The Same Old Sixth
Mahopac, NY – Two F2000 Championship Series races over a four-day Road Atlanta opening weekend delivered a pair of top ten finishes, including a sixth place run on a Sunday afternoon in Georgia for Tim Paul. Heading out of rounds one and two of 14 for F2000 this year, Paul sits tied for sixth place in the F2000 points.
A full test day at the 12-turn Road Atlanta on April 10 gave teams and drivers plenty of time to get re-acclimated to their equipment after a long off season. For Paul, and the No. 06 CellMark Paper GTP Motorsports/Screaming Monkey Racing Van Diemen, it was bonus track time. The team had raced in an SCCA Majors event in Georgia just a few weeks prior.
In fact, the New Hampshire-based GTP crew, led by Glenn Phillips, left the its truck and trailer, with cars already set up and prepped, in Georgia for the few weeks between events.
After more practice on Friday, under with temperatures in the 70s throughout the weekend and no rain, Saturday morning qualifying came and went, and the Mahopac-based racer was sitting sixth for race one.
“I knew we were strong in the first race,” said Paul, “but, I make a mistake early in the race and never quite got back into rhythm.”
Not helping the case was an extremely lengthy and slow caution period, which limited green flag laps during Saturday’s 30-mintue race. Paul, a Franklin Pierce University graduate, would finish ninth to start the year.
“Sunday was a completely different story, though,” Paul continued. “We qualified eighth, which I was okay with, since we were in the top ten. The start of the race was intense and then it ended up turning into an all-out brawl between myself and three other cars.”
Paul contested the race with Jim Libecco, John McCusker and Kevin Kopp, all angling for fourth place behind a run-away lead group.
“It went back and forth every lap, up to fourth, down to seventh, it just depended on what lap we crossed the line,” Paul noted. “There is such a huge drafting area on the back straight away that it’s hard to break away once you get caught up in battles like this. Maybe one on one you can but when all the guys will line up behind you you’re a sitting duck when leading the pack. It was really fun, but we could have as easily finished fourth as where we did finish, which was sixth. I wish I could have pulled a little more out of the car and broken the draft, we would have had a fine day.”
With a solid start to the season at Road Atlanta, the next F2000 race for the SMR group is at Watkins Glen, May 16-18. In the mean time, Paul heads to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, May 2-4, with the MX5 Cup.