Robichon Makes F2000 Debut For BGR Team Grote
After two season of winning races with BGR Team Grote in the highly rated Toyo Tires F1600 Championship, Zacharie Robichon got his first taste of the next step as he made his debut at the season finale for the F2000 Championship Series held at Watkins Glen . It was Zach’s first trip to the former home of the USGP and historic race course. It was a jump right into the deep end with no test day and just two Friday practice sessions to not only learn the track but the car as well. It was also his first race on slick tires as the choice of tire in Canada’s F1600 series is a street radial tire. A full field of 27 drivers took to the track and Zach set about the job at hand. A few black flags during the two sessions cut the time down a bit but at days end Zach had set the 11th fastest lap and was getting quicker with every lap.
Saturday arrived with clear skies and cool temperatures and qualifying was the next task for the team and the young rookie. A goal time was set for the session as laps were the key to getting better as both the team and driver were learning what was needed to improve. Getting clear laps proved to be difficult and once again the black flag interrupted the session but the goal time was reached although that proved to be not enough as Zach ended his first F2000 qualifying session in the 15th spot. Still, the team was pleased as it was a very tight grid where ½ a second would have moved him well into the top ten. The race began with Zach making up a few spots immediately and then he set after the next few cars. He made steady progress and moved to 11th and started closing the gap to the group of racers fighting for the 8-10th spots but the progress was halted as the front tires gave up and his lap times began to suffer. He fought to keep pace but ultimately he fell back and actually ended up right where he started in 15th.
The team was also making their return to the series after several seasons away concentrating on their F1600 program. There was much to learn as it was a new tire to them. After the Saturday event they used what they learned over the 4 sessions to make some dramatic changes for the Sunday qualifying. The changes proved to be the right way to go and the proof was in the stop watch. Zach lined up in 9th for the second race and the team was confident he would have a car to go the full distance at speed with the new set up. A great start saw a jump up the order at the end of the first lap to 7th. A full course yellow interrupted the proceedings but it was a brief delay and the race then ran green to the checkers. A few attempts at the 6th place car were made with Zach keeping the pressure on but being careful not to use up the front tires. A gap between each position in the top 10 developed and a very well earned 7th place finish was the reward for the team and driver.
“It was great to be back in the F2000 paddock and see so many familiar faces. We have fond memories of our time with the series and look forward to 2015 and being back with a full time effort. Zach did an outstanding job and made progress each session without ever putting a wheel wrong. We struggled a bit coming to grips with the new to us tires, but think we made the right changes to help Zach on the Sunday. Thanks to John Walko for the support over the weekend and great advice as always. Each driver that finished ahead of us on Sunday has either won a race this year or at least been on the podium so we are pleased to be so close to that group on our return. Our box stock VD performed great all weekend and turned its first laps since 2011!” comments team owner Brian Graham.
“Watkins Glen was my first time in an f2000 car and I couldn’t believe how much progress we made and how much we learnt in such a short amount of time. With virtually no test day the BGR crew and I had to get up to speed quickly with not only the track but also the F2000 car. On the Saturday I learnt first hand how quickly you can ruin a set of slick tires! The team and I used what we learnt on Saturday to improve the car for Sunday and followed up our top 10 qualifying with a 7th place result. We came a long way in a short amount of time at WGI and I can’t wait to get some more time in the F2000 car! I can’t thank the BGR crew enough for always giving me the tools I need to perform at every event I enter.” Commented Zacharie Robichon.
Some off season testing is next for the busy team with both the F2000 and F1600 cars. The team is looking to make a full time return to the F2000 Championship Series and hopes to run a two car team and of course continue their winning ways in the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship with their 3 new Piper DL7/Honda’s. BGR is the Canadian distributor for Piper Race Cars and just recently debuted the DL7 chassis and it is already a winner for them. Drivers interested in testing with the team are encouraged to contact them through the team website.