The quest for a Firestone Indy Lights title resumed in fine fashion for Gabby Chaves on Saturday (July 13), with another trip to the podium in Round Eight on the streets of Toronto, Ont. Further highlighting his skills behind the wheel, the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports standout not only briefly challenged for the win in the series return to street racing, but overcame a gearbox issue to earn a third place finish and his third consecutive visit to the post-race celebrations. Chaves, having now finished among the top-three in six of the eight races contested, is third in the championship fight entering the upcoming August race in Ohio.
While Chaves has enjoyed good success in the recent Indy Lights run of oval races, standing on the podium in three of the four races, the 19 year-old was excited to get back to turning both left and right on the streets of Toronto.
With an eye on qualifying and the 50-lap race, Chaves spent the two opening practice sessions around the 1.755-mile streets circuit within the Canadian National Exhibition Grounds working on the setup of his No. 7 Coldeportes / Marca Colombia / RedServi / Tecpro entry. The plan ultimately paid good dividends, as Chaves posted the third best lap in qualifying, earning an inside row two starting position for the Saturday afternoon race.
When the green flag waved to get the action underway for the lone stop ‘North of the Border’ in bright sunshine, Chaves got a great launch, slotting into second place. The ‘Take 5 To Stay Alive. Don’t Text & Drive’ spokesperson and Safety Ambassador of the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety and Sustainability promptly pushed on cold tires attacking the race leader for the top spot. Unable to execute a move position in the early stages, Chaves settled into a fast, but comfortable pace in effort to save his car and tires for a late race charge. While he subsequently came under pressure from the third place driver, the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports racer was poised to take home a well deserved runner-up finish when he suddenly lost second gear. Not surprisingly, the mechanical issue severely hampered Chaves overall pace. Chaves, despite the setback, retained the P2 position for multiple laps, before ultimately relinquishing the place. Remaining focused on running mistake-free over the course of the final few tours, Chaves in the end crossed the line in third place, extending his streak of podium finishes to three.
Chaves now has brief break before returning to the cockpit of his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports racer on August 3-4, when Round Nine of the Firestone Indy Lights title fight takes place at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The highly-regarded race pilot travels to the technical Ohio road course sitting third in the championship standings.