Herta Claims Seventh Victory of Season, O’Ward Takes His Maiden Win
Buttonwillow, Calif. – Round Eleven of the Pacific Formula F1600/F2000 Championship Series saw Colton Herta take his seventh win of the season after a race long battle with team mate Joey Bickers in the Formula F1600 group in the early afternoon race while newcomer Patricio O’Ward breezed to his first F2000 group victory, leading Bob Negron and Ira Fierberg to the checkered flag in the Formula F2000 group at Buttonwillow Raceway Park on Saturday in Buttonwillow, California. The series will be part of the Vintage Auto Racing Association’s Oktoberfest weekend.
|F1600 winner Colton Herta leads Joey Bickers|
The Formula F1600 group was facing the challenge of adapting to a new tire as a switch was made from the Hoosier to the Toyo R888 radial tire for the balance of the season. The tire thought to be roughly three seconds per lap slower gives greater longevity and consistency.
Qualifying began at 8:30am under clear, sunny and warm conditions and as it had all season, the battle for the pole position was down the two PR1 Motorsports team mates, Colton Herta in the #98, PR1 Motorsports w/BHA Curb-Agajanian entry sponsored by DVS shoe Company, Curb Records, Mygale N. America, OMP, Bell Helmets, Penske Shocks, Mygale/Honda and Joey Bickers #34, PR1 Motorsports Mygale/Honda and when the session was concluded, the F1600 group pole was won by Herta just edging Bickers by with a lap of 1:53.390, just .108 of a second ahead. This pair was followed by the Lynx Racing duo of Alex Keyes #32, Spectrum/Honda and Andrew Evans, #19 Spectrum/Honda, Sage Marie, #93, Honda Racing,HPD, Piper/Honda, returning to the series and newcomer Mike McCarthy #89, Bertram Ink, H & M Motorsports, Mygale/Honda.
The F2000 group was led by Patricio O’Ward, a new addition to the series in the #6 POW Motorsports, Pequeneces, DFR Van Diemen who lapped the 2.920 mile circuit at 1:43.228. Bob Negron in the #9,Terri Negron Web Design, fengshuimebaby.com, Van Diemen was second followed by Ira Fierberg in his #27, Pinnacle Performance, Sparco USA, DFR, Van Diemen, Peter West, #99, Frank Monise Motors, Zombo.com, Kodenko Jeans, T.J. Martell Foundation, DFR Van Diemen, Jim Stewart, back in his familiar #38, True Ventures, Van Diemen, series veteran Peter Hastrup in the #62, Western Building Materials, DFR Van Diemen and series leader Tom Hope, #18, H&M Racing, Dart, Carbir, having managed just one lap.
The race was scheduled to begin at 12:30pm and with temperatures approaching 100 degrees the drivers set out on the pace lap and when the green flag fell it was newcomer O’Ward who seized the lead from Negron, West, Fierberg, Stewart, Hastrup and Hope who retired at the end of the lap without oil pressure.
O’Ward continued to lead comfortably from Negron who was pulling away from West. West was closely followed by Fierberg with Stewart and Hastrup slowly losing ground.
The order remained static until lap seven when Fierberg found his way past West and set off after Negron in second. Fierberg worked hard to try to close the gap to Negron.
When the checkered flag fell it was Patricio O’Ward cruising home to a well deserved victory in his debut in the series. O’Ward maintained a comfortable gap throughout and finished over 5 seconds ahead of second place. O’Ward also earned the fastest race lap.
Bob Negron did all he could to maintain the pace of O’Ward but from the drop of the green flag O’Ward was able ease his way ahead. Negron’s second place finish coupled with Hope’s retirement enabled Negron to take a slim lead in the points and give him the Master Class victory.
Fierberg finished third and was closing the gap to Negron but rued the time spent behind West and felt that cost him the opportunity to challenge Negron.
West crossed the line in fourth place but was dropped one position for jumping the start and finished in fifth behind Stewart, who had a trouble free run to fourth place.
Hastrup in his return to the series finished sixth.
As the Formula F1600 group took the green flag it was Herta who claimed the lead followed by Bickers, Keyes, Marie, McCarthy and Evans who had gone off track briefly but returned and began his charge up through the field.
Bickers passed Herta to lead lap two as this pair continued their season long duel. The lead changed hands at the line three more times with several position changes taking place throughout each lap as the drivers measured each other as they prepared their strategies and positioning for the final lap charge to the finish. At the checkered flag it was Herta taking another narrow victory over Bickers who had bobbled slightly in the final corner. Bickers’ effort was rewarded with the fastest race lap
Behind the Bickers/Herta battle it was Lynx Racing’s Alex Keyes with a strong run to third place managing to keep the leaders in view for most of the race as his pace in the car is continually improving.
Andrew Evans stormed back from last place first getting by McCarthy and finally Marie to take fourth place.
Sage Marie drove his Piper to fifth place earning the Expert Class in his return to the series and was followed by McCarthy in the Mygale in sixth place in his series debut.
Round twelve is schedule to start at 9:15am Sunday morning.
The single-seat, open-wheel F2000 cars are powered by 2-liter Ford Zetec engines and run on Hankook tires supplied by Sierra Tire. The F1600 cars will be powered by either the 1500cc Honda Fit engine or the 1600cc Ford ‘Kent’ engine and will run on Toyo tires.
F1600 Qualifying (round 11): 1. Colton Herta (Mygale/Honda); 2. Joey Bickers (Mygale/Honda); 3. Alex Keyes, (Spectrum/Honda); 4. Andrew Evans (Spectrum/Honda); 5. Sage Marie (Piper/Honda); 6. Mike McCarthy (Mygale SJ04/Honda).
F1600 Round 11 (14 laps): 1. Herta; 2. Bickers; 3. Keyes; 4. Evans; 5. Marie; 6. McCarthy.
F2000 Qualifying (round 11): 1. Patricio O’Ward (Van Diemen; 2. Bob Negron (Van Diemen); 3. Ira Fierberg (Van Diemen); 4. Peter West (Van Diemen); 5. Jim Stewart (Van Diemen); 6. Peter Hastrup (Van Diemen); 7. Tom Hope (Carbir).
F2000 Round 11 (14 laps): 1. O’Ward; 2. Negron, +5.620s; 3. Fierberg, +9.763s; 4. Stewart, +39.739s; 5. *West, +22.714s; 6. Hastrup, +1:19.276s; 7. Hope, +13 laps. *West penalized one position for jumping the start.
Fastest race lap: F1600 Bickers, 1m54.997s. F2000 O’Ward, 1m44.689s.
Expert class winner (over 35): F1600 Marie, F2000 None.
Master class winner (over 50): F2000 Negron.