VIR Liberty Motorsports Wrap-Up
Liberty Motorsports commenced its pursuit of the F2000 Championship Series title this past weekend (April 10-11), with a solid outing at VIRginia International Raceway. Tim Kautz, in his Formula Ford 2000 debut with the Illinois-based team, showed superb speed and skill, finishing 15th in the season-opener and eighth in Round Two. Bobby Caldwell ensured Liberty Motorsports left the first event of the highly competitive championship with two top-10 results, finishing a strong ninth in race two of the doubleheader, after a 13th place result in the first round.
Joining a large 30+ car field in the opening event of the F2000 Championship Series, the Liberty Motorsports duo got their first chance to sample the high-speed VIR road course during pre-event testing on Thursday (April 8). While no official times were taken, it is believed both American racers were among the lead pack in all four sessions, despite focusing solely on steadily improving their cars handling each time they went on track.
Kautz, who was making his F2000 debut following a stellar run in the SCCA Formula Ford ranks the past few years, quickly showcased his skill behind the wheel in the opening practice session on Friday, posting the fifth best time. Caldwell, a class veteran who is reuniting with Liberty Motorsports after strong start to the partnership late last season, was just as impressive, turning the sixth quickest time. While both racers dropped a few places down the rankings in the afternoon's second session, Kautz and Caldwell were pleased with their progress and looking forward to two days of qualifying and racing to follow.
Saturday morning qualifying proved to be a mixed affair for both Liberty Motorsports drivers. While Kautz was able to remain in the top-10 in the session – sixth overall – he was disappointed to have not been further up the charts in his No. 36 Liberty Motorsports entry. Caldwell meanwhile struggled to find the right balance in his No. 80 Liberty Motorsports entry, battling handling issues en route to the 16th best time.
That trend continued come race time in Round One later in the day. Kautz impressed early on, joining the fight for position among the top-five, unfortunately a spin while still coming to grips with the spec series Radial tires – having previously raced solely on bias-ply tires – relegated the rookie to 15th at the checkered flag. Caldwell, continuing to battle handling issues throughout the 14-lap affair, worked his way forward to 13th when the checkered flag waved.
Qualifying for Round Two on Sunday morning featured more of the same for Kautz and Caldwell. Unable to get the desired speed and times in the session, the duo secured the eighth and 14th place on the grid for race two of the doubleheader.
Remaining upbeat and continuing to work with the Liberty Motorsports crew between sessions, Round Two commenced with both Kautz and Caldwell confident they could advance up the charts. That belief proved justified, particularly early on in the 14-lap race, as Kautz challenged for a place within the top-five and Caldwell joined the battle for positions among the top-10. Involved in heated fights for position all the way to the stripe, the teammates took the checkered flag within striking distance of one another, as Kautz finished eighth and Caldwell ninth.
"Car racing is a tough game, sometimes you show great promise and the results just don't come your way," Liberty Motorsports Team Manager Chuck Lessick commented. "That was the story of our weekend this time out. While our drivers were consistently among the fastest, we didn't bring home the results we should have. The top-10 finishes will definitely help us in the championship, and we'll continue the battle at Road Atlanta."