Lexington, OH – Ayla Agren scored a breakthrough inaugural win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, putting her No. 81 Mygale/Honda in the lead early in the race and fending off her teammate in the closing stages of round seven of the F1600 Series season. Agren led a Team Pelfrey sweep of the top four spots, winning by a slim margin over Garth Rickards while Nikita Lastochkin and Augie Lerch earned a hard-fought third and fourth over Jack Mitchell Jr. who followed in fifth.
Agren, from Norway, has been knocking on the door for her first win since Road Atlanta in April, finishing on the podium there and missing out on victory at VIR in June by a car length. The second-year F1600 driver led practice on Friday at Mid-Ohio with the fastest time and started second for Saturday’s race, quickly finding herself in the lead and carefully playing a race craft game with teammate and points leader Rickards.
“It’s really great to get my first win,” said Agren, who slims down Rickards’ Championship lead even more. “I have to thank Pelfrey for the effort this weekend so far. I knew Garth was coming and I just put my head down and kept focusing forward.”
Agren becomes the first female and Norwegian to win a F1600 Championship Series race. Interestingly, she becomes the first full-time aspiring driver to win a race in F1600 in 2014, in what has turned out to be a hotly contested season.
Rickards couldn’t find a way past Agren on the final laps after closing in on her from 1.5 seconds out in the final stages of the all-green-flag race.
“Ayla was fast today and it was great to get the team their first win like this,” said Rickards, who has also been close all year to a first victory.
Nikita Lastochkin and Augie Lerch completed the top four positions in an all Team Pelfry yellow and black car sweep, but those two had a much tougher race, having to deal with a charging Mitchell Jr. in on the last lap.
Mitchell Jr. had worked himself up from 10th early in the race, and as the Spectrum/Honda from Exclusive Autosport came alive, he moved up the order in a hurry, finding himself in a spot for a podium but failing to capitalize fighting against the duo from Pelfry.
Another highlight drive was put in by Evan Mehan, who charged from 13th on the grid to finish sixth in his first ever F1600 race in the No. 29 for Chastain Motorsports.
Jim Goughary won the Masters Class with a seventh place run, but that is not the result the Road Atlanta and Watkins Glen winner wanted to see as he continues to lose Championship ground to Agren and Rickards.
Sam Chastain, Lew Cooper III and Art Foster completed the top ten. Cooper had run as high as second early in the race but said the tires on his Spectrum had faded, leaving him a sitting duck.
VIR winner Steve Bamford was in the lead group early but pulled off halfway through the race. Corner worker radio reports suggested the retirement may have been due to contact with another car.
The weekend concludes on Sunday, July 6, with 8:30am F1600 qualifying followed by a 1:00pm green flag for round eight of the 14-race 2014 F1600 Series season.
PosNo.NameLapsBest TmMake/ModelDiff 1 81 Ayla Agren 18 1:28.367 Mygale Honda - 2 83 Garth Rickards 18 1:28.048 Mygale Honda +0.188 3 80 NIkita Lastochkin 18 1:28.743 Mygale Sj Honda +8.580 4 82 Augie Lerch 18 1:28.616 Mygale Honda +8.780 5 93 Jack Mitchell, Jr. 18 1:28.313 Spectrum Honda +9.076 6 29 Evan Mehan 18 1:28.222 Mygale Honda +9.340 7 7 James Goughary/M 18 1:28.502 Van Diemen Honda +10.158 8 27 T. Sam Chastain 18 1:28.442 Mygale Sj13 Honda +13.541 9 0 Lewis Cooper III/M 18 1:28.788 Spectrum 14 Honda +14.619 10 21 Arthur Foster/M 18 1:29.010 Spectrum 014 Honda +18.746 11 3 Joe Colasacco/M 18 1:29.287 Van Diemen Honda +18.810 12 46 Douglas Voss/M 18 1:29.008 Spectrum 012B Honda +22.565 13 24 Will Harvey 18 1:29.259 Mygale Sj Honda +31.030 14 31 Scott Rubenzer/M 18 1:29.916 Spectrm Honda +32.757 15 06 Austin McCusker 18 1:30.035 Van Deiman Honda +33.340 16 10 Max Mallinen 18 1:30.480 Spectrum 014 Honda +44.118 17 2 Mike Scanlan/M 18 1:30.548 Spectrum Honda +44.439 18 13 Andrew Hobbs 18 1:29.408 Mygale Sj Honda +45.802 19 66 Bob Melvin/M 17 1:33.857 Van Diemen Ford 1 Lap 20 07 Steve Bamford/M 8 1:29.265 Mygale Sj11 Honda 10 Laps