In a car he doesn’t have much experience, at a race that wasn’t on his schedule until two weeks ago, Red Deer’s Parker Thompson turned a weekend in Montreal into a winning one.
The 19-year-old picked up two victories at the F1600 Championships Canadian Grand Prix event in Montreal. The races were a part of the Canadian Grand Prix.
“Believe it or not, this was my first time seeing formula one cars,” he said. “I felt like a kid in a candy shop from Thursday on.”
Having no practice time, Thompson went straight into qualifying in his Exclusive Autosport vehicle on June 9 and ended up in second place for the first of two races over the weekend.
In the first race on Saturday, Thompson took first place after the first turn and never gave it up. He noted during the race that drafting strategy was going to be key to his win. He said using a good drafting technique in the F1600 cars can make the car go as much as 1.5 seconds faster. Drafting relies on a car in front to break the wind and cars behind it to exploit it to accelerate.
“I had a good six to seven second advantage at one point, but a caution flag came out,” he said. “So all the cars bunched up and my advantage was gone.”
The drafting was especially important at Circuit Gille-Villeneuve’s long straightaway section.
Thompson maintained his lead through the caution and after it was lifted. However, the final laps also ended under caution meaning Thompson could not be passed and secured his win with a nine lap time of 21:09.915, 0.411 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor.
“F1 qualifying was right before our race so there were 100,000 fans watching that,” he said. “Most stayed to watch our race and the energy was nothing like I’ve ever seen before.”
For the second race, Sunday morning, qualifying was based off of each driver’s best lap in the first race. Thompson again would start from the second position.
By the first and second turns he had moved into first place and he held that lead for the remainder of the race. Nearing the end, there was a crash and the caution flag was out again. This time the caution was lifted with one lap to go.
“It was a one lap shootout for the win,” he said. “A teammate of mine drafted behind me and pulled up along side heading towards the finish line. I think I beat him by about three inches.”
Thompson finished with a 10 lap time of 23:45.578, just one-thousandth of a second ahead of second place.
Thompson will now go back to his regular racing circuit, the USF2000 part of the Mazda Road to Indy. He is currently in fourth place in his second year on the tour. His next race is scheduled for June 22 to 24 at Elkhart Lake in Wisconsin.
He credited Alberta companies and sponsors Triquest of Calgary, Badlands Motorsport of Drumheller and Open Highway of Red Deer with allowing him to get to the race on such a short timeline.