F1600: Watkins Glen Preview
Watkins Glen, NY – The F1600 Formula F Championship Series heads to Watkins Glen International this weekend for its second event ever, with an entry list checking in at just over 30 cars. Coming off an action-packed inaugural event at VIR, veteran Tim Kautz leads the points with one race win over John Robinson, Jim Goughary, Bill Valet and Caitlin Johnston.
Kautz, the standing Formula F National Champion in his Piper/Ford, said his goal was to extend his points lead at Watkins Glen.
“This is my first time racing at Watkins Glen,” stated Kautz, driving with sponsorship from Braeburn Thermostats. “Gearing and car setup will be the biggest challenges, we have spent a lot of time on the car since VIR, finding a few things that should make it quicker.”
John Robinson brought home two second place trophies at VIR, and made headlines bringing both a Swift with the Honda Fit powerplant and another identically prepared Swift DB6 with a Ford motor.
Watkins Glen will also make the start of the SOS Children’s Villages Watkins Glen Cup, awarded to the driver who amasses the most points during all four F1600 rounds at Watkins Glen. The Series closes its season at the legendary track, making a second visit, Oct. 14-16.
Despite sitting third in points, Jim Goughary stole the spotlight in Virginia. Goughary, driving a Piper/Honda won the first ever race in Series history in a thrilling side-by-side finish with Robinson.
More notable is the fact that Goughary won at VIR with two broken ribs, sustained during a snowboarding accident. “I did not tell anybody about that because I did not need anyone to sense a weakness, but I am now 100 percent,” he added.
He comes into Watkins Glen with “high expectations,” and a lot of experience and success at the track.
“The Formula F is totally new to me so we are on a steep learning curve,” he explained. “We do not have the car handling properly yet, but are working on it as best we can. We have some new setups we are going to try on the test day that should help.”
Like Robinson, Bill Valet scored two podiums at VIR in a Swift/Ford.
“Realistically I think we have a shot at finishing on the podium, but it's going to be a fight. The talent in the F1600 series is remarkable, and honestly, finishing in the top 10 is a feat in of itself,” said Valet.
“There are a lot of drivers capable of winning this race, so the most important thing is to get as much tire data as possible in the time we have. I'm expecting the top 10 to be covered by a second or less, and as we saw at VIR, a good qualifying position will be of paramount importance.”
Canadian Caitlin Johnston quietly snuck into the top five in points exiting VIR and looks for another pair of top ten finishes at Watkins Glen.
“We are looking to have consistent finishes, as we are points racing,” she said. “Looking forward from VIR, we are continuing to make a lot of progress in our Formula 1600 program. Working on different car set-ups with the Hoosier slick tires and the Honda motor is the primary focus.”
Johnston won’t be the only girl in the field this time, as Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing is on the entry list with Shannon McIntosh, along with teammate Ryan Leach. McIntosh regularly competes in another F2000 Series.
Engine parity will be another hot topic. Leaving VIR, the Series had an even spread of Hondas and Fords as it looks to equalize two different motors.
Action gets going on Thursday, June 2, with a test-day. Friday follows with official practice sessions at 8:30 a.m. and 2:50 p.m. Saturday, June 4, has the F1600 field qualifying at 8:15 a.m. with a race following at 10:15 a.m. Sunday concludes the weekend with a 10:00 a.m. qualifying session and 12:30 a.m. race. All times are eastern. Fans can follow live on F1600Series.com or on Twitter @F1600Series.