F1600 Championship Battle Gains Momentum
Salem, NH – Off a break-out set of victories, Ayla Agren is leading the F1600 Formula F Championship Series standings with just four races to go. The Series heads for Thomson Speedway, on the new road course, for rounds 11 and 12 this weekend, as the 2014 season continues to be action packed.
Agren is enjoying a 44 point lead over teammate Garth Rickards, with just a handful of points back to Augie Lerch, Jack Mitchell Jr, and Jim Goughary – with all five of the drivers very much in the hunt. Lerch won at Mid-Ohio, while Mitchell Jr. is coming off his first win at Pittsburgh and Goughary took two victories early in the year.
Throwing the points chase on its head, though, are the F1600 rules, which factor in dropping the lowest two finishes of each driver over the course of the 14-race season. If calculated now, Agren’s points lead slims down to just 15 over her Pelfrey teammate, while Rickards and Goughary are promoted to third and fourth, and Lerch slides to fifth.
The series is coming off a dramatic weekend at Pittsburgh, with Evan Mehan and Jack Mitchell Jr. penalized following Sunday’s race. Those two drivers crossed the line one-two, but penalties for blocking gave Agren the win. Days later, after a full review of video, Mitchell Jr.’s penalty was rescinded, giving the No. 93 Spectrum/Honda from Exclusive Autsoport the top step on the podium. It also made Exclusive Autosport the first team besides Ski Motorsports to win in both F1600 and F2000 this season.
The points scenarios are complicated but underline that consistency and finishing races well are the key to success. Agren and Rickards have been the fastest and most consistent drivers over the year. Agren has no DNFs while Rickards has finished all but one of the 10 races run so far.
As tempers heat up at the front of the field, a veteran like Goughary could be poised to take advantage in the No. 7 Ski Motorsports Van Diemen/Honda. Goughary leads all active F1600 drivers with three career victories.
Events this season have been unpredictable, with last-lap passes and lots of drafting. Steve Bamford prevailed for his first victory at VIR, while Brandon Newey won in a Chastain Motorsports one-off the previous day in Virginia. Chastain's trio of drivers have been fast all year. While the No. 27 of Chastain has regularly up front, a victory has yet to come - while teammate Mehan has been fast but raw, often drawing the ire of Series race officials.
Pittsburgh saw a leap forward from WISKO's pair of rookies in Andrew Hobbs and Will Harvey. Hobbs was able to lead practice times in the WISKO Mygale/Honda while Harvey ran in the top five during Saturday's race.
Now comes a new challenge with the Series’ first visit to Thompson Speedway, and the first pro event on the track’s renovated road course facility that sat dormant for decades.
Thursday, August 28. will offer a full program test-day. Friday will see two 30-minute practice sessions before Saturday morning qualifying and an afternoon race (round 11). Sunday’s schedule calls for required morning quiet time, with both qualifying and a race in the afternoon.