PALMETTO, FLA. (July 8, 2014) – First-ever victories for both Ayla Agren and Augie Lerch ensured an almost perfect weekend for Team Pelfrey when the competitive F1600 Championship Series paid its annual visit to the challenging Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in rural Ohio. Compounding the team’s joy, Garth Rickards maintained his championship points lead with a pair of top-four finishes, while Nikita Lastochkin also made a visit to the podium.
Team Pelfrey’s quartet of striking yellow-and-black Mygale-Honda F1600 cars began the weekend’s official proceedings in style as 20-year-old Norwegian-born Agren posted the fastest time during Saturday’s qualifying session, followed by teammates Rickards and Lerch.
Lastochkin had to be content with eighth on the starting grid but soon began to work his way forward as Agren and Rickards separated themselves from the pack and began a race-long battle for the win. At one stage Agren managed to extend a slight margin over her rival as both of them strove for their first F1600 triumph, but Rickards closed in again toward the checkered flag before finishing just 0.188 seconds in arrears.
The battle for third was even more intense and ended with a perfect 1-2-3-4 sweep for Team Pelfrey as Lastochkin edged Lerch for the final podium place, with Jack Mitchell Jr. and Evan Mehan also in close attendance.
Qualifying for Sunday’s race continued the trend although on this occasion it was another Mygale-Honda driver, Sam Chastain, who claimed the pole position, narrowly ahead of Agren, Rickards, Lastochkin and Lerch.
Positions changed almost constantly during a thrilling encounter on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, soon after taking the lead, Lastoshkin’s hopes of victory ended early when he tangled with Chastain at the Keyhole turn with just three laps remaining. Lerch, 17, from Tucson, Ariz., took full advantage, slipping through into the lead and taking the victory over Mitchell, Agren, Rickards and a recovering Chastain. All five were blanketed by just over one second.
Rickards, 21, from Mechanicsburg, Pa., maintained his championship lead after eight of 14 races, although Agren has closed to within just three points, 304-301, as the series heads next to the Pittsburgh International Race Complex for two more races on August 2-3.
WHAT THE DRIVERS SAID:
Nikita Lastochkin (#80 Team Pelfrey/RM Mygale-Honda) - Race One, started eighth, finished third; Race Two, started fourth, finished 17th: “Overall I am really happy with how this weekend went. I had a tough first qualifying session but I was delighted to come from eighth to finish third and the competition certainly made me work hard for it! As for race 2, qualifying was a big improvement and the race was going well until I was involved in an unfortunate incident with Sam Chastain that ended up with me being upside down. Anyway, I am taking the positives from the weekend and can’t wait for Pittsburgh.”
Ayla Agren (#81 Team Pelfrey/Energima/Women’s Sports Foundation Mygale-Honda) - Race One, started second, finished first; Race Two, started second, finished third: “It was a great weekend for the team. It shows that hard work and all of their efforts have paid off. I was very happy with the win and the third-place finish this weekend, and overall we scored fantastic points for the championship. I must thank all of the guys in the team and my partners who helped make all of this happen.”
Augie Lerch (#82 Team Pelfrey/PJ’s Performance Mygale-Honda) - Race One, started third, finished fourth; Race Two, started fifth, finished first: “I was very pleased with the results we were able to show this past weekend. I think the hard work we have put in all season truly showed. As for my first win on Sunday, it felt great to get the monkey off my back. I think we will have many more to come as long as we keep up the hard work.”
Garth Rickards (#83 Team Pelfrey/Snap 21 Mygale-Honda) - Race One, started first, finished second; Race Two, started third, finished fourth: “It was a good points weekend for us and we were definitely the quickest car on track but just couldn't catch a break. I'm focused on doing my best every weekend and I believe we will get a win if we just stay focused on our own program.”