La Rocca Sweeps Atlanta

May 12, 2012
La Rocca out front at Road Atlanta. (photo: Valet)

Braselton, GA – Robert La Rocca remained perfect, with four wins in four starts in the 2012 F2000 Championship Series, sweeping the Road Atlanta weekend with a win on Saturday morning in the No. 10 HP-Tech Motorsport Van Diemen. La Rocca fought back from a challenge on the start, heading four wide into turn one, and another from Wyatt Gooden on a restart, and separated himself from the pack twice, setting fastest lap, to win over Kyle Connery and Gooden.

La Rocca started from pole and ran consistent laps during the race, at one point lapping in the 1:24.4 range consistently and building a lead of some five seconds before the checkered flags fell on round four of the 2012 campaign in Georgia. The Venezuelan also adds to what is becoming a considerable points lead.

“I don’t know what to say,” noted La Rocca, racing in his second year of F2000, on his fourth win in less than a month. “All the credit goes to HP-Tech, they have given me such a good car. The restarts were fun this weekend but I just put my head down and drove.”

Connery, the 2011 rookie of the year, notched his best result of the season with a strong second place run, fighting off Gooden during the race.

“Little by little we are improving,” said the 21 year old. “I was worried after qualifying just fifth but we didn’t make any changes to the car and it was great battling with Wyatt and Fabio (Orsolon). That was some good clean racing here.”

Connery, as has been noted all weekend, campaigned the Van Diemen for both races, switching over from the RFR chassis for CC Autosport and James Lee Racing.

Gooden completed the podium in another Van Diemen for Quantum Racing Services, pulling into victory lane with a considerable amount of dirt on the No. 6, and reported contact with Connery by corner workers around the 2.54-mile track.

“On that restart I learned you can’t go around the outside in turn one,” explained Gooden, who led a bit for the second straight day. “It was a lot of hard work to get back on the podium at the end.”

Gooden was referring to making up ground in the closing stages, having fallen back to fifth while battling with Connery, after challenging La Rocca for the lead, the rookie bounced back for Quantum Racing Services, driving back to third place.

Tim Minor won the Masters Class for the second straight day, finishing fourth for Ski Motorsports in the Citation No. 88.

Niki Coello rounded out the top five in the No. 81 RFR, ahead of Tim Paul, Kevin Kopp, Zach Craigo, Dave Weitzenhof and Chris Livengood.

Livengood climbed through the field after going off the track in the opening part of the race, which featured one short caution period to retrieve his teammate, Charles Finelli, who had stalled on course.

Finishing 11th was Gerald Kraut, earning the CellMark Paper Hard Charger, starting 26th and moving through the field at an impressive clip for JDC Motorsports.

La Rocca’s HP-Tech teammate, Jose Montiel, finished 14th in the team’s No. 9 RFR after battling engine problems on Friday.

John LaRue did not make the start after crashing in Friday’s race. Nathan Morcom also missed the start.

Fabio Orsolon’s Radon looked set to challenge for podium honors at Road Atlanta before being sidelined with rear suspension damage.

The F2000 Championship Series resumes with rounds five and six at Lime Rock Park, May 25-26.

Race Results:

Pos No. Name Laps Total Tm Diff Gap Avg. Speed Best Tm Best Spd 1 10 Robert LaRocca 18 28:04.677 - - 97.699 1:24.404 108.336 2 91 Kyle Connery 18 28:10.310 +5.633 +5.633 97.374 1:25.010 107.564 3 6 Wyatt Gooden 18 28:13.756 +9.079 +3.446 97.176 1:25.056 107.506 4 88 Tim Minor/M 18 28:14.859 +10.182 +1.103 97.113 1:26.046 106.269 5 81 Niki Coello 18 28:15.036 +10.359 +0.177 97.102 1:25.737 106.652 6 06 Tim Paul 18 28:17.469 +12.792 +2.433 96.963 1:26.129 106.166 7 66 Kevin Kopp 18 28:17.892 +13.215 +0.423 96.939 1:25.879 106.475 8 18 Zach Craigo 18 28:19.086 +14.409 +1.194 96.871 1:26.428 105.799 9 67 Dave Weitzenhof/M 18 28:19.361 +14.684 +0.275 96.855 1:26.673 105.500 10 37 Chris Livengood 18 28:19.923 +15.246 +0.562 96.823 1:26.701 105.466 11 55 Gerald Kraut/M 18 28:20.429 +15.752 +0.506 96.794 1:26.601 105.588 12 72 Thomas Schwietz/M 18 28:22.664 +17.987 +2.235 96.667 1:27.080 105.007 13 8 Mark Defer/M 18 28:22.772 +18.095 +0.108 96.661 1:27.422 104.596 14 9 Jose Montiel 18 28:24.293 +19.616 +1.521 96.575 1:27.073 105.015 15 42 Bill Jordan/M 18 28:26.990 +22.313 +2.697 96.422 1:27.903 104.024 16 16 Peter Gonzalez/M 18 28:29.263 +24.586 +2.273 96.294 1:27.680 104.288 17 19 John Brumder/M 18 28:29.591 +24.914 +0.328 96.276 1:27.970 103.945 18 56 Steve Coates 18 28:37.774 +33.097 +8.183 95.817 1:27.938 103.982 19 35 Eric Presbrey 18 28:38.472 +33.795 +0.698 95.778 1:28.354 103.493 20 51 Dan Denison/M 18 29:14.434 +1:09.757 +35.962 93.815 1:27.243 104.811 21 31 Brendan Puderbach 17 28:42.674 1 Lap 1 Lap 90.236 1:29.479 102.192 22 14 Jose Gerardo/M 15 28:31.718 3 Laps 2 Laps 80.130 1:27.574 104.415 23 83 Charles Finelli/M 9 13:28.414 9 Laps 6 Laps 101.799 1:27.952 103.966 DNF 90 Robert Wright/M 6 9:25.902 12 Laps 3 Laps 96.950 1:30.010 101.589 DNF 77 Fabio Orsolon 4 5:49.886 14 Laps 2 Laps 104.537 1:25.570 106.860 DNF 7 Brent Gilkes/M 3 4:34.084 15 Laps 1 Lap 100.086 1:27.632 104.345 DNS 1 Nathan Marcom 0 -.--- - - - -.--- -