Title contenders’ first-lap clash hands win to Dapero

Nicolas Dapero scored his first Pro Mazda victory, after Team Pelfrey teammates Pato O’Ward and Aaron Telitz collided exiting Turn 2, damaging the former’s car and resulting in a drive-through penalty for the latter.

Title contenders’ first-lap clash hands win to Dapero
Will Owen, Juncos Racing
Aaron Telitz, Team Pelfrey
Aaron Telitz, Team Pelfrey
Nico Jamin, Cape Motorsports
Nicolas Dapero, Juncos Racing

As per yesterday, the grid lineup saw Telitz on pole, O’Ward alongside, but unlike yesterday’s start, Telitz initially got the jump on his teammate. However, O’Ward drew alongside him around the outside of Turn 2 and as they exited the turn, Telitz made hard contact with O’Ward’s left rear wheel, tossing the #80 car up in the air and through the sandtrap.

O’Ward continued having completed a perfect 360deg spin, but had to limp to the pits with damaged rear suspension. Four laps later, the call came from Race Control that Telitz had to serve a drive-through penalty. He would resume in 11th. O’Ward also continued but being three laps down, he was lodged firmly in 12th and last.

This drama left Juncos Racing's Dapero with a commanding lead, as he again appeared to be the only driver with the pace to trouble the Pelfrey cars. However, his lead was eradicated on Lap 9 when one of his teammates, Jake Parsons, passed the third Pelfrey car of TJ Fischer into the left-hand start of the Corkscrew, and then pinched Fischer too tight through the righthander. The Pelfrey car understeered into the Juncos car and the pair were eliminated, bringing out the full-course caution.

That left Dapero leading another of his teamamtes, Will Owen, with Cape Motorsports’ Nico Jamin in third and series debutant Joseph Burton-Harris in fourth. The National Class car of Moises de la Vara in fifth now had Telitz filling his mirrors, although the championship leader dispensed with him on the run up to Turn 6 following the restart.

Those final three laps following the restart saw Dapero initially sprint away from Owen, but then took it just a little too easy – and then threatened to outbrake himself at the final turn.

But the Argentine kept his head and drove to the checkers 0.44sec ahead to score his first Pro Mazda victory and to become only the second driver to crack the Pelfrey domination of the season. The other driver to have achieved that feat, Jamin, finished third, while Burton-Harris held off Telitz by just under half a second to clinch fourth.

The Fischer/Parsons clash promoted O’Ward to 10th overall and sixth in class, and so the title race is still alive. However, he is now 11 points behind Telitz in the championship and with a mountain to climb in the third and final race. Should O'Ward win, Telitz still only needs to beat two Class 1 cars to clinch the title.

But with bad blood having now surfaced, who knows what might happen?

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