La Rocca Makes it Three for Three

May 11, 2012
La Rocca leads a tight battle for the lead. (photo: Valet)

Braselton, GA – Robert La Rocca made it three wins in three starts in 2012, winning at Road Atlanta on Friday morning after trading the lead back and forth throughout the 18-lap race with rookie Wyatt Gooden, who started from pole. La Rocca eventually separated from Gooden, who went on to finish second, his best F2000 performance to date for Quantum Racing Services, with Kyle Connery following in third place. All three drivers were in Van Diemens.

Not only did La Rocca separate from the field, but he set the fastest lap of the race at 1:24.805, under the track record and even the pole time.

“That was an awesome car to drive here,” said La Rocca, driving for HP-Tech. “It was consistent and we had a good restart after the caution. I was able to separate and then just put my head down; it was fun to race with Wyatt.”

“I was trying my hardest up to keep up,” explained Gooden. “I can’t complain for it being my first time to Road Atlanta. It was a pretty tight battle for the lead for a bit, and Robert raced me close and hard, but clean. I’m really starting to get a better understanding of how to drive this car.”

Connery meanwhile, rounded out the podium and was close to the lead battle before dropping back. The American has become a big story in the paddock, having switched from the RFR chassis after practice back to a Van Diemen, in which he won both Road Atlanta races in 2011.

“It’s great to be back on the podium,” noted Connery, who last stepped on the podium after sweeping Watkins Glen last October. “We found speed in the other car, but not enough.”

Also notable is that even with the resources and buzz surrounding the new cars, the podium represented the proven Van Diemens, which have won all F2000 races since the Series started in 2006.

Niki Coello was the first of those new cars, finishing fourth after two podiums at VIR in April in the No. 81 RFR. Chris Livengood, meanwhile, notched a fifth place in the No. 37 John Walko Racing RFR after electrical problems during rounds one and two.

However, Livengood failed post race technical inspection and was disqualified, promoting Tim Minor to fifth.

Minor won the Masters Class in the Citation chassis for Ski Motorsports, finishing fifth ahead of Tim Paul, Gerald Kraut, Dave Weitzenhof, Zach Craigo and Mark Defer.

A third place qualifying effort by Fabio Orsolon was voided when the No. 77 Radon’s starter motor failed on the grid, while John LaRue brought out the first and only caution of the race after a crash.

La Rocca’s HP-Tech teammate, Jose Montiel, failed to finish following mechanical problems.

Jose Gerardo took the CellMark Paper Hard Charger award, improving nine places during the race for Front Range Motorsports.

The weekend concludes with an 8:00am F2000 qualifying tomorrow, Saturday, May 12, followed by round four of the 2012 season at 11:15am. Qualifying and the race will feature live audio on www.livestream.com/F2000. News, results, social media updates and photos will be available on www.F2000Series.com throughout the weekend.

Race Results
Pos No. Name Laps Total Tm Diff Gap Avg. Speed Best Tm Best Spd 1 10 Robert LaRocca 18 30:04.786 - - 91.198 1:24.805 107.824 2 6 Wyatt Gooden 18 30:05.955 +1.169 +1.169 91.138 1:25.104 107.445 3 91 Kyle Connery 18 30:15.300 +10.514 +9.345 90.669 1:25.548 106.887 4 81 Niki Coello 18 30:18.481 +13.695 +3.181 90.511 1:26.076 106.232 5 88 Tim Minor/M 18 30:25.125 +20.339 +6.644 90.181 1:26.377 105.862 6 06 Tim Paul 18 30:25.481 +20.695 +0.356 90.164 1:26.355 105.888 7 55 Gerald Kraut/M 18 30:28.076 +23.290 +2.595 90.036 1:26.789 105.359 8 67 Dave Weitzenhof/M 18 30:29.154 +24.368 +1.078 89.983 1:26.638 105.543 9 18 Zach Craigo 18 30:30.169 +25.383 +1.015 89.933 1:26.760 105.394 10 8 Mark Defer/M 18 30:38.116 +33.330 +7.947 89.544 1:27.353 104.679 11 1 Nathan Marcom 18 30:40.566 +35.780 +2.450 89.425 1:27.335 104.700 12 66 Kevin Kopp 18 30:42.713 +37.927 +2.147 89.320 1:27.538 104.457 13 72 Thomas Schwietz/M 18 30:48.639 +43.853 +5.926 89.034 1:27.483 104.523 14 14 Jose Gerardo/M 18 30:52.455 +47.669 +3.816 88.851 1:27.961 103.955 15 42 Bill Jordan/M 18 30:56.744 +51.958 +4.289 88.645 1:28.711 103.076 16 56 Steve Coates 18 30:57.047 +52.261 +0.303 88.631 1:28.103 103.788 17 16 Peter Gonzalez/M 18 30:57.435 +52.649 +0.388 88.613 1:28.334 103.516 18 19 John Brumder/M 18 30:57.922 +53.136 +0.487 88.589 1:28.338 103.512 19 7 Brent Gilkes/M 18 31:01.135 +56.349 +3.213 88.436 1:27.142 104.932 20 35 Eric Presbrey 18 31:18.322 +1:13.536 +17.187 87.627 1:29.473 102.198 21 51 Dan Denison/M 18 31:19.178 +1:14.392 +0.856 87.587 1:30.454 101.090 22 83 Charles Finelli/M 18 31:42.795 +1:38.009 +23.617 86.500 1:27.762 104.191 23 31 Brendan Puderbach 17 30:07.298 1 Lap 1 Lap 86.011 1:31.525 99.907 24 90 Robert Wright/M 13 23:31.354 5 Laps 4 Laps 84.226 1:28.517 103.302 DNF 17 John LaRue/M 3 5:31.733 15 Laps 10 Laps 82.693 1:29.319 102.375 DNF 9 Jose Montiel 1 2:30.961 17 Laps 2 Laps 60.572 2:24.561 63.254 DNS 77 Fabio Orsolon 0 -.--- - - - -.--- - DQ 37 Chris Livengood 18 30:22.948 - - 90.289 1:26.155 106.134