Pole and Podiums but not Much Luck for Team Pelfrey at Watkins Glen
Team Pelfrey’s trio of drivers showed excellent speed when the F1600 Formula F Championship Series visited the historic Watkins Glen International road course last weekend. The familiar yellow-and-black Mygale-Hondas ran consistently at the “sharp end” of an intensely competitive field, although a string of minor misfortunes restricted them to a best finish of third for Robert Megennis in Race Three. Teammates Andrew Hobbs and Ben Auriemma each had to be content with a fourth-place result.
The weekend represented a fine comeback for Megennis, 15, from New York, N.Y., who had been forced to withdraw from the first weekend at Road Atlanta last month following a heavy crash accident. The complete rebuilt of his car wasn’t completed until just before qualifying at the Glen, whereupon he was restricted to just a handful of laps by a lengthy red-flag stoppage. Megennis drove a fine race, rising to sixth at the checkered flag. He was also credited with the second fastest race lap, ensuring him of a front row starting position for Race Two.
Hobbs, who qualified on the front row, led the early stages of Race One and remained among a large pack of cars in contention for the win until being forced to take evasive action when two rivals collided in front of him. He recovered to fourth, only a half-second behind the winner, with Auriemma hot on his heels in fifth.
Megennis, Auriemma and Hobbs lined up respectively second, third and fourth for Race Two, with Megennis taking the lead at the start. Unfortunately, he held it only until Turn Six, where he was involved in an incident with Race One winner Austin Mack. Hobbs had an eventful race, leading in the early stages, then falling back into the pack before fighting his way back to sixth and earning the fastest lap of the race – and with it the pole for Race Three. Auriemma also ran well, involved in the lead pack throughout before finishing fourth, although he was later penalized three positions for short-cutting the course at the chicane while attempting to avoid contact with another car.
The Pelfrey cars also played prominent roles in the third and final race of the weekend. Hobbs led much of the way before tangling with Thomas McGregor, while Megennis and Auriemma took third and fourth, both of them finishing less than a half-second behind race-winning Australian Scott Andrews.
Team Pelfrey will switch its attention to Indianapolis this weekend, contesting both the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires at Lucas Oil Raceway as part of the #MRTI FreedomFest activities leading up to the 99th Indianapolis 500. Two weeks later, on June 6-7, the F1600 Formula F Championship Series will continue with another triple-header event at Virginia International Raceway, where Team Pelfrey will field a fourth Mygale-Honda for highly rated British karting standout Jordan Cane, who will celebrate his 14th birthday on May 23 and thereafter be eligible to compete in the SCCA-sanctioned series.
WHAT THE DRIVERS SAID:
Robert Megennis (#80 Team Pelfrey/Relayrides Mygale-Honda) - Race One, started 14th, finished sixth; Race Two, started second, finished 15th; Race Three, started fifth, finished third: “Watkins Glen was a great weekend. The team worked super-hard and got me a car made of spare parts. We were fast, and I hope to continue this momentum into VIR. Thanks to Team Pelfrey for providing me a car that could fight at the front.”
Ben Auriemma (#82 Team Pelfrey/ACG Motorsports Mygale-Honda) - Race One, started fourth, finished fifth; Race Two, started third, finished seventh; Race Three, started fourth, finished fourth: “I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hoping for slightly better results but I have to be realistic and recognize that it was overall a very solid weekend. We're building momentum on the season and collecting good points. I need to focus on making zero mistakes so I can capitalize when the opportunity to be on the podium is there, and keep bringing in solid points when the opportunity isn't there. It's a pretty significant change in my mindset going into the VIR races, but I'm still confident in my driving, and confident that I can bring in the results that I'm looking for.”
Andrew Hobbs (#83 Team Pelfrey/Pulse/Master Tech/David Hobbs Honda Mygale-Honda) - Race One, started second, finished fourth; Race Two, started fourth, finished sixth; Race Three, started first, finished 18th/DNF: “It was another tough weekend mentally for me. We keep proving that we're perhaps the fastest car in the field but things don't seem to go our way. After leading all three races, it's really frustrating because the speed is always there. The team did an awesome job as always and I just hope I can give us the results we area capable of earning at VIR.”