Sharon, CT - With four races to go in the 2012 F2000 Championship Series season, points leader Robert La Rocca looks set to clinch the 2012 title this weekend during a doubleheader at Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia. The Venezuelan, however, will face a deep field, perhaps the biggest of the year, including Mid-Ohio winner Wyatt Gooden and Summit Point experts Kevin Kopp and Tim Minor.
La Rocca has a runaway points lead from eight wins in 10 races, and has been nearly unstoppable in his HP-Tech Van Diemen.
“This weekend will be the same as always,” said La Rocca, “keep focused, and concentrate on each session independently.”
For the HP-Tech team, a Championship in just their second season will mark an impressive debut for the squad, which added a third car at Mid-Ohio for Cesar Lapoint, who showed speed in his Series debut.
The last time the Series was at Summit Point, however, Masters Class veteran Tim Minor put on a driving clinic in his No. 88 Van Diemen. Minor, a Summit Point expert, won that weekend, and could return to victory lane in the Citation chassis, easily having the most laps around the track in the F2000 field.
“We really struggled at Mid-Ohio with limited time in this car,” said Minor. “We continue to make changes, though, and things are getting better.”
Coming off a Mid-Ohio win, Wyatt Gooden remains the only driver this year to win a race besides La Rocca. Gooden, driving for Quantum Racing Services in the No. 6 Van Diemen, has taken home wins at Lime Rock and Mid-Ohio.
Gooden is within striking distance in the points, but will need luck on his side, more than 100 points back.
Minor sits behind Gooden in the Championship, and is followed by Niki Coello, in the No. 81 RFR chassis.
Coello said his team found cracks in the chassis following a crash at New Jersey Motorsports Park, and that he has never been to Summit Point before.
“It will take a bit of luck on our side and hardship for the others to get a win,” Coello added. “It has just been difficult to develop a car during race weekends. My plan is to run consistent and try to stay out of trouble, so I can take advantage of any misfortunes by others. This has been the longest I’ve gone without a win in my entire career. I’ve never been hungrier.”
Another driver trying to develop the RFR chassis is Kyle Connery, who ran to a podium finish at Mid-Ohio.
“It was an incredible weekend and don't think I've ever been so satisfied with a second place,” said Connery, who won six races in 2011 in a Van Diemen. “It's sent a wave of encouragement throughout the whole team; quite lifting. I've already begun testing on iRacing to help the team on gearing and other set-ups.”
Rookie Kevin Kopp holds the Spec Miata track record at Summit Point, his home track. Kopp is leading rookie points, also having passed some 42 cars this season. His WISKO F2000 team will also mark its home race, catering dinner for the F2000 paddock on Saturday night. The team adds a second Van Diemen for Brazilian Danyel Torres.
Kopp rounds out the top five in the points listings, with Tim Paul close behind in sixth following his controversial clash with La Rocca at Mid-Ohio while fighting for second.
Another Summit Point notable is the return of Brazilian Gustavo Rizzo for Group A Racing. Rizzo will run the rest of the year for the Long Island-based team.
Additionally, coming home well inside the top 10 at Mid-Ohio was Bill Jordan, the oldest driver in the field for Polestar Racing Group, as he hopes to continue that momentum to West Virginia.
The Summit Point weekend features a packed schedule, with F2000 sharing track time with the Atlantic Championship Series and F1600, in addition to motorcycles. Practice gets going on Friday, August 24, at 10:10 local time, with another session at 11:55 and qualifying rounds following at 2:25 and 4:10. Saturday and Sunday feature a 8:10 warm up and 5:00 race, with live audio available for qualifying and races, and updates throughout the weekend on www.f2000series.com.