TORONTO, July 9 — Fresh from his podium finish on Sunday in the IMSA Prototype Challenge race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) in Bowmanville, Ontario, Pittsburgh’s Kris Wright will immediately switch from sports cars to formula cars and compete in the Pro Mazda doubleheader at the prestigious Honda Indy Toronto in downtown Toronto this coming weekend.
Wright, who will turn 24 on July 17, is the current point leader in the IMSA Prototype Challenge series, but he’s also competing in selected events as a rookie in the Pro Mazda series presented by Cooper Tires. He and co-driver Yann Clairay finished second on CTMP’s flowing, 2.459-mile, 10-turn road course on Sunday. Pro Mazda races are shorter, so this coming weekend he’ll have no co-driver as he tackles the tight, 1.796-mile, 11-turn Exhibition Place street circuit in Toronto in the Pro Mazda doubleheader that supports the Verizon IndyCar series headliner. His first race is Saturday at 10:50 a.m. and the second one is Sunday at 10:40 a.m., just a few hours before the start of the Honda Indy Toronto IndyCar race at 3:35 p.m. Eastern time.
Toronto’s street circuit is constructed throughout and around the Exhibition Place grounds and utilizes Lake Shore Boulevard as the backstretch. There has been racing on the Toronto street course since 1986, and the Honda Indy Toronto event is marking its 32nd anniversary this year.
The Honda Indy Toronto is one of Canada’s major summer events, with three-day attendance figures routinely estimated at around 170,000 people. It is IndyCar’s second-longest-running street race, only behind the Grand Prix of Long Beach. The event includes a festival and many corporate and charitable functions.
Wright’s Pro Mazda car is the No. 78 fielded by BN Racing and sponsored by Master Tech and PPG. He last competed it in at two races at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis in May on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he came in sixth and tenth.
On Sunday at CTMP he competed in the top class of the IMSA Prototype Challenge series Presented by Mazda, Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3). He shared the Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P3 No. 30 with Clairay, of Laval, France, for the one-hour, 45-minute race.
Wright qualified third, just 0.174 off the pole. He jumped into second place on the first lap of the race, and remained there until he pitted on lap 30, right before a full-course caution waved. Clairay was able to retake second on lap 41, and remained there until the finish. Clairay was 10.027 seconds ahead of third place at the checkered flag.
“Our car was pushing at the beginning of the race today, so I couldn’t pass the leader,” Wright said Sunday afternoon after the Prototype Challenge race. “When we pitted we made an adjustment to the car and it helped my co-driver go faster. ESM [his team] did a really good job; our pit stop was perfect. Our goal this weekend was to finish on the podium, and we accomplished that and gained points over second in the championship.”
Wright said his goal for this coming weekend’s two Pro Mazda races is simply to learn as much as possible. “I’ve never been to Toronto and I’m a rookie in Pro Mazda, so it’s going to be a learning experience, but I’m looking forward to it!” he said.
The Prototype Challenge race at CTMP will air on FOX Sports 2 from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, July 26.
Wright and Clairay won the IMSA Prototype Challenge race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., in April. Wright finished third with another co-driver, Michael Whelden, at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla., in March.
Last July Wright also drove in two Prototype Challenge races at CTMP as a rookie in the MPC class. Those races were shorter, and each car had just one driver. He finished tenth in both of those races enroute to second in the championship for 2017.
Canadian fans might also remember him from the Prototype Challenge races at the GP3R Grand Prix of Trois Rivieres in Quebec last August, where he finished second in the MPC class in both halves of that doubleheader.
More information is available on Wright's Web site at KrisWrightMotorsports.com. Fans can also follow him on Facebook and Instagram. Prototype Challenge information is available at imsa.com. Information on the Pro Mazda series, one of the steps on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system, can be found at promazda.com.