“We haven’t won yet. We’ve been on the overall podium, won the Masters Class, but you have to win races,” said Kevin Firlein, who heads up K-Fast Autosport which has fielded Masters Class veteran Rob Nicholas for a number of seasons in the F2000 Championship Series.
“The goal is to win. That is what it’s really all about,” he continued.
But Nicholas, in the #89 Van Diemen, has been close. The veteran has paced a number of series-sanctioned test days and official practice sessions, and is usually near the front in qualifying too.
The 2010 Road Atlanta weekend was probably the closet Nicholas has come, fighting for the lead with the Alegra Motorsports duo in both rounds before on-track incidents.
“That weekend ultimately ended badly but that was the weekend that from start to finish, we were the most competitive.”
Firlein drove himself from 1986 until 2002 competitively, testing cars through 2007, and has been in the prep-shop business full time since 1988. He has a collection of Run-Offs medals, including one gold, three silver and three bronze along with eight SCCA divisional titles, six regional titles and three Driver of the Year awards.
In the Details
Firlein is responsible for the engineering on the car and keeping it near the front.
At Mid-Ohio the team debuted new parts, including PFC aluminum calipers and new uprights, as well as a new rear wing.
“We have new driveline parts from WRD for this coming season as well as a new front wing and a new diffuser,” Firlein pointed out. “We are squeezing more life out of the Van Diemen trying to go faster.”
The biggest variable for 2011 will be the new Hoosier spec tire, Firlein said.
“It’ll be the same for everyone though, and Hoosier has three years of development running the spec tire. No doubt the new tire will be better, but how much better is the real question,” he added.
“The first day at VIR will probably be the most work, but everyone will be using last year’s setup and changing it from there. Other than that you are changing the car all the time anyway, so the tire shouldn’t be that big of a deal.”
All in the Tires
Firlein mentioned the biggest thing on the agenda for him in 2011 was fixing the fact “that we are fastest on Thursday, quick on Friday, top five on Saturday and then lose pace on Sunday.
“Rob’s driving style is very aggressive which gets the most out of the tires, but it also pushes them so that by Sunday, we put on two new ones but the other two are pretty beat up,” adding that Nicholas likes a “really lose race car.”
“The combination is to come up with something we like for the car, and get Rob not to slide around so much,” he explained. “That way, we get the setup on the car that won’t punish the tires. We want to be good on both Saturday and Sunday.”
The K-Fast team is spending the winter working on customer cars, planning to run a partial schedule foNicholas in the F2000 Series in 2011 while eyeing the new F1600 Formula F Championship Series.