Scarallo Leads Road America Practice
Elkhart Lake, WI – Friday saw a busy day of practice for the F2000 Championship Series teams as three separate practice sessions and an abundance of track time at Road America saw Keith McCrone, Daniel Erickson and then McCrone’s R-Sport teammate, Jonathan Scarallo post fast times on a beautiful day in Wisconsin. Long straights and high-speed, high-downforce corners left teams searching for the perfect aero balance with Scarallo taking fast time of the day at 2:15.455, under the existing track record for the F2000 series by just about a tenth.
R-Sport put both their entries in the top three in the morning session, with Keith McCrone going fastest and then capitalized in the closing minutes of the day to have Jonathan Scarallo a full tenth up on the track record.
“This track is really cool, every corner has character to it,” Scarallo, who had never driven the track until today, commented. “The lap time at the end feels good, it’s nice to finally top the time sheets. Now we have to go look at the data, see where we can find some more time and hopefully do it again for qualifying,” continued the young American.
Championship leader Victor Carbone had a low-key day, placing fourth, fourth and fifth. But, in the run to the end of the season, did everything he needed to do by keeping his Alegra Motorsports #23 ahead of Cole Morgan’s #1 on the time sheets.
Carbone commented: “Today went pretty well and we are still working on the setup. This is a bit tricky because the downforce levels can be so varied. The wind can also be sort of interesting along the straights.”
Carbone, who has won five of 10 races this year, hit the nail on the head as the word of the weekend in the paddock seems to be “aero”. The Alegra Motorsports crew actually changed rear wings between sessions, bolting on a new piece for the last session of the day in hopes of gaining back some ground.
Teams were looking for that perfect balance of top-end speed for Road America’s long straights and downforce for the track’s fast corners.
2007 title winner Cole Morgan, who needs to chase down Carbone in the race to the 2010 title, had a challenging day in Wisconsin, notching the 11th, 12th and 11th fastest times, respectively.
Carbone’s teammate, Fabio Orsolon showed to be quick as well. The young Brazilian set the fifth, fourth and seventh quickest laps of Friday.
Masters Class driver Keith McCrone paced the first session of the weekend for R-Sport ahead of Daniel Erickson and Jonathan Scarallo. Notably, both R-Sport cars are running a very stock Van Diemen aero package on the 14-corner road course.
McCrone is coming off an eventful weekend at Lime Rock Park. In qualifying one, McCrone put his R-Sport Van Diemen on the provisional pole and just a few feet later, had a huge crash in turn one. He recovered to finish fourth in race one and then came from the back of the pack to log a 13th place effort in race two.
“I haven’t been to Road America in 18 years and it’s good to be back,” said McCrone. “It’s just a great track and a good way to bounce back from Lime Rock, and to continue our momentum.” Unfortunately the rest of the day didn’t go as well as practice one as McCrone battled an overheating Zetec and then a flat tire in the afternoon sessions.
Daniel Erickson saw Road America for his first time in the morning session, putting his Primus Racing/Quantum Mechanics Van Diemen second on the speed charts before topping the first afternoon session with a lap only one tenth off the track record set in 2008 at 2:15.544. The Australian recently received an important endorsement from the Australian Motor Sport Foundation.
“I’m really pleased,” said Erickson. “The brake pedal went to the floor so we didn’t get many laps in but the car is good and there is more speed left in it before qualifying tomorrow.”
The Primus Racing/Quantum Mechanics driver is also running a new upper-rear wing element, highlighting some of the aero wars going on in the paddock at Road America.
Phil Lombardi battled handling problems in his #3 GTP Motorsports Van Diemen. The veteran driver, who is still in the race for the series title, said: “I’m scratching my head. This is the worst handling race car I’ve driven in 25 years. It’s fast in a straight line but there are a lot of handling gremlins to work out.” Lombardi notched the ninth, 15th and 14th fastest times.
Mikhail Goikhberg, driving for JDC MotorSports posted the sixth fastest time in the morning session, backing that up with a second place effort in the early afternoon practice, which saw a bit of a delay to clean up Bill Jordan’s crash. The Russian driver backed that up with another second place time in the last session of the day.
The Race House’s Stevan McAleer is coming off a strong second place at Lime Rock and was eighth quickest in practice one. The Scottish rookie, in his third F2000 event of the year, commented: “We’re trying some different things, especially with the setup. We started today with zero downforce and are working from there. Erickson got by me, and he is quick, but after watching him there is no reason I should be behind him.”
McAleer’s teammate, Tim Paul, in the #06 SMR Van Diemen is bouncing back from a huge crash at Lime Rock and is in the team’s backup chassis for Road America.
The rookie said: “We changed the steering rack between sessions which made things a bit better but the alignment was still off so I only got one lap in the second session. It feels good to be back in the saddle.”
Chris Gumprecht also showed some pace at a track he has a lot of laps around, placing 10th, ninth and sixth on the time sheets in his St. Clair Motorsports #97 Van Diemen before an off-track excursion ended his day.
Work Racing battled overheating problems in the #37 driven by Chris Livengood. The 1999 Van Diemen chassis has a brand new Zetec motor this weekend. “The car feels great but we’ve got a temperature issue,” said Livengood, who was fifth quick in the second practice session and fourth quick in the final run of the day. “We get one flying lap and then back in again with the overheating light. This track is about one minute and 50 seconds of sitting and then 20 or 30 seconds of intense cornering, it’s pretty wild.”
F2000 action from Road America continues tomorrow with qualifying at 11:15 am local time for the 26-car field, with an estimated race start time of 4:30 pm. All times are GMT -6.
Links to timesheets