Alton, Virginia (June 8, 2016) – The F1600 Formula F Championship Series weekend at Virginia International Raceway marked a return to form for Exclusive Autosport.
The North American Spectrum factory team produced a pair of victories, one each for drivers Trenton Estep of San Antonio, Texas, and Ben Auriemma of Manhasset, New York.
Both of the races in which Exclusive Autosport was victorious were absolute thrillers. In the Sunday morning race won by Estep, the top three cars were covered by a gap of just .062 as they rumbled toward a three-wide finish. In Sunday afternoon’s outing, which was won by Auriemma with Estep scoring a 2nd-place result, the top three cars were separated by only .053 seconds at the line. Series officials turned to video replays to declare winners in both races as they were too close to call.
The victories mark the first for each driver in F1600 Formula F competition and the first of the year for Exclusive Autosport in the series. For Auriemma, it was also his first victory in car racing competition. However, they are not the team’s first wins in 2016: these results follow a weekend sweep and a podium sweep in the season opener of Quebec’s Formula Tour 1600 at Circuit Mont-Tremblant last weekend.
“This year we’ve made some changes on the engineering and technical side of the Spectrum program, and everything has really come together over the last two weekends,” says Exclusive Autosport team principal Michael Duncalfe. “There’s never any doubt of the pace of the Spectrum car as it’s been the dominant car in North America for the past few years. But it was awesome to put it back up on top and to have taken wins in five of the last six races we’ve competed in.”
However, the weekend at VIR wasn’t without its challenges. After leading both practice sessions and charging to a dominant pole position, Estep had contact with another competitor that put him out of contention in race 1 and caused significant damage. At the same time, the team discovered that Auriemma’s engine was underpowered and would need to be swapped out.
The entire team worked tirelessly late into the night to make the necessary changes to the cars. With the pair of wins on Sunday, their efforts clearly paid off.
“I can’t say enough good things about this crew,” Duncalfe says. “They are incredibly hardworking. On their days off they come into the shop to prep cars. They never stop.
“On Saturday night, they worked until the early hours of the morning to get Trenton’s car fixed and do the engine swap on Ben’s car. The crew got two or three hours of sleep at best, but both cars were perfect for race 2 and race 3. I can’t thank them enough for their hard work and their dedication to this program.”
Next weekend, Exclusive Autosport turns its attention to its home country’s largest motorsport event of the year as the Formula Tour 1600 forms part of the undercard for the Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal from June 10 to 12. The F1600 Formula F Championship Series season continues at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course from July 1 to 3.
Exclusive Autosport F1600 Formula F Championship Series Virginia International Raceway results:
Ben Auriemma (No. 92 ACG Motorsports/Exclusive Autosport/Spectrum/Honda)
Race 1: 7th / Race 2: 6th / Race 3: 1st
"It's amazing that we were able to bring home a win after such a crazy weekend filled with mechanical issues. If this doesn't make a statement, I'm not sure what would! I can't thank the boys enough for all the extra hours they put in this weekend."
Trenton Estep (No. 90 Exclusive Autosport/Spectrum/Honda)
Race 1: DNF / Race 2: 1st / Race 3: 2nd
“It was a great weekend for me and the Exclusive Autosport guys. Coming off my first-ever weekend sweep in Mont-Tremblant, Canada, to my first race win here in the United States, I couldn't be happier with the way my first F1600 season is going. Thanks to Michael and the whole team for making it happen.”