Belardi's Baron Scores Breakthrough Win in Toronto
 July 22, 2014| 
  • Team News
Rookie driver dominates weekend on Canadian streets to extend team win-streak to three

TORONTO, ONT. – It had been two months since Belardi Auto Racing’s Alex Baron last competed in an Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires event, having skipped the Fourth of July weekend event at Pocono Raceway, but the young French pilot showed no ill-effects of his absence as he powered away from the pole position on the streets of Toronto to score his first series victory by a 1.235-second margin. It was an emotional triumph for the driver and his Belardi race engineers and mechanics, as they have worked diligently to bring the 19-year-old up a steep learning curve as a series rookie. The victory was also Belardi’s third straight in Indy Lights competition, continuing the shift in momentum that was fueled by Gabby’s Chaves’ huge win in the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway back in May. Chaves also performed flawlessly in Toronto, finishing in the runner-up position to extend his championship point lead to 21 markers heading to the next race at Mid-Ohio.

Baron was immediately quick upon returning to the seat of his #4 Belardi Auto Racing entry, placing third in the opening practice session on Friday afternoon. From there on, he would move to the top of the charts in the Saturday morning practice with a last lap flyer that put him just 0.09 seconds head of Matthew Brabham. Baron would not relinquish the top spot for the remainder of the weekend. Alex was on the throttle in the timed qualifying session, turning a 1:06.018 to gap the field by almost three tenths of the second. In the hours that preceded the qualifying run, the Toronto Indy venue was hit with a steady light rain that drenched the circuit, and the new pavement of the track’s long Lakeshore Boulevard backstraight did not provide adequate drainage to allow for a safe IndyCar event, which mandated that IndyCar officials postpone the remainder of Saturday’s races. This resulted in a packed schedule of shortened events for Sunday, turning the Indy Lights race into a 40-minute timed event. At the green flag, Baron jumped out to a solid lead and he would not be challenged en route to his first series victory.

“I couldn't have asked for a better weekend, for me and the team,” Baron enthused, enjoying the thrill of victory with his Belardi teammates. “We had a really good car overall, one that allowed us to finish with an excellent result. I am extremely happy to win at Toronto and very happy for the team's points.”

Chaves began his weekend by maintaining the momentum he developed through Indy and Pocono, topping the opening practice on Friday afternoon. Additional speed was found in the second session, although he dropped to fourth as other teams bolted on new tires late in the run. In the Saturday afternoon qualifying session, Chaves was strong early and paced the session until a halfshaft failure left him stranded on the long Toronto backstraight. Despite the fact that this brought out the red flag and the resulting penalty eliminated Gabby’s fastest lap, the arrival of rain during the session ensured that his second quick lap would keep him in second for an all-Belardi front row. In the Sunday race, the teams were forced to quickly change from wet to dry tires before the start, as the track was drying rapidly. With the set-up on the car being less than ideal for the conditions, Chaves was quick out of the gate to assume the second position behind his teammate, a spot he would hold through to the checkered flag. It was Gabby’s sixth podium in nine races, and further extends his point lead over Zach Veach.

“It was a solid weekend, for sure,” Chaves offered. “We had great potential for pole and unfortunately due to a mechanical failure halfway through the session, we didn't get the chance to challenge for it. The Belardi guys did an amazing job with our cars and we were able to have a clean race to finish 1-2 and extend our points lead in the championship, which is our main objective."

The team will now turn its focus on the next rounds of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series, which will take place at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio on August 1-3.  The event is a doubleheader, with races on both Saturday and Sunday.

About Belardi Auto Racing:
Belardi Auto Racing is an organization comprised of experienced individuals in the racing industry with an aggressive growth strategy and a strong commitment to finishing up front. No stranger to winning, team members having been achieving success in both the amateur and pro ranks for over a decade, winning numerous junior formula car races and championships. Based in Brownsburg, Ind., Belardi Auto Racing contests multi-car efforts in both the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda series. Goal-oriented and focused on developing the next stars of motorsports, Belardi Auto Racing won in both the Indy Lights and USF2000 Championships in 2013.
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