La Rocca Puts Stamp on Season with Sweep at the Glen

October 14, 2012
La Rocca fist-pumping his 2012 season. (photo: Jose Rosado)

Watkins Glen, NY –  After momentarily getting shuffled back to fourth on an exciting opening lap, 2012 F2000 Champion Robert La Rocca picked off two cars on lap one and then passed Rob Nicholas for the lead on the next lap to open up a huge gap en route to a record-breaking 11th win of the season for HP-Tech Motorsport. It was the fourth weekend sweep of the year for the Venezuelan in the season finale doubleheader at Watkins Glen International, winning ahead of Wyatt Gooden and Nicholas.

La Rocca, in the No. 10 Van Diemen, marked his 11th win in 14 races, breaking all existing records, and also taking 12 pole positions in 14 tries throughout the year. The second-year driver only had a single DNF on the Championship effort, and also spent time in Europe in F3 during the race season, where it is rumored he will race in 2013.

“I fell back at the start, but was able to get past two of them and then take the lead back on lap two,” said La Rocca, who ran the fastest lap of the race and will officially be crowned Champion at the Series awards ceremony at Watkins Glen. “I just did qualifying laps for the race, I couldn’t be happier with this season. I had a great car all year and can’t thank the team enough.”

Moreover, the race looked similar to other La Rocca victories, with him expertly managing the race pace, but with an even bigger gap to back to second on a beautiful fall day in New York.

A 2011 rookie campaign for La Rocca was contested with HP-Tech in a RFR chassis, highlighted by a handful of podiums but a long list of incidents while running at the front of the field. In 2012, a new chassis in the Van Diemen and a winter spent racing F3 in South America turned La Rocca’s speed into a lights-out season.

For Gooden, another podium with a second place day sealed his runner-up Championship run, also notching the Rookie of the Year honors for Quantum Racing Services in his first year out of the F1600 Formula F Championship Series. Gooden had two wins on the season. Those triumphs came at Lime Rock Park and Mid-Ohio.

“That was relatively uneventful despite shifting issues with the car,” said Gooden in a post-race interview. “I just cruised to the finish, we got Rookie of the Year and that is what we came here to do this year.”

Rob Nicholas won the Masters Class by rounding out the podium on his 2012 F2000 debut for K-Fast, and pushing his way by La Rocca and Gooden to lead the first lap in the No. 89 Van Diemen.

Nicholas explained that the added speed from Saturday’s fifth place finish came from fixing understeer issues.

Completing the top five were Niki Coello, who took third place in the standings, and Zach Craigo, in a solid drive for Front Range Motorsports.

Kevin Kopp finished sixth, securing fourth in points in his debut season for the WISKO F2000 team, while Cesar Lapoint was seventh for HP-Tech, ahead of Kyle Connery, who started 15th, and Chris Livengood in a pair of RFR chassis. Sergio Pasian rounded out the top ten on his Series debut weekend.

Bringing out a full-course caution on the last lap was an incident involving Tom Fatur, Bill Jordan and Danyel Torres.

Notching the WISKO F2000 Best Start award was Kyle Connery, improving five positions on the opening lap of the 14-lap race.

For the race, the No. 27 of Watkins Glen expert Craig Clawson improved an astounding 15 places to grab the CellMark Paper Hard Charger award.

Peter Gonzalez closed out the season-long CellMark Paper Hard Charger contest by improving 71 places over the course of the year in the No. 16 Radon chassis for GTP Motorsports, and will receive a cash prize at the Series awards.

Winning the Masters Class for the year was Tim Minor in the No. 88 Ski Motorsports Citation, despite not running at Watkins Glen.

Keep track of updates regarding the F2000 Championship Series 2013 season on www.f2000series.com.

Race Results

Pos No. Name Laps Total Tm Diff Gap Avg. Speed Best Tm Best Spd 1 10 Robert LaRocca 14 26:35.691 - - 106.442 1:53.319 107.061 2 6 Wyatt Gooden 14 26:42.486 +6.795 +6.795 105.990 1:53.541 106.851 3 89 Rob Nicholas/M 14 26:52.344 +16.653 +9.858 105.342 1:54.186 106.248 4 81 Niki Coello 14 26:57.140 +21.449 +4.796 105.030 1:54.764 105.713 5 18 Zach Craigo 14 26:57.592 +21.901 +0.452 105.001 1:54.382 106.066 6 66 Kevin Kopp 14 27:05.173 +29.482 +7.581 104.511 1:54.630 105.836 7 33 Cesar Lapoint 14 27:05.316 +29.625 +0.143 104.502 1:54.580 105.882 8 91 Kyle Connery 14 27:10.533 +34.842 +5.217 104.167 1:55.224 105.291 9 37 Chris Livengood 14 27:11.198 +35.507 +0.665 104.125 1:55.083 105.420 10 64 Sergio Pasian 14 27:12.344 +36.653 +1.146 104.052 1:55.414 105.117 11 0 Keith McCrone/M 14 27:23.688 +47.997 +11.344 103.333 1:56.316 104.302 12 06 Tim Paul 14 27:27.356 +51.665 +3.668 103.103 1:55.793 104.773 13 8 David Grant 14 27:29.147 +53.456 +1.791 102.991 1:56.950 103.737 14 90 Robert Wright/M 14 27:30.688 +54.997 +1.541 102.895 1:56.332 104.288 15 67 Dave Weitzenhof/M 14 27:30.884 +55.193 +0.196 102.883 1:56.388 104.238 16 52 Dean Baker/M 14 27:33.729 +58.038 +2.845 102.706 1:55.918 104.660 17 19 John Brumder/M 14 27:41.347 +1:05.656 +7.618 102.235 1:56.373 104.251 18 22 Gustavo Rizzo 14 27:51.839 +1:16.148 +10.492 101.594 1:56.981 103.709 19 46 Doug Rocco/M 14 27:55.165 +1:19.474 +3.326 101.392 1:58.062 102.760 20 71 Steve Bamford 14 27:55.981 +1:20.290 +0.816 101.342 1:57.681 103.092 21 16 Peter Gonzalez/M 14 27:59.729 +1:24.038 +3.748 101.116 1:57.831 102.961 22 27 Craig Clawson/M 14 28:00.281 +1:24.590 +0.552 101.083 1:56.850 103.825 23 3 Matt Machiko 14 28:00.449 +1:24.758 +0.168 101.073 1:58.065 102.757 24 51 Dan Denison/M 14 28:00.551 +1:24.860 +0.102 101.067 1:57.953 102.855 25 35 Eric Presbrey 14 28:02.835 +1:27.144 +2.284 100.930 1:57.382 103.355 26 73 Vaughn Horvath 14 28:04.409 +1:28.718 +1.574 100.835 1:57.585 103.176 27 57 Scott Baroody 14 28:34.650 +1:58.959 +30.241 99.057 1:59.733 101.325 28 61 Tom Drake/M 14 28:35.804 +2:00.113 +1.154 98.990 1:59.607 101.432 29 70 Tom Fatur/M 13 25:36.214 1 Lap 1 Lap 102.665 1:56.654 104.000 30 42 Bill Jordan/M 13 25:37.017 +0.803 +0.803 102.612 1:56.388 104.238 31 39 Danyel Torres 13 25:37.657 +1.443 +0.640 102.569 1:56.474 104.161 32 9 Jose Montiel 12 27:50.499 2 Laps 1 Lap 87.150 1:58.278 102.572 33 25 Jeff McCusker/M 12 28:13.138 +22.639 +22.639 85.985 2:00.008 101.093 34 77 Chris Camadella/M 9 18:50.734 5 Laps 3 Laps 96.564 1:57.910 102.892 DNF 83 Charles Finelli 5 10:03.156 9 Laps 4 Laps 100.571 1:57.555 103.203 DNF 31 Brendan Puderbach 5 10:32.732 +29.576 +29.576 95.870 2:03.481 98.250 DNF 86 Jim Hanrahan/M 1 2:14.476 13 Laps 4 Laps 90.217 2:08.068 94.731 DNS 48 Will Haney 0 -.--- - - - -.--- - DNS 20 Matthew Inge 0 -.--- - - - -.--- - DNS 72 Thomas Schwietz/M 0 -.--- - - - -.--- - DNS 47 Chris Monteleone 0 -.--- - - - -.--- -