It was a trip to Toronto, Ontario for TJ Speed to battle it out in Rounds 12 and 13 of the USF Pro 2000 Presented by Cooper Tires program. Closing the weekend with a pair of podium results and four top-ten finishes, Lirim Zendeli led the way finishing third on Saturday and improved Sunday to cross the line in the second position.
“Great weekend for Lirim. He is really coming into his own here and will be a force as he moves up the ladder to INDYCAR,” explained TJ Speed’s Tim Neff. “This was his first time in Toronto, and he was on pace from the very first session.”
With one short practice session before qualifying one that set the grid for the first wheel-to-wheel action on Saturday, Zendeli led the way in the driver squad earning the seventh fastest lap while Francesco Pizzi clocked the eighth quickest time as Christian Weir was 12th. Returning to the track Saturday morning to set the grid for race two, Zendeli once again let the way scoring the sixth fastest lap ahead of Weir in P8 and Pizzi in tenth.
The first wheel-to-wheel action took place on Saturday afternoon as TJ Speed drivers all started the race on slick Cooper Tires before the race was halted in the latter stages as the rain began to fall. Like what happened earlier in the season on two different occasions, drivers were allotted five minutes to swap to wet weather tires. With the race restarting and less than seven minutes remaining, Zendeli took advantage to move his way forward to claim his first podium result of the weekend in third, while teammate Pizzi put a pair of TJ Speed drivers in the top-ten with a sixth-place result. Christian Weir soldiered on to score a P12 finish as he was able to complete the full race distance despite some aggressive driving by others.
Back to the track Sunday for their last on-track session of the weekend, it was Zendeli who impressed again in front of a huge Canadian crowd that was on site to take on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Zendeli pressured the eventual race winner early on in the affair but in the end, had to settle for the second step on the podium, an improvement from the day prior. Pizzi was consistent in his finishes adding his second sixth-place finish in as many days while Weir encountered trouble on the opening lap and failed to finish putting the rest of his USF Pro 2000 season in jeopardy.
Neff added, “We will now look forward to the Circuit of the Americas in August. We had a great test there in the preseason and feel this could be another track where we can really fight for the race win.”
Photo Credit: Gavin Baker Photography / RTD Media