Thompson Takes Sixth in USF2000 Debut with JDC
 April 2, 2015| 
  • Team News

Canadian pilot climbs steep learning on first rung of Mazda Road to Indy

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – When a rookie driver first takes to the racing surface on a temporary street circuit, the learning curve is as steep as it can be. Canadian Parker Thompson is a rookie for JDC MotorSports in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and he turned his first laps at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg this past weekend, improving in leaps and bounds from Friday to Sunday.  The opening turn at this venue has ended the expectations of many drivers, and it caught the 17-year-old in Saturday’s race, providing him a valuable lesson. But as a veteran of many top-level karting events during his formative years, the Red Deer, Alberta resident showed his maturity and poise as he rebounded in Race 2 on Sunday and turned in a superb performance in taking sixth place in the ultra-competitive series.

The USF2000 drivers were on-track on Friday morning bright and early at 8:00 am for the opening session of the weekend, and after light evening rains, the track was damp and dirty.  Parker was focused on completing the session with zero issues, using the time to familiarize himself with the visual cues of the track. The session went green to checker and he would sit 11th on the time sheet after this initial shakedown.  The track surface was dry and had actual rubber down for the second Friday practice, and despite the fact that forecasted rain was on its way, the USF2000 session was dry and fast.  While the frontrunners went just over two seconds faster in the improved conditions, Thompson picked up over four seconds and advanced to sixth in the order, which will be a common occurrence through the season.  It will likely take Parker a couple of sessions to get comfortable with any new track this year, and he’ll improve greatly as the weekends unfold. Parker ended up just six tenths off the series sophomores in this important session, signaling his ability to run in the lead pack from the get-go.

Rain arrived at the track on Friday afternoon, which washed away the rubber laid down by the other classes, including the Verizon IndyCar Series. JDC’s lone Canadian pilot found over a half-second during the Saturday morning qualifying run, and was running in sixth when he made a slight error late in the session as he tried to use all of the available track between St. Petersburg’s concrete walls.  Minor contact with the wall on the exit of Turn 4 damaged his left rear suspension, leaving him stranded out on the track, which brought out the full course caution and ended the session. Subsequently, Parker was penalized for causing the yellow and lost his fastest lap, which dropped him to ninth in the order put him on the inside of row five for the start of Race 1.

In the opening race of the weekend, Parker got a monster start and was able to advance numerous positions heading into turn one, but slight contact with Nico Jamin started a chain reaction that left him on backwards and hooked up with Aussie Jordan Lloyd.  With the track blocked, fellow Aussie Luke Gabin had nowhere to go and climbed over Thompson, ending his day abruptly.  The team would go to work overnight to get Parker’s JDC USF2000 car back into race shape so that he could tackle Race 2 in an effort to redeem himself.

The second race of the doubleheader was certainly one of redemption for the young Canadian, as he got a great start from seventh and quickly jumped to sixth behind former St. Pete winner Victor Franzoni.  The Brazilian would slow on the opening lap with a mechanical issue, which held up Parker, and he lost one position in the process.  From there, Thompson settled into a great battle with Garth Rickards, up until the two pilots fought side-by-side for the apex in turn two.  Slight contact was made and Rickards came out on the losing end, and contact with the wall ended his day.  Series official reviewed the video and no action was taken, proving that it was a racing incident, and Parker would go on to record a stellar sixth place result.

There will not be much time to rest for the Canadian rookie as the JDC MotorSports trailer will head for NOLA Motorsports Park early next week for the second event on the Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda schedule.  The third and fourth races of the season will be run on the 2.74-mile, 13-turn road course, where the series has already run this year as part of the Cooper Tires Winterfest ‘spring training’ series.  Parker will be on-track on the morning of Friday, April 10 for the opening practice session has he takes aim on his first top-five finish.

JDC MOTORSPORTS – DRIVER INFORMATION:

Parker Thompson - #80

Qualified: 9th – 1:14.866 (+1.281 secs)

Race #1: DNF

Race #2: 6th

Driver Quote: “I couldn't be prouder of the JDC Motorsports crew this weekend. They showed their will to win and their resilience throughout the weekend. They are truly a fantastic operation and I look forward to the next event in New Orleans. This was a tough week for all of us, but we win as a team and we lose as a team. We know we have the pace as shown in Race 2. Now it's time to focus, train hard and keep in the title hunt for the championship over the next upcoming races."

About JDC Motorsports:

Involved in formula car racing since its inception in 1994, JDC Motorsports has established itself as one of the leading junior open-wheel teams in North America. Initially making its mark in the F2000 class of club racing competition, JDC Motorsports was soon a team worth watching in the pro ranks. Competing in the Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship, the team not only won races, but also helped develop multiple young drivers. In 2005, JDC Motorsports expanded its efforts, entering the Star Mazda Championship. Quickly becoming one of the top teams in the series, JDC captured both the driver and team titles in 2007, as well as Rookie of the Year honors, with Dane Cameron scoring a series-high three wins. In 2008, JDC Motorsports was the runner-up in the Star Mazda Championship and finished fourth in its inaugural season of F2000 Championship Series competition. The Minnesota-based team won the Star Mazda Championship title with Rookie of the Year Adam Christodoulou, and the F2000 Championship Series title with Chris Miller in 2009. The following year, JDC continued its winning ways, earning the Rookie of the Year award in the Star Mazda Championship with Connor De Philippi, and scoring a non-points win in the USF2000 National Championship. In 2011, the Minneapolis-based squad captured its third Star Mazda Championship title with Tristan Vautier, scored a win in the USF2000 National Championship, and made its Prototype Lites Championship debut, earning five podium finishes. JDC Motorsports added to its Star Mazda Championship win tally, USF2000 Championship podium total, and finished as the Prototype Lites Championship runner-up in 2012. Last year, the squad continued its run of Pro Mazda and USF2000 podium finishes, and was third in the Prototype Lites title fight.

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