Monaco Increase Management Lirim Zendeli celebrated his third podium finish after joining USF Pro 2000 series with TJ Speed Motorsport this year as he took third place in a dramatic four-lap dash in the Streets of Toronto’s first race. The Albanian-German driver had already scored a second place finish at Sebring and scored his series maiden victory at Road America last June. This result, though, really highlights the 23-years-old driving skills as it came on a wet track where many of the series top drivers were caught out by conditions and slipped out of the race.
The 25-lap event on the 1.786 (2.873 Km) Canadian street course was actually split into two parts: for the first fifteen laps, Zendeli trailed team-mate Francesco Pizzi in P7, his qualifying position. On a dry tarmac, it was apparent that gaining any track advantage would prove difficult on such a layout. Yet, on lap 15, a couple of cars simply seemed to be missing Turn 5 altogether and ran into the barriers, prompting intervention by the pace-car. Drivers duly followed the yellow-lighted vehicle while the first droplets of rain appeared on the course. Eventually, the race was red-flagged in order for all cars to change to wet tires and align at the exit of the pit-lane. This transformed the long race into a four-lap dash in which every driver had to dive it all while doing his best to stay on track and race leader Myles Rowe paid the price as he went straight shortly after the re-start. Meanwhile, Zendeli was working his way from P7 to third and he kept the position through the chequered flag.
Yet Zendeli feels he could have hoped for even more: “It was a shame as I lost 2 places because of Kiko Porto ahead of me who did not react promptly, otherwise I could have started from P5 in the rain and gone for a win! Also, we did not have a pace as good in Qualifying as we lacked some confidence by having too many red flag interruptions in practice and too little track mileage. But our pace in the race was awesome!”. The second and last round on the 11-turn Ontario circuit is scheduled for Sunday morning at 1105 local time, with Zendeli going to start from P6 on the grid.