Sharon, CT – The F1600 Formula F Championship Series will embark on history this weekend at VIRginia International Raceway for the inaugural rounds of the new national pro series with 32 cars on the initial entry list. Nine chassis manufacturers are represented with 12 Honda Fit and 20 Ford Kent engines.
The class and the category, which originally peaked in the mid 1980s, is back for a 10-race, five-event 2011 tour, with a full field on spec Hoosier tires, and strong expectations.
The entry list reads as a who’s-who of race car manufacturers with chassis from Van Diemen, Swift, Piper, Mygale, Royale, Citation, Lola, Bowman and Crossle.
The early favorites are a question mark as the deep field features established veterans, aspiring, but proven drivers, and fresh rookies looking to launch their careers
Young aspiring drivers Colin Thompson and Sam Beasley, both under the age of 18, are poised to be at the front of the field. Beasley is entered in a Mygale/Honda for Primus Racing while Thompson is in a Swift DB6/Honda.
Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing brings a proven record in open-wheel racing, fielding a single car effort for Ryan Leach in a Swift DB6/Ford.
Other prominent prep shops represented for the inaugural weekend of F1600 include Polestar Racing and Front Range Motorsports.
Current Formula F National Champion Tim Kautz won the Runoffs at Elkhart Lake last year and could play spoiler in his Piper/Ford.
Caitlin Johnston, who was a front-runner last year in the Ontario Formula Ford Championship alongside a handful of starts in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, plans to contest the entire season in her Van Diemen/Honda. Johnston competed in F2000 in 2009.
“My goal for VIR is to get familiar with our new Honda engine package,” stated Johnston. “We need to get as much track time as possible and post some good numbers. The overall goal for the season is to finish every race we enter and shoot for the top five in the Championship.”
Six years ago, the owners of the F2000 Championship Series started their journey, launching the new Series at VIR with just 13 entries. Now, that Series rolls into Virginia with 31 on the list, and F1600 joins the corporate umbrella, with a much stronger start, after years of planning, at 32 entries and contingency money available from both Honda and Ford.
The Series will be working hard to equalize both power plants, introducing a restrictor on the Honda Fit cars that is subject to change over the course of the season.
Multiple National Champion John Robinson will not be taking any chances with engine equalization, bringing two Swift DB6s with each engine option to VIR.
“What better way to package spares than to bring a complete car,” said Robinson. “Depending on the restrictor, it will be a toss up as to which car to run, and that decision won’t be made until qualifying begins.”
Mike Scanlan, entered in a Swift DB6/Honda, added: “My goal is to contend for wins. We feel that we have the Honda sorted out after a very successful, 2010 season running Nationals and being competitive at the Runoffs. I have tested the Series tire from Hoosier against much softer rubber, and we feel we have the setup right for the tire.
“How the first weekend goes will depend so much on the restrictor plate issue. Clearly the Fit should have an advantage down low and give a little away at the top; gearing selection will be huge for the Fit runners. As for cars to beat, I won't bite on that, there are too many top shelf drivers entered, National champions among them,” continued Scanlan.
Follow action from VIR with timely updates on the web at F1600Series.com.Thursday kicks off with a full day of testing around the 3.27-mile, 17-turn circuit. Friday features officially timed practice sessions before the first qualifying session on Saturday at 10:00 followed by race one of the 2011 season at 4:00. Action gets started on Sunday at 12:15, with qualifying for the 4:00 green flag. All times are eastern.