Third-generation racer Matthew Brabham produced an impressive performance to score a clear victory at the Allied Building Products Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Round 3 of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.
Brabham set the pace throughout practice with the Team Andretti Autosport entry but qualified only eighth after his gear shift lever broke off in his hand midway through the 30-minute qualifying session.
Undeterred, Brabham was on the move almost as soon as the green flag waved. He leapt to sixth at the start, only for his progress to be delayed almost immediately by a full-course caution.
The 19-year-old pounced again at the restart, passing Team Pelfrey teammates Spencer Pigot and Petri Suvanto as well as local driver Nick Andries (JDC MotorSports) on consecutive laps to move into third by Lap 6.
Brabham then tracked down the two leaders, Diego Ferreira (Juncos Racing) and his own Andretti Autosport teammate Shelby Blackstock, who had qualified on the pole.
The Gold Coast racer overtook Blackstock cleanly under braking for Turn One on Lap 10, then repeated the manoeuvre on Ferreira to take the lead two laps later.
Brabham continued to turn a series of consistently fast laps to take a dominant victory, finishing almost 10 seconds clear of Ferreira, who just held onto the second position ahead of Blackstock.
“It was a fantastic race for me,” said Brabham.
“It was a bit hairy going into the first corner. I had to dodge a few cars as they were all piling up on each other, but I was able to get through.
“I knew I had a fast car but it is tough to tell where you are at but after the first couple of laps, I was moving up through the field and knew it was good. It was a great race and everyone drove very well. I’m speechless. It was just such a great race.”
The second leg of the Allied Building Products Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will take place tomorrow immediately following the first IZOD IndyCar Series race of the season.