F1600 VIR Preview
Salem, NH – Four races down, 10 to go, and every finish has come down to the last lap so far in 2014 for the F1600 Formula F Championship Series. This weekend the tour heads toward rounds five and six at VIRginia International Raceway, a track that has produced epic down-to-the-wire F1600 races in past years.
In fact, the first ever race in Series history came down to a photo-finish, with 2014 points leader Jim Goughary taking the win by mere inches back in 2011. Now, he comes to VIR freshly energized off two wins in 2014 and a three point Championship lead for Ski Motorsports in his Van Diemen/Honda.
Goughary’s slim lead is the result of a last-lap collision going for two wins in two days at Watkins Glen that left him on the side of the race track. Garth Rickards, meanwhile, has put together an ultra-consistent season of podium runs and finds himself second in points for Team Pelfrey in the Mygale/Honda package.
It’s still early in the Championship, but those two have separated themselves despite four races that saw lead packs in the 10-car range. If the action at the front of the pack stays consistent, expect an unpredictable weekend at VIR.
Sitting third in points is Exclusive Autosport’s Jack Mitchell Jr., the first of the Spectrum/Hondas, and coming off a weekend at Watkins Glen where he briefly took the lead and managed to break the draft.
A second Pelfrey car follows him on the Championship table for Ayla Agren, who is right ahead of her teammate Augie Lerch in the standings.
Raceworks’ Brandon Angel continued his pace at Watkins Glen, bringing home more points to vault him into sixth in the Championship, ahead of Nikita Lastochkin, who scored his best result of the year with a top five at the Glen despite an early-year team switch.
The storylines go deeper as well, as Franklin Futrelle is a distance back in points after missing a race and two DNFS, but has run at the front in each of his three starts, winning the season opener in the Raceworks Spectrum/Honda. It’s been feast or famine for the professional driving instructor.
After a crash at Road Atlanta, Sam Chastain and his Chastain Motorsports team bounced back with two top tens and a solid pace at Watkins Glen – and briefly put his No. 27 at the point of the field during the first race. He will be joined by 2012 Championship runner-up Brandon Newey in the No. 29 Mygale/Honda.
Max Mallinen continues his progress in the Swan Motorsports Spectrum/Honda as well, advancing the most positions of any driver during the Series’ May visit to Watkins Glen without any track time on Friday prior to qualifying.
That won’t happen at VIR as two full Friday practice sessions are preceded by hours of track time and a full Formula Race Promotions test day this Thursday.
Saturday and Sunday each feature a qualifying session and a race as F1600 pairs up, as usual, with the F2000 Championship Series and new Atlantic Championship Series for its trip to a newly re-paved VIR.