New York, NY – While the F2000 Championship Series has become a home for aspiring drivers looking towards the top tiers of open wheel racing, it has also become one of the most competitive playing fields in the country for veteran drivers. For 2010, Masters Class drivers have flocked to the series to race against one another and some of the best up-and-coming talent in a field of more than 30 open-wheel cars representing multiple chassis and engine combinations.
Tom Fatur, driving the Martel Electronics Van Diemen/Zetec for GTP Motorsports returns to VIR on the heels of his 2009 Masters Class title. Fatur’s #70 underwent a complete rebuild over the winter and has the latest Radon aero update kit.
“The focus this year will be on doing well. Last year we had a shot at top three overall finishes at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen, but several mistakes prevented me from achieving those,” said Fatur.
Fatur admitted he is the not the favorite for the 2010 Masters Class Championship: “Clearly the favorite this year has to be Tim Minor. He always runs strong, has a well developed car, and with Eric (Langbein) he has great engineering. That combination will be hard to beat. I’m also expecting a strong showing from Keith McCrone and Peter Gonzalez. Beyond the competitors I mentioned there are always guys like Mark Defer and Dave Weitzenhof who are a threat for a class win when they show up at select races.”
Tim Minor, the 2008 Masters Class Champion, is back for a year-long campaign with Ski Motorsports in 2010 after taking a dominating overall victory at Summit Point last season.
Minor commented: “The overall goal this year is to win the Masters Championship, but I’m not counting out the overall championship either. We ran three races last year and were consistently in the top five everywhere we went. There will be some tough competition this year too.”
As far as the Series’ 14-race seven weekend schedule, Minor said that he was “really looking forward to going back to Mosport, it’s like Watkins Glen on steroids.”
Add Phil Lombardi to the list of Masters Class drivers who are playing for both the Masters Class Championship and the 2010 F2000 Championship Series title. Lombardi returns for a full-season ride after a victory at Watkins Glen in 2009.
“The plan is to win the championship,” said Lombardi, who drives the #3 Van Diemen under the GTP Motorsports awning. “I’m fully prepared mentally and physically. It’s hard to say who the competition is going to be. There are quite a few strong drivers and any one of them can win. It’s definitely going to be a super competitive year. I think the guy that is best prepared and has the best luck will probably be hard to beat.”
Meanwhile, Keith McCrone, driving a full season for R-Sport after a partial campaign in 2009, is seen as a threat by the paddock for the Masters Championship as well.
Rob Nicholas, in the #89 K-FAST Van Diemen, showed speed at the final two races in 2009 and said that his goal was “the same as every year; to win a race. The series is so competitive that just to win one single race would make the year.”
Nicholas joined some of his fellow F2000 competitors, adding that: “I think with Tim Minor’s strong showing last year, he will be the one to keep an eye on.”
Another veteran who could become a huge spoiler is seven-time SCCA National Champion Dave Weitzenhof, who will drive the #67 Citation/Zetec.
Paul Farmer will fly the Mygale flag, as he brings the only Mygale chassis to the grid for GTP.
A late addition to the VIR grid will be series socialite Charles Finelli in the #83, alongside Len Amato in the #33. Both entries are Van Diemen/Zetecs.
Peter Gonzalez will start the year at VIR in a Van Diemen for GTP Motorsports, but he is expected to switch to the new Radon chassis for Road Atlanta. Joining him for the Radon switch will be series veteran Robert Wright, who returns to ADSA/Wright Racing alongside fellow Masters Class competitor Al Guibord, Sr.
Ironman Crag Clawson will contest his fifth F2000 season, making him and Wright the only two drivers to start every F2000 Championship Series event to date.
There are more: Mark Defer returns with St. Clair Motorsports and will mix in for Masters Class victories, and Jeff McCusker is back with Company Motorsports.
Brent Gilkes is on the entry list for Lap 2 Racing as well. Gilkes will trek from his home in Barbados to VIR for the opening rounds of the 2010 season.
“The season looks awesome,” commented Gilkes. “I just the saw the entry list and it is a great balance of experienced drivers, some young lads who had their rookie year in 2009 and some new guys who appear to already have good racing resumes. It is the large grid size and the separate Masters Class Championship that inspires me to come back each year.”
The 14-race, seven-weekend 2010 F2000 Championship Series gets going on April 9 at VIR, followed by Road Atlanta in May and Mosport in June. Then it’s Watkins Glen with IndyCar, and Lime Rock with ALMS in July, before Road America in August, and the season finale at Mid-Ohio over Labor Day. The F2000 Series posted the highest average car count on the open wheel development landscape in 2008 and 2009 with an average of 30 entries per race.