Canadian Parker Thompson has eked out a commanding lead in his quest for this year’s Pro Mazda Championship… and a Mazda Scholarship worth close to $800,000 to assist in graduation to Indy Lights in 2019.
Thompson, who finished second in the 2016 USF2000 title-chase and third in 2017, has been on a roll since stepping up to Pro Mazda this season with Canadian-based Exclusive Autosport. He has finished among the top five in each of the seven races, including successive wins on the Indianapolis GP road course and Lucas Oil Raceway oval.
“The entire Exclusive Autosport crew and myself are feeling very confident headed into the summer swing that kicks off in Road America,” said Thompson, from Red Deer, Alb. “We know we’ll have some stiff competition come race time with lots of teams doing their homework after Indianapolis, but that doesn’t change our approach. We need to win as many races as we can. Our philosophy is that the best defense is offense, and we’re ready to do what it takes to fight for more wins in Wisconsin.”
Thompson’s admirable display of pace and consistency has taken him 40 points clear of his nearest challenger, Brazilian Carlos Cunha, who lies just one point ahead of Juncos Racing teammate Rinus VeeKay, from Hoofddorp, Netherlands. The 17-year-old Dutch prodigy already has an enviable record at Road America after winning both USF2000 races in 2017 with Pabst Racing on his way to second in the championship.
Other rivals will include a third Juncos Racing entry for young New Yorker Robert Megennis, who finished third in the most recent race at Lucas Oil Raceway; reigning USF2000 champion Oliver Askew (Cape Motorsports), from Jupiter, Fla., who already has three poles to his credit; Sting Ray Robb (Team Pelfrey), who last year claimed a best finish of fourth at Road America; and Chicago’s David Malukas (BN Racing), who proved the effectiveness of the new Tatuus-Mazda PM-18 by circulating more than 3.5 seconds unofficially inside the existing Pro Mazda track record during last week’s Open Test.
“It’s one of my favorite tracks even though I only raced here last year in USF2000,” said Malukas, who qualified on pole for one of the USF2000 races. “My dad raced here when I was a kid; I came here a lot and have a lot of good memories. Being at Road America is really what got me into racing.”
A pair of talented Englishmen, Toby Sowery, aboard a second BN Racing Tatuus, and RP Motorsport Racing’s Harrison Scott, also are expected to shine. Sowery, who showed well last year at Barber Motorsports Park during a one-off USF2000 outing, will be making his Pro Mazda debut following an impressive test last week, while Scott, runaway winner of last year’s Euroformula Open Championship, already has two wins to his name this season.
Raul Guzman, from Guadalajara, Mexico, who finished third in the 2016 Italian F4 Championship, also is set to make his debut in a second RP Motorsport Racing entry.
Another one to watch will be rookie Andres Gutierrez out of the Team Pelfrey camp. The Monterrey, Mexico native was fourth-quickest overall following last week’s test.
The closely matched field will kick off the long weekend on Thursday, June 21, with a 30-minute practice session at 1:15 p.m., followed by qualifying for Race One at 4:40 p.m. and then qualifying for Race Two at 8:40 a.m. on Friday. The pair of 40-minute races which will comprise the Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Road America Presented by Cooper Tires will start at 2:20 p.m. on Friday and 2:05 p.m. on Saturday. All times are CDT.
Content and image provided courtesy of the Mazda Road to Indy.