The Americans came out to play as the Star Mazda Championship headed north of the border into Canada, Louisiana’s Alex Ardoin overtaking Texan Rusty Mitchell on a last-lap restart to win the Grand Prix of Trois Rivieres on a day in which the Brits and Irish faltered.
Ireland’s Peter Dempsey, winner of last year’s race, was supposed to line up on the front row beside pole-sitter Mitchell but was made to start from the pitlane after failing to get on the grid in time.
That opened the way for Adam Christodoulou to close the gap on Dempsey in the championship hunt, but the Englishman was not able to take full advantage of his second-row qualifying position and finished only fifth, behind Californian Joel Miller and 16-year-old local star Mikael Grenier, who had qualified 19th.
Dempsey fought back to ninth place before pitting with a loose nose cone, only to be sent out on track with no nose at all as his team attempted to avoid his being lapped. He eventually finished a disappointed 13th, but retains a 10-point championship lead.
Richard Kent’s race was brief, as the Andersen Racing driver from near Milton Keynes did not complete a lap before retiring.
Following his pole, Mitchell had said his plan would be to “get a good start, pull out a gap and try to run away with it”. Had it not been for a late full-course caution, the plan might have worked.
Winner Ardoin said: “We had a really good car in the race, but Rusty was driving extremely well and I had to hope for some re-starts to give me a chance to get by. I got my wish in the last few laps when there was a full-course yellow and when they re-started we were all bunched up tight and had to get it done in one lap before the chequered came out.”
Three races remain in the championship: Mosport on August 29th, Road Atlanta on September 25th and Laguna Seca on October 10th.