Ft. Lauderdale, FL – The opening rounds of the 2013 F2000 Championship Series were about as dramatic as they could get for defending F2000 Champions HP-Tech Motorsport and the No. 9 entry for Roberto Lorena at VIRgina International Raceway. Following a disqualification after Saturday’s second place result, Lorena and the team gathered themselves together and underlined their performance, with a second place finish and a lap led on Sunday.
“This was definitely a winning weekend for us,” said Lorena, from Brazil but now living just outside of Atlanta due to the air access. “We may not have reached the top spot on the podium, but bouncing back from the disqualification on Saturday was a victory for all of us.”
Lorena was competing in his first F2000 pro event, fresh out of the ultra-competitive F1600 Series, and was second fastest in literally every session leading into Saturday’s race – qualifying on the outside of the front row in his debut performance.
The 17-year-old kept a steady pace for the 14-lap race on Saturday, scoring his first podium in professional racing in North America. After the race however, Series officials would disqualify the No. 9 Van Diemen, which had the wrong engine restrictor installed on its 2.0-liter Ford Zetec powerplant.
The car, acquired over the off-season, was configured to run in another F2000 category, and a simple mistake meant the team had never looked into the restrictor configuration. For F2000 Zetec engines, which have been in competition for almost a decade now, there are a multitude of restrictor configurations, millimeters apart.
“When we heard that we were disqualified after getting the podium that was really a shock for the whole team,” explained Lorena.
While Lorena and company were in Virginia, the rest of the Championship-winning HP-Tech team were at the famed Interlagos Formula 1 circuit in Brazil, where they finished fourth in a Ferrari Challenge event. Interestingly, the team engineered the car via phone from Brazil.
The HP-Tech squad answered the call, literally, and Lorena qualified fourth for Sunday’s race with the new restrictor installed in the No. 9 Van Diemen.
As the race unfolded, Lorena was able to steal the lead away from Tim Minor on a restart, briefly leading one lap at the 17-turn VIR complex.
Minor would get by, however, and would pull a gap, and Lorena cruised to a carefully calculated second-place finish, passing post-race inspection.
“We knew that that infraction wasn't responsible for placing us in second in every timed session all the way until Saturday's race, so we were going to get back on track on Sunday morning, and show to everybody that HP-Tech performs the way it performs by having the best people together, and not by running anything out of the rules,:” Lorena continued.
“That was our motivation to get the job done, and now, after even leading the race, I can say that not only we did it, but we showed everybody that we will be fighting all the way for this Championship.”
Throughout the weekend, Lorena added, the team worked on improving the car every session, as the No. 9 inched closer to Minor throughout the four-day event.
HP-Tech, which won 11 of 14 races in the 2012 F2000 Series, has seats available for the rest of the season.
Next up on the 14-race, seven-weekend F2000 Championship Series calendar is Road Atlanta, May 9-11.