2012 Champion La Rocca Leads Friday F2000 Practice

October 12, 2012
Robert La Rocca and Niki Coello were one-two in practice. (photo: Jose Rosado)

Watkins Glen, NY – Ahead of the F2000 Championship Series season finale at Watkins Glen International, 2012 Champion Robert La Rocca paced the final 35-car-strong Friday practice session on a frigid day in New York. La Rocca’s fast lap of 1:52.275 was turned just hours after sleet poured down on the 3.4-mile 11-turn road course. The Venezuelan was quickest ahead of Summit Point winner Niki Coello in a shortened final practice session prior to qualifying rounds and races on Saturday and Sunday.

With a single win this weekend, La Rocca can easily break the F2000 win record, making it ten on the season (in 14 races).

Coello was the fastest RFR in second, and hopes to wrangle the second place points position away from rookie Wyatt Gooden.

While it was La Rocca and Coello one-two against the backdrop of fall foliage, Kyle Connery followed in third after missing the morning session in the No. 91 RFR. Connery easily won both races at Watkins Glen in October last year, but in a different chassis, a Van Diemen.

Zach Craigo was fourth quick in the second session for Front Range Motorsports, with 2012 Atlantic Series Champion David Grant an impressive fifth in his F2000 debut for Ohio-based Polestar Racing Group.

Cesar Lapoint, La Rocca’s HP-Tech Motorsport teammate, was sixth, with Tim Paul, former Watkins Glen pole winner Chris Livengood, Kevin Kopp and Dean Baker rounding out the top ten in a session that ended early when Tom Schwietz went off the course.

Rookie Kopp’s ninth place practice run marked his first day running laps around Watkins Glen.

Back for the first time in F2000 since a one-off in 2010 is 2009 title-runner-up Matthew Inge, driving for LTD Motorsports in a Van Diemen. Inge finished second at Watkins Glen in 2009, winning multiple races during the season. After a top five effort in the morning practice session in the No. 20 entry, Inge’s fast lap in the afternoon was good enough for 15th.

Twenty-two-year-old Matt Machiko made his F2000 debut for John Walko Racing, putting in a respectable first practice day to end up 16th on the time sheets in the afternoon. Machiko comes out of karting with a handful of SCCA races under his belt.

Wyatt Gooden, meanwhile, battling flu-like symptoms, only ran a handful of laps, missing the first session, and ended up 21st for Quantum Racing Services. Despite the poor performance among the 35 cars that logged times, Gooden should factor in near the front of the F2000 grid, having won both F1600 Formula F Championship Series races in October for Quantum in 2011.

In 21st, Robert Wright was the fastest of the four Radon chassis on the track. R-Sport’s Metrik chassis did not run laps in the afternoon session, but is expected to qualify on Saturday with driver Keith McCrone.

The most talked about the factor of the day, however, was the weather, with temperatures starting in the 30s and never finding their way out of the 40s, with sleet and rain occasionally moving in during the day. For Saturday, more low temperatures are expected, but without the precipitation.

The F2000 season finale doubleheader weekend continues at Watkins Glen with qualifying on Saturday morning at 9:40 local time followed by a 2:10 14-lap or 30-minute race, with Sunday seeing a similar schedule. Updates and audio are available on www.F2000Series.com, in addition to live timing for the first time, available via the Race Monitor smart phone application.

Practice Results:
Pos No. Name Best Tm Best Spd In Lap Diff Gap 1 10 Robert LaRocca 1:52.275 108.056 4 - - 2 81 Niki Coello 1:53.648 106.751 6 +1.373 +1.373 3 91 Kyle Connery 1:53.752 106.653 2 +1.477 +0.104 4 18 Zach Craigo 1:54.790 105.689 6 +2.515 +1.038 5 8 David Grant 1:54.856 105.628 6 +2.581 +0.066 6 33 Cesar Lapoint 1:55.089 105.414 3 +2.814 +0.233 7 06 Tim Paul 1:55.213 105.301 3 +2.938 +0.124 8 37 Chris Livengood 1:55.363 105.164 4 +3.088 +0.150 9 66 Kevin Kopp 1:56.021 104.567 4 +3.746 +0.658 10 52 Dean Baker/M 1:56.290 104.325 5 +4.015 +0.269 11 51 Dan Denison/M 1:56.612 104.037 5 +4.337 +0.322 12 22 Gustavo Rizzo 1:57.197 103.518 5 +4.922 +0.585 13 73 Vaughn Horvath 1:57.417 103.324 3 +5.142 +0.220 14 19 John Brumder/M 1:57.499 103.252 5 +5.224 +0.082 15 20 Matthew Inge 1:57.555 103.203 3 +5.280 +0.056 16 3 Matt Machiko 1:57.623 103.143 5 +5.348 +0.068 17 64 Sergio Pasian 1:57.743 103.038 5 +5.468 +0.120 18 39 Danyel Torres 1:57.913 102.889 2 +5.638 +0.170 19 70 Tom Fatur/M 1:58.070 102.753 5 +5.795 +0.157 20 25 Jeff McCusker/M 1:58.319 102.536 4 +6.044 +0.249 21 6 Wyatt Gooden 1:58.342 102.516 2 +6.067 +0.023 22 35 Eric Presbrey 1:58.437 102.434 6 +6.162 +0.095 23 42 Bill Jordan/M 1:58.668 102.235 5 +6.393 +0.231 24 90 Robert Wright/M 1:58.693 102.213 5 +6.418 +0.025 25 16 Peter Gonzalez/M 1:59.157 101.815 5 +6.882 +0.464 26 67 Dave Weitzenhof/M 1:59.263 101.725 3 +6.988 +0.106 27 27 Craig Clawson/M 2:00.096 101.019 2 +7.821 +0.833 28 77 Chris Camadella/M 2:00.192 100.938 1 +7.917 +0.096 29 72 Thomas Schwietz/M 2:00.287 100.859 5 +8.012 +0.095 30 46 Doug Rocco 2:00.903 100.345 4 +8.628 +0.616 31 71 Steve Bamford 2:02.158 99.314 3 +9.883 +1.255 32 83 Charles Finelli 2:02.736 98.846 4 +10.461 +0.578 33 61 Tom Drake/M 2:03.916 97.905 4 +11.641 +1.180 34 86 Jim Hanrahan/M 2:05.298 96.825 2 +13.023 +1.382 35 47 Chris Monteleone 2:10.196 93.183 2 +17.921 +4.898 36 89 Rob Nicholas/M -.--- - 0 - - 37 0 Keith McCrone/M -.--- - 0 - - 38 02 Fred Bross/M -.--- - 0 - - 39 9 Jose Montiel -.--- - 0 - - 40 17 John LaRue/M -.--- - 0 - - 41 31 Brendan Puderbach -.--- - 0 - - 42 48 Will Haney -.--- - 0 - - 43 57 Scott Baroody -.--- - 0 - -