Formula Race Promotions Completes First Weekend of 2023 with Close Finishes
It was the first Formula Race Promotions (FRP) event of the season as teams and competitors descended on the Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta to kick off the 2023 season in combination with Trans-Am and hosted by SVRA. With the anxiousness of a long off-season ready to be unleashed during the first green flags of the season, the race action was incredible, especially in the F1600 ranks that saw multiple different drivers earn podium results in the largest F1600 field in FRP history.
1. Ely Navarro – 1:30.671
2. Theodore Burns – 1:31.130
3. Jack Sullivan – 1:31.293
4. Porter Aiken – 1:31.333
5. Sebastian Naranjo – 1:31.626
F1600 Masters Qualifying
1. Robert Perona – 1:31.562
2. Joe Colasacco – 1:31.585
3. David Adorno – 1:32.326
4. Scott Rubenzer – 1:32.920
5. David Livingston Jr. – 1:33.260
The first race of the weekend was run on wet weather tires as the heavens opened overnight and into the morning. After the race began, several cars were off the slick racing surface causing a lengthy caution period. With Sebastian Naranjo leading to the restart, Porter Aiken and Ely Navarro made quick work to dispose of Naranjo and take over the top-two positions. Aiken and Navarro swapped the top-two positions lap after lap before settling in to run one-two, more than three seconds ahead of the third-place runner, and F1600 Masters leader, Bob Perona. With a drying track and officials switching from laps to a timed race and as the leaders approached the final circuit, it was a two-driver race for the win. Aiken led Navarro as the Rice Race Prep driver ran in the tire tracks of the leader. In the long run down to turn ten on the final lap, Navarro faked a move to the inside before trying to go the long way around. Charging into turn ten, Navarro tried to slip and slide his way around the outside as he lost control and spun into the gravel trap and out of the race. With Navarro out, Aiken drove uncontested to the win ahead of early race leader Naranjo. Bob Perona finished third on track but led the F1600 Master contingent. Fourth overall was Callum Baxter ahead of Jonathan Lee and Mish Goikhberg. Behind Perona and joining him on the F1600 Master podium was David Adorno and Joe Colasaco.
Courtesy of his fastest lap in race one, Jonathan Lee earned the pole position ahead of Naranjo and the round one winner Porter Aiken. Baxter lined up on the outside of row four with Ely Navarro and Bob Perona in row three. With a caution on the opening lap due to a single-car incident in the first corner, drivers would need to hold their aggression at bay as a single-file restart soon followed. With Lee leading the field to the green, his time at the pointy end of the field was short-lived, falling victim to the advances of Aiken, Navarro, Naranjo and Perona as drafting and position-changing ensued for the next several laps.
With Masters driver Bob Perona taking the lead three laps from the end, a late race caution solidified his win as the field took the checkered flag behind the pace car. Ely Navarro crossed the line in second joined on the overall podium by Poter Aiken, with Sullivan, Lee, and Baxter to round out the top-six. With Perona earning the overall and F1600 Master win, he remained on the top step and was joined by Joe Colasacco and Scott Rubenzer in second and third for the Masters class.
Joe Colasacco achieved the pole for race three in a unique scenario, as F1600 Master drivers earned three of the fastest four race laps in race two and four of the top-six positions on the starting grid. Behind Colasacco, Ely Navarro looked to take the attack to Colasacco starting second, while Scott Rubenzer and David Adorno occupied row two, ahead of Charles Anti and race two winner Bob Perona setting up for a dynamic race three.
With a mixed condition but mostly dry track for the third and final F1600 race of the weekend, it was a winner already on the race weekend that broke through for his second trip to the top step of the podium. In another close finisher, with multiple lead changes in the final laps among the top 4 competitors. Traffic played a part, as Porter Aiken earned a dramatic victory by .077 over Callum Baxter in a two-driver race up front for the win. Ely Navarro was the best of the rest as he crossed the line in third for another trip to the podium, with Master’s Joe Colasacco just two-tenths behind to finish fourth and clinch the Masters race win. Just behind in fifth overall was Jack Sullivan ahead of Bob Perona, who earned the fastest lap of the race and second step of the podium in the Master class. David Adorno was next in line his second trip of the weekend to the Masters podium, joining Colasacco and Perona to round out a great start for the FRP F1600 season.
1. Trevor Russell – 1:33.340
2. Brandon Dixon – 1:33.560
3. JT Novosielski – 1:36.076
4. Tim Minor – 1:44.019
5. Robert Wright – 1:44.320
Atlantic 016 Qualifying
1. Tony Ave – 1:25.876
2. Jimmy Simpson – 1:26.737
3. Keith Grant – 1:26.748
4. Chip Romer – 1:27.802
5. Dudley Fleck – 1:27.813
Atlantic Open Class Qualifying
1. Austin Hill – 1:34.061
2. Robert Wright
3. Bob Corliss
1. Steve Hamilton
2. Tim Pierce
It was a combined session that saw four open-wheel classes compete during the same run group as the F2000 competitors shared the Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta with Atlantic 016 drivers, Atlantic Open racers, and F1000 competitors. Leading the way to the overall group win and topping the podium in the Atlantic 016 class was Jimmy Simpson. Despite not being the fastest driver on track, as that honor went to Keith Grant, Simpson methodically positioned his car at the front of the field to take the first race win of the season. Keith Grant crossed the line in second to stand on the podium and earn the fastest race lap honors as Chip Romer celebrated in the third position. Richard Zober was the best of the rest in fourth, just ahead of Christopher Ash in the fifth position. In the Atlantic Open class, it was Bob Corliss who scored the fastest race lap honors for the class but was behind Austin Hill on the results sheets. Hill continued where he left off 2022, at the top step of the podium ahead of Corliss and Robert Wright.
A legendary name in FRP F2000 racing returned in 2023 and found his way to the top step of the podium in race one as Tim Minor scored the win. Just a half second behind, multi-time national champion Brandon Dixon piloted his popular #5 entry to the second position as he nabbed some podium hardware along with the third-place finisher of Trevor Russell. It was JT Novosielski who completed the full race distance of 15 laps to finish fourth ahead of the ageless Dave Weitzenhof in fifth. With only a pair of drivers in the F1000 class, Tim Pierce earned the win ahead of Steve Hamilton.
With lap times from race one setting the grid for race two, Keith Grant led the Atlantic 016 class to the green flag ahead of Jimmy Simpson while Bob Corliss earned the pole position ahead of Austin Hill in the Atlantic Open class. Trevor Russell led the F2000 field to the green flag alongside Brandon Dixon while Steve Hamilton paced the F1000 grid.
The weather would play another role in the results as rain moved into the area on Saturday afternoon to separate the men from the boys. It was Simpson who rose to the occasion in the Atlantic 016 class as he took a dominant victory claiming the checkered flag more than ten seconds ahead of his closest competitors of Dudley Fleck and Chip Romer who had a dramatic drag race to the checker separated only by .051 seconds with Fleck edging out Romer. On the podium, Chip Romer exclaimed it was his first rain race ever, and he had a blast! Keith Grant earned a fourth-place finish with Richard Zober rounding out the top-five. The Atlantic Open class was won for the second day in a row by Austin Hill as Trevor Russell beat Brandon Dixon and JT Novosielski to the top step of the podium in the F2000 ranks. Steve Hamilton beat Tim Pierce by just under a second to win F1000 with Pierce in second and Nathan Byrd, joining the field only for this race, in the third position.
Next up for the FRP competitors will be in one month's time as teams and competitors will take on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course over the April 28-30 weekend.
Stay tuned for all the news and information regarding the event and find details about the event on the FRP website at racefrp.com and throughout event weekends on social media.
View all of the live stream playbacks for the weekend:
Link to all of Saturday’s Racing – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uo-5ZHiMolg
Link to all of Sunday’s Racing - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyN_jSMNkAQ
Link to F1600 Race three - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VD75oXRV8_I
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