steve Bodrug will be making his first start of the season. He and Wagland had some monumental battles last season. They will be joined by the consistent Amy Castell, Mike Lee and David Graham who gets faster every time out after a long hiatus from the sport.
Things get rolling early Friday with a practice and then late in the day the competitors will qualify. Saturday will be race 1, with the final race of the weekend immediately following the Indycar event.
The Race: This is round 5 and 6 in the Super Series Championship, rounds 7 and 8 of the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship.
The Format: Both A and B Class cars race together, with an equalization package for the Honda and Ford motors.
Gaining Momentum: With a renewed enthusiasm and new marketing partners the Series is enjoying a large increase in grid size and exposure. There are several competitors returning to the series and over the next few rounds several new competitors will make their series’ debut.
The Toyo Tires F1600 Championship Series is the premiere open wheel series in Ontario, sanctioned by CASC Ontario Region and proudly supported by Toyo Tires, Honda HPD, Lubrico Warranty, Cove Dentistry, Stäubli, Lincoln Electric, Braille Battery, Johnston Research and Performance, Heather’s Heros, MK Technologies and Rod Ends Mechanical. The series is comprised of a six event, double-header format and competes at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, the Honda Indy Toronto and Calabogie Motorsport Park.
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