Team Pelfrey regained its winning form when the F1600 Formula F Championship Series returned to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for three more close-fought races this Fourth of July weekend. British teenager Jordan Cane broke the team’s victory drought in Race Two on Sunday morning, while Ben Auriemma moved into a tie for second in the point standings following a fine second-place finish later in the afternoon.
Teammates Andrew Hobbs and Rob Megennis also enjoyed strong weekends, with Hobbs earning a second-place finish in Race One and Megennis claiming three top-five results.
Megennis, 15, from New York, N.Y., laid down a marker for Team Pelfrey by posting the fastest time of all during practice on Friday with a lap of 1:29.834. All four drivers were among the top challengers for pole during the lone qualifying session of the weekend on Saturday morning, although ultimately they had to make do with third (Auriemma), fourth (Hobbs), sixth (Cane) and seventh (Megennis) on the grid for Race One.
The squad gained a position even before the start on Saturday afternoon when pole-sitter and championship leader Scott Andrews failed to take up his position on the starting grid and was obliged to start from the back of the field. It didn’t matter. The Australian quickly made his way through the field, took advantage of a mid-race full-course caution, then vaulted to the lead on the final lap to edge Team Pelfrey’s Hobbs by a scant 0.349s. Megennis, Cane and Auriemma, who led during the early stages, finished fifth, sixth and seventh, all within a hair over two seconds of the race winner following a typically thrilling contest.
The first event on Sunday saw two drivers, Cane and Skylar Robinson, break away from the pack as the race progressed. The pair worked together to maintain their advantage, and although the more experienced Robinson piled on the pressure on the final lap, 14-year-old Cane, from Bognor Regis, England, held on to take the victory by a little more than one second. Megennis and Auriemma, who again led a few laps after starting on the outside of the front row, finished right behind Andrews in fourth and fifth, while Hobbs overcame a mid-race incident to finish 12th.
All four Team Pelfrey Mygale-Hondas were in contention for the win during the final race of the weekend. After leading some laps in each of the first two races, Auriemma, 17, from Manhasset, N.Y., ran another solid race, even though he had to settle for second, just over a tenth of a second behind Andrews who recorded his seventh win of the season. The result took Auriemma to equal second in points with veteran Steve Bamford, just three points clear of Hobbs, 20, from Milwaukee, Wis., who finished fourth, narrowly ahead of Megennis and Cane. The top seven finishers were covered by just 2.109 seconds.
The F1600 Formula F Championship Series will reconvene for three more races, Rounds 13, 14 and 15 of the 21-race season, at the newly revamped Pittsburgh International Race Complex at Wampum, Pa., on August 1-2.
WHAT THE DRIVERS SAID:
Robert Megennis (#80 Team Pelfrey/Relayrides Mygale-Honda) - Race One, started seventh, finished fifth; Race Two, started sixth, finished fourth; Race Three, started first, finished fifth: “It was the best weekend possible without a podium. I was fastest in practice and on pole for Race Three. Multiple top-five finishes and some good driving to show for it. My learning curve has gone through the roof with some of the best and closest racing all year.”
Jordan Cane (#81 Team Pelfrey/#2Bn1 Mygale-Honda) - Race One, started sixth, finished sixth Race Two, started fourth, finished first; Race Three, started sixth, finished sixth: “All in all a very solid weekend which gives me a lot of confidence for the remaining races. It was an awesome feeling getting my first win. The first race was good as we had broken away but then the Safety Car brought the pack back to us. Still was pleased with P6 but it could have been better. Obviously I'm happy with the second race. Skylar and I made a break and we traded the lead every lap. On the final lap Skylar tried to make a move but I managed to hold it to the end. Eight cars battled it out from start to finish in Race Three and I was a little upset by the defending in front of me but happy with my performance finishing sixth again. Overall, my best weekend in motorsport; still have got a lot to learn though! The team was great and gave me a fast car. I’m looking forward to more of these weekends.”
Ben Auriemma (#82 Team Pelfrey/ACG Motorsports Mygale-Honda) - Race One, started third, finished seventh; Race Two, started second, finished fifth; Race Three, started second, finished second: “Curiously, all three of my races had exactly the same first half – I started second in each, held my position on the start and took the lead a couple laps in. From there I was able to defend the lead until about halfway each time, but in all three races an unlucky chain of events put me back to around sixth within a lap or two. My driving once I was behind cars was admittedly poor in the first two races, so I knew I really had to step it up in the last race. I did exactly that and was much more assertive with all my moves. It paid off in the form of a second-place finish, putting a sweet end to a bitter weekend. I'm still searching for my first win, but it's on its way.”
Andrew Hobbs (#83 Team Pelfrey/Pulse/Master Tech/David Hobbs Honda Mygale-Honda) - Race One, started fourth, finished second; Race Two, started third, finished 12th; Race Three, started fifth, finished fourth: “It was another good weekend skewed by an event in the second race. Race One went fantastically. I was fighting for the win until the last lap and managed to come in second, my best finish of the season. Races Two and Three didn't go as well. While running fourth I made a mistake that dropped me to 12th. Race Three was better; after dropping back to seventh early on I made my way back to fourth. Overall it was another solid weekend and I can't thank the team and my sponsors enough for their support.”