F1600 Gears Up for Mid-Ohio
Lexington, OH – Tim Kautz and Bill Valet lead a highly competitive 29-car field to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend for rounds five and six of the 2011 F1600 Formula F Championship Series. Both are coming off strong runs at Watkins Glen, where they each took a victory, with Kautz extending his points to lead to 21 over Valet heading into Ohio.
The curve ball being thrown at teams coming to the Mid-Ohio doubleheader, however, is the schedule. A Thursday practice day will give way to dual qualifying sessions and races both on Friday and Saturday with just 30 minutes in-between sessions. The short turnaround time, much like a Saturday night short-track program, will not allow for any mistakes.
Kautz is coming off what may be the drive of the year at Watkins Glen, going from 11th to first in just a handful of laps in his Piper/Ford.
“There will be no time for miscues and repairs at Mid-Ohio,” he commented. “We need to be prepared, but are not immune to issues. If things go wrong, they can go really wrong with this schedule. Our goal is always to win, but this is a points race and it rewards good consistent finishes, too.”
On hand both Friday and Saturday at Mid-Ohio will be Honda Performance Development’s (HPD) hospitality unit, serving lunch and snacks for both the F1600 and F2000 paddocks. Additionally, The Mid-Ohio School will provide instruction to all F1600 drivers. HPD will also be arranging a sponsorship seminar.
Bill Valet is coming off his first career win at Watkins Glen, and hopes to continue the momentum to Mid-Ohio.
“I've never been to Mid-Ohio before, so Thursday will be very important for me,” said Valet, driving a Swift/Ford. “The most difficult part will be learning the track so I can focus on making the car better.
“In order to keep running at the front, I will need to bring the car back in one piece as much as possible,” he continued. “It’s too early to think about the title. Right now, I’m focusing on being consistent, so I can be in the hunt.”
John Robinson sits third in the standings, and will again bring both Honda and Ford powered cars in his trailer.
Jim Goughary meanwhile is 38 points back from Robinson, having won the first race in Series history at VIR earlier this year in his Piper/Honda.
“I have had a ton of track time and a lot of success at Mid-Ohio,” said Goughary. “We are going there to win, but we also have to think about the points race. I will try to manage both, depending on how it unfolds.”
Caitlin Johnston has four straight top 10 finishes in her Van Diemen/Honda, and hopes to break onto the podium at Mid-Ohio. She sits fifth in the points.
The new Spectrum Formula F chassis will make its North American debut on Thursday fielded by Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing and Australian rookie Mitch Martin as the driver. Martin brings a handful of Formula Vee races to the grid. The Spectrum will have a Honda powerplant, according to a release from the manufacturer.
Martin will race alongside Cape Motorsports teammate Ryan Leach, who will move over to a Van Diemen/Honda for the weekend.
Just missing out on his first-ever win at Watkins Glen, Colin Thompson will miss the weekend with a broken leg suffered during an ATV incident, but is expected back at Lime Rock in September.
Thursday, June 30 features three official practice sessions scheduled at 5:30 p.m, 6:45 and 7:45 local time. Friday, July 1 continues with two 20-minute qualifying sessions, at 4:00 and 4:55, and the first race of the weekend 6:00.
Saturday’s schedule mimics the Friday schedule, but with a 11:00 a.m. “Town Hall” style F1600 meeting Series officials can request feedback on the direction of the Championship.