F2000: Watkins Glen Preview
Watkins Glen, NY – The F2000 Championship Series 2011 title battle is starting to gather momentum as the 35-car field heads to Watkins Glen International for rounds five and six of the season, supporting the Grand-Am six hour endurance race. Remy Audette is leading the points, coming off two solid drives at Road Atlanta, but rookie Kyle Connery is just 13 points back, taking home two race wins at Road Atlanta.
Audette has four straight top four finishes, including a win at VIR, and hopes to continue his consistency coming into Watkins Glen, where he ran strong in 2009.
“In 2009 we had a good run, but this time we’re more comfortable, so we will push,” said Audette, who drives the #21 Audette Racing Van Diemen. “We are going for the win. The car was really good at VIR and Atlanta and I think we have a good setup to be fast everywhere.”
Audette continued: “I’m not thinking about the championship yet, but we need to finish races and be on the podium.”
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 rounds at Watkins Glen. The Series closes its season at the legendary track, making a second visit, Oct. 14-16.
Connery is looking for more hardware at the Glen. “I’m here to win, with funding still an issue for the rest of the year, we’re working as diligently as possible to demonstrate the value of our team and the exposure we can offer,” he commented.
Connery is working with engineer James Lee, adding: “My goals coming into the weekend are to stay calm, analyze every step, make calculated decisions and most importantly, continue the communication with James.”
The rookie put the exclamation point on a sweep at Road Atlanta, waiting until the last lap to pass Masters Class veteran Tim Minor for the victory. Minor has been the class of the Masters field in 2011 and comes to Watkins Glen expecting to be in the hunt.
“I have finished on the podium there before, and we’re going with the intention of winning,” Minor said. “We have found a pretty good setup for the new rear tires. I will be there to win, not finish second.”
Minor sits fourth in points, with rookie Robert La Rocca separating him and Connery. La Rocca has been the fastest of the new RFR cars through the first four races of 2011.
“We would like to keep the progression of the development and learning process of the car going, which we have successfully been doing,” explained La Rocca, driving for HP-Tech. “One of our main problems at Road Atlanta was that we could not match the Van Diemen's top speed. Once again, we will have new features on the car for the upcoming weekend, and we should see a significant upgrade in performance. “
Primus Racing looks to rebound at Watkins Glen after a bad luck weekend with Nathan Morcom and Jonathan Scarallo in Georgia. Morcom, who won the opening round of the season at VIR, sits fifth in the standings with Scarallo in eighth.
“The goal for Watkins Glen is to pick up where we left off at Road Atlanta, but capitalize on speed,” Scarallo said. “We have the pace, hopefully lady luck will not be so ugly, and I think we will be in good shape to challenge for wins.”
Alegra Motorsports expects to be among the front-runners in upstate New York, marking the team’s second straight weekend with a three-car program. Gustavo Rizzo and Angel Benitez, rookies, will both be in Van Diemens, as Fabio Orsolon will join them again in the RFR chassis.
After a strong close to 2010, Chris Livengood is sitting a distant sixth in points. “The fields have obviously been very tight at the front this year, and we need to really take a deep look at everything we are doing to find the last little bit needed to win,” stated Livengood. “With some luck and a lot of hard work I hope to be inside the top three both days.”
The story lines continue: McLaughlin Motorsports and Ethan Ringel make their second appearance after teething problems at Road Atlanta in the RFR car; the entry lists between F2000 and F1600 are so big the track is giving the Series two paddocks; and Rob Nicholas is back after missing Atlanta, with car updates, and expects to be quick.
Action gets going on Thursday, June 2, with a test-day. Friday follows with official practice sessions at 9:15 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday, June 4, has the F2000 field qualifying at 8:50 a.m. with a race following at 11:00 a.m. Sunday concludes the weekend with a 9:00 a.m. qualifying session and 11:30 a.m. race. All times are eastern. Fans can follow live on F2000Series.com or on Twitter @F2000.