Lime Rock Park Preview
New York, NY – The F2000 Championship Series heads to Lime Rock Park this weekend for rounds three and four of the 2009 season. The F2000 Series last visited the Connecticut track in 2007 for the season finale which saw Cole Morgan take the championship crown by winning both races on the challenging seven-turn 1.53 mile circuit.
Since then Lime Rock has been repaved and seen facilities upgrades. The standing F2000 track record of 51.400 seconds set in 2007 by Cole Morgan is expected to fall considerably this weekend as the 30-car field takes to the newly paved track on their spec Hoosier tires.
Many eyes will be on Canadian Remy Audette, who currently sits at the top of the points standings. Audette shattered the VIR track record six weeks ago and went on to log second and third place finishes in rounds one and two of the season which has given him the championship points lead.
Just seven points behind Audette is St. Clair Motorsports driver Matthew Inge, who missed out on winning round two at VIR by a tenth of a second despite getting alongside Chris Miller multiple times for the lead in the closing stages of the race and setting fast lap. St. Clair Motorsports fielded Cole Morgan en route to his 2007 championship and sweep of Lime Rock events.
“Lime Rock is a fast track and it fits my driving style perfectly,” said Matthew Inge. “We know the team has what it takes to win here and I am eager to get my first win. The competition thus far has been challenging, but I am confident in Rob and St. Clair Motorsports to put together a winning package. We will definitely give it our all.”
American Chris Miller is sitting fifth in points due to an on-track incident in the rain at VIR with Matthew Inge during round one. Miller fired back the following day taking pole at the last second during morning qualifying and then going on to win the action packed race. Miller and his JDC Motorsports team are favorites along with Inge and Audette to win at Lime Rock.
Jesse Yorio and his Piper chassis finished third at Lime Rock in 2007 and showed tremendous speed at VIR despite being forced out of race one on slicks in the rain.
"VIR was a great run for us relative to last year. Our work over the winter improved many problems and got us back to the front running pace. We're making further improvements for Lime Rock and with my three podiums there I think we'll be in the hunt for the win,” commented Yorio.
Another storyline that will be in play this weekend is the short, tight race track. The 1.53 mile circuit is expected to be jammed with more than 30 F2000 cars, which means the leaders will have to deal with slower traffic. The veterans should have a leg up on the rookies as the races develop and the leaders catch up to the lapped cars.
“As far as the races go, I do believe that there will be a lot of traffic to deal with. One just hopes that the back markers are heads up and use good judgment,” explained Lime Rock veteran Phil Lombardi, who currently sits third in the F2000 standings. “I've always been very decisive in traffic and that's not going to change anytime soon. I hope to be the first one to encounter traffic in both races.
“Lime Rock is a unique track in the fact that you have three high speed sweepers in a row and it's not just getting the car right. It takes big balls and precision to go fast here and I am very comfortable living on the edge.”
It’s no secret in the F2000 paddock that many of the series veterans look forward to being able to compete with up-and-coming open wheel stars. “I know that there are some fast young guys, but they’re no faster than me and I can tell you with complete honesty that no one wants it more, or works harder to be in the series, than me. There is still a lot of fight left in me and I aim to prove it,” said Lombardi.
During the six week break between VIR and Lime Rock some teams took the opportunity to test at the very unique circuit in Connecticut. An unofficial May 5th test day at Lime Rock in the rain produced five F2000 cars. The day saw John Dole, Blake Teeter, championship points leader Remy Audette and the Alegra duo of Victor Carbone and Fabio Orsolon all log miles in the wet.
Orsolon commented, “Victor (Carbone) and I did about 70 laps in the rain at Lime Rock. It was a productive day for us as we got more seat time. We were fast even though it was raining and it gives me a lot of confidence going into the weekend.
“The cars were great during the test and I am very happy with Alegra. We are going to have a fast car for the race. The team has made a lot of progress on the cars in the past weeks and we will be ready to battle at Lime Rock, wet or dry.”
Making their 2009 debuts this weekend are Christopher Burke, John Dole, Chris Fahan, Paul Farmer and Charles Finelli.
Group A Racing is hoping to build on a strong race two result at VIR which saw Colin Alexander finish ninth and teammate Jonathan Scarallo miss out on the top ten by just a couple hundredths of a second to Caitlin Johnston to settle for 11th. Group A Racing has since done a tremendous amount of work to both cars and hopes to raise their game this weekend at Lime Rock.
Long Island native Jonathan Scarallo is carrying on a family tradition of racing at Lime Rock on Memorial Day. Brother Joey was a fixture on the Trans-Am entry list and now races in World Challenge. Jonathan commented: “I have been to Lime Rock many times on Memorial Day weekend to watch my brother race, so I am really looking forward to racing there for my first time this weekend. I think with all the problems my team has sorted out of my car we will be in contention for the some good results."
Z-Sports rookie teammates Caitlin Johnston and Benjamin Searcy hope to continue the success they saw at VIR this coming weekend at Lime Rock. Canadian Johnston is coming off a strong fifth place finish two weeks ago at Mosport in the Ontario Formula Ford Challenge, backing up her top-10 in round two of the 2009 F2000 season at VIR.
Meanwhile Searcy hopes to build upon his win in round one at VIR in the rain, “I am very excited about Lime Rock after the win in VIR however I did dig myself a little hole by DNFing the second race so there is some ground to be made up,” explained Searcy. “Lime Rock is a very fast track with no technical section so it’s more of a rhythm track than VIR this should make for some really good racing as the times will be a lot closer.”
Known as the “Road Racing Center of the East”, Lime Rock Park is able to tap both the New York and Northeast markets to fill the hillsides around the track during premiere weekends such as Memorial Day. Along with F2000, which is expected to be the show of the weekend, fans will be able to enjoy the Grand-Am Koni Challenge as well as Historic F1.
F2000 track activities get underway on Friday with practice. Both Saturday and Monday will feature a qualifying session and 30-minute race. There is no on-track activity on Sunday at Lime Rock due to local ordinances.
F2000ChampionshipSeries.com will feature live commentary, up-to-the minute results, stories, pictures and more throughout the race weekend.