Team Pelfrey’s Agren, Rickards Will Take F1600 Title Chase to the Wire
PALMETTO, FLA. (September 3, 2014) – Last weekend’s pair of races at the newly reconfigured Thompson Speedway Road Course in Connecticut saw Team Pelfrey drivers Ayla Agren and Garth Rickards continue their battle for supremacy in the F1600 Championship Series which will be decided at next month’s Watkins Glen season finale.
Race One on Saturday began with Rickards and Agren sharing the second row of the grid, with teammates Nikita Lastochkin and Augie Lerch starting sixth and eighth, respectively. Agren soon worked her way into second, behind polesitter Evan Mehan, and maintained her position to the finish ahead of title rival Rickards. Lerch posted another strong run by climbing to fifth, right on the tail of front row qualifier Sam Chastain, while Lastochkin overcame an early error to finish seventh.
Race Two was a classic F1600 affair with nothing to choose between the leading contenders. Mehan’s hopes of a double victory ended when he tangled with veteran Steve Bamford on Lap 9, leaving four cars battling tooth-and-nail for the race win. Agren worked her way impressively to second place after running as low as sixth in the early stages, only to tangle with Jack Mitchell Jr. on the final lap. Rickards squeaked through a gap to claim another podium finish – his eighth of the season – while Agren recovered to sixth, narrowly ahead of Lerch. Lastochkin took fourth.
The results leave Agren with the points lead, 466-428 over Rickards, prior to the final weekend at Watkins Glen International on October 10/11. However, the final tally will require each driver to “drop” their two worst results, which, following Rickards’ retirement from Race Two last month at Pittsburgh International, currently shows Agren with a reduced 12-point margin, 408-396, over her teammate.
WHAT THE DRIVERS SAID:
Nikita Lastochkin (#80 Team Pelfrey/RM Mygale-Honda) - Race One, started sixth, finished seventh; Race Two, started ninth, finished fourth: “It was a good weekend and I was able to learn a lot. In the first race I had a good comeback after I made a small mistake and had to fight my way back through the field. The second race was more of accident avoidance, which left me with a pretty big gap to the front pack at the start. I still managed to finish high up, and I am very excited to finish the season on a good note at the Glen.”
Ayla Agren (#81 Team Pelfrey/Energima/Women’s Sports Foundation Mygale-Honda) - Race One, started fourth, finished second; Race Two, started third, finished sixth: “Another solid weekend for Team Pelfrey. We showed again that we've got the speed and the determination to win races. Race One we got a second-place finish right on the bumper behind the winner, and in Race Two we were there all the way until the end, and finished P6 after an unfortunate incident. We are still working hard and will come back even harder at Watkins Glen and fight for the championship win.”
Augie Lerch (#82 Team Pelfrey/PJ’s Performance Mygale-Honda) - Race One, started eighth, finished fifth; Race Two, started eighth, finished seventh: “It was an up-and-down weekend that started off quite tough. I didn’t qualify that well but I made up a lot of ground in both of the races and the speed was much better. A little disappointing not to come out with more podiums but I have learned a lot which was very positive. Really looking forward to Watkins Glen which I enjoyed earlier in the season, and I am confident of a strong result.”
Garth Rickards (#83 Team Pelfrey/Snap 21 Mygale-Honda) - Race One, started third, finished third; Race Two, started seventh, finished second: “I think this weekend shows why we are championship contenders because we faced some very challenging issues and still fought our way on to the podium. Practice and testing went well but the track was so hard on tires and changed so much throughout the weekend which kept us on our toes. I feel like I have good momentum leading to the season closer at Watkins Glen and I am ready to race hard and fight for the title.”