Cape Motorsports returned to the Pro Mazda Presented by Cooper Tires podium this past weekend, as reigning USF2000 title winner Oliver Askew was back to his 2017 championship form on the streets of Toronto. The team was truly on their game from start to finish, as they also scored both USF2000 race wins with Kyle Kirkwood.
At the completion of the Pro Mazda doubleheader on the complex 1.786-mile, 11-turn street circuit, the team walked away with four top-five finishes to complement Kirkwood’s hardware, Askew was fourth in the opening race and the stormed back on Sunday to finish on the podium in second, his best result since Indianapolis in May.
After battling some issues at the start of the weekend, Nikita Lastochkin bounced back and gained two impressive top-five finishes, taking fifth in Race 1 and fourth in Race 2, both counting as his finest results of the season.
“For Toronto, as a group, we came up with a different strategy for the weekend,” confirmed Dominic and Nicholas Cape. “Everyone was on board, and both Nikita and Oliver did a fantastic job, as did the boys. We got the results they deserved, and we’re all looking forward to Mid-Ohio, a place we’ve had great success in the past.”
In the 20-minute qualifying session for Race 1, Askew was eighth on the timesheet as the team worked to dial in their set-up for the challenging multi-surface circuit. This pace put the American on the outside of row eight for the start of the opening race. Disappointingly, Lastochkin was unable to make the qualifying session due to a freak part failure in the morning practice session, which sent him into the wall in turn 11.
Heading into Qualifying 2, the Cape Motorsports crew had repaired the damage to Lastochkin’s car and Nikita did well despite the loss of track time, timing in ninth. Askew maintained his pace from the first qualifying session, but with others around him losing time, his run was good enough for the sixth-place starting position.
Race 1 began with one of the craziest starts of the season. The 25-lap race went to a full course yellow before the end of the first lap when Harrison Scott made contact with Antonio Serravalle heading into the braking zone of turn three, sending him out of control and up and over Sting Ray Robb, landing upside down into the runoff area.
Thankfully, Scott was uninjured, although the shakeup of this incident left Askew running in fifth, due to Oliver taking evasive maneuvers not to get collected in the pile-up.
Lastochkin drove through the carnage as well and emerged in sixth. On the ensuing restart, David Malukas contacted Parker Thompson in turn one while battling for second, ending the race for both drivers and advancing Askew and Lastochkin to third and fourth. When the dust had settled from battles during the second half of the race, Oliver would card a strong fourth-place finish while Nikita posted his best result of the season in fifth.
In the second race, Askew was a man on a mission, slotting into fourth in the early going while Lastochkin was ninth. The caution flew on lap four for a turn 11 incident involving Raul Guzman, and after a long clean-up, Askew was ready to go to work on the restart.
Having lost fourth, Askew took it back quickly and then reeled in David Malukas and Robert Megennis, eventually overtaking them both to settle into second. A late-race caution gave Oliver one last shot at the leader, but he came up just short but was still pleased to finish second, setting the fast lap of the race in the process.
Lastochkin worked forward all race long and was running sixth, and was at the tail end of the battle for second when Carlos Cunha ran wide and into the tires in turn three at the same time as Malukas took the runoff with car damage. This moved Nikita to fourth in the final tally.
The trip north to Toronto was the team’s finest weekend of the year, moving Askew into fifth in the championship standings ahead of Harrison Scott. Lastochkin earned his best points haul of the year and closed to with 10 points of Megennis for seventh in the standings.
The team will now focus on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for this week’s official series test ahead of Rounds 12 and 13 of the Championship at the popular circuit on July 29-31.
Content and image courtesy of Cape Motorsports.