Strong fields featuring several potential stars of the future grabbed the headlines April 14-15 as the F1600 Formula F Championship Series kicked off its 2012 season at Virginia International Raceway.
The doubleheader race weekend featured a pair of thrilling finishes, including a four-abreast charge to the checkers on Saturday and a battle between young teammates on Sunday decided by just hundredths of a second.
Nearly a third of the 20-car starting field was made up of drivers under the age of 18, including a half-dozen karting graduates from the United States, Canada, Finland and Brazil.
In Saturday’s season-opening race, Finland’s Matias Koykka gave the Australian-built Spectrum-Honda it’s first US Formula F victory, prevailing in a four-wide charge to the finish line. Driving for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, the 17-year-old karting graduate just edged second-year F1600 race Colin Thompson.
With the 18-year-old Thompson in a Swift-Honda, Brandon Newey made it three different Honda-powered chassis in the top three positions as he rounded out the podium in his Bryan Herta Autosport Mygale, just ahead of teammate and Canadian FF graduate Garett Grist. Just 0.87 seconds covered the first four finishers.
The excitement continued in Sunday’s race 2, as Newey scored his first win, and the first American victory for the Mygale-Honda combination, after edging out teammate Grist by just 0.021 in another side-by-side finish.
Thompson rounded out the podium in third in an impressive charge through the field after an early-race spin. Joe Colasacco finished fourth in his Van Diemen-Honda, while for the second consecutive day veteran FF racer Art Foster led the Ford-powered field across the finish, in fifth with his Van Diemen. He finished sixth in Saturday’s opening race.
The introduction of the Honda L15A7 engine into Formula F has induced karters to move up and challenge themselves in automotive competition. The engine’s relatively low per-mile running costs have made car racing more affordable than ever before. This past weekend, the Honda Fit-based Formula F engine was found in six different chassis, ranging from the new Spectrum and Mygales to the popular Swift and Van Diemen. Even Andy Brumbaugh’s 30-year-old Crossle 35F was converted from Ford to Honda power for the 2012 season.
The 10-race, eastern U.S.-based F1600 Formula F Championship Series continues with Rounds 3-4 at the historic Lime Rock Park circuit on May 24-26. On the west coast, the Corsa Car Care presents Pacific Formula F Super Series continues with its second double-header race weekend of 2012 April 26-29 at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah.