Through a rain drenched weekend, the North American Formula 1000 championship survived rounds 3 and 4 at the historic Watkins Glen International.
With the weather looking like a repeat of opening weekend at Road Atlanta, Friday testing began with monsoon conditions and all but one driver chose to stay in the garage for test session #1. Jose Gerardo rolled out to take advantage of the wet testing and dial in the #14 G-labels Galmer, however mother nature had laid a river in turn 1 and Jose ended in the guardrail, giving the Mayer Motorsports mechanics an opportunity to show off their skills and work tirelessly to rebuild the #14 and get Jose back on track for Saturday qualifying.
As Friday testing progressed, the sun began to shine and many drivers began to roll out for test session #2 and #3. The rolling hills of upstate New York were alive with the greatest sounds in American motorsports. 1000cc superbike engines screaming up the esses and through the boot, make for a great way to spend a Friday.
Saturday the weather was perfect for racing, mid 60’s and a beautiful upstate New York spring day.
Qualifying was once again a beautiful session with times falling lap after lap. In the end Jeremy Hill would take the #00 Photon to the top of the sheets to earn the MPT Industries Pole Position for Round 3. Joining Jeremy on the front row, the defending champion in the #77 Technotecs / G-labels / Mayer Motorsports JDR – Alex Mayer. Following Jeremy and Alex to the green would be Gerardo, the #13 Sunrise Solar Solutions / Firman of Doug Hertz, newcomer to the series – #08 Nicho Vardis, Steve Hamilton in the #93 CSI Leasing / EPCusa.com / JDR, Tim Pierce in the #81 Waterfall Security Solutions / JDR, and Charles Livingston in the #33 JDR. Starting last due to no qualifying time, another newcomer to the series, Joel Haas in the #94 Parametric Solutions / Piper.
When the green flew, Jeremy Hill jumped out to an early lead and managed the race to take home his second win of 2019, and earn the Scott Young Enterprises Fastest Lap Award. Joining Jeremy on the podium would be Alex Mayer in second place and Nicho Vardis in third. Once again there was a tie for the Sunoco Hard Charger Award, with both Steve Hamilton and Tim Pierce moving up two positions.
Following the action on Saturday – series drivers, teams, family, and friends got together for the traditional Random Drawing Awards and Dinner Social. Joining the series to provide dinner for the social throughout 2019, EPCusa.com provided a spread of amazing Italian from local favorite Jerlando’s.
During the Dinner Social, every driver wins thanks to amazing random drawing CASH from Sunoco, Scott Young, Race Mirrors, Jongbloed Wheels, and HRP; plus discounts from Wulff Motorsports, Rilltech Racing, VisorCamusa.com, Rebel Gears, Sabelt America; plus race tires from Hoosier, and oil from MPT Industries. With so many prizes, it’s no wonder NorthAmF1000 continues to draw new drivers to the championship.
When drivers awoke Sunday morning, it was once again rain, rain, and more rain. A majority of drivers stayed in the garage for morning practice, but when go fast time came, Alex Mayer put on a rain clinic, putting the #77 on pole by over 7 seconds. Putting together one of those unforgettable laps, Mayer took his second MPT Industries Pole Position of 2019. Joining Alex on the front row would be Saturday’s winner Jeremy Hill, with Nicho Vardis and Tim Pierce making up row two. Steve Hamilton would be the only other car to go out in the downpour conditions, with multiple drivers staying in the garage and choosing to start on points.
When the green flag flew, Mayer jumped out to an early lead continuing his rain clinic for the F1000 field. However, behind Mayer Jeremy Hill would fall to third on the start as Nicho Vardis jumped into second place. Close to halfway a full course caution brought out the pace car due to an incident with a Formula Atlantic in the other series. Unfortunately, Steve Hamilton had just been lapped by the overall lead Atlantic and was now a lap down. Shortly after returning to green flag racing, Alex Mayer would retire with engine issues, but not before setting the Scott Young Fastest Lap Award, leaving Nicho Vardis to take home his first win in the North American Formula 1000 Championship and the Sunoco Hard Charger award. Jeremy Hill looked on pace to catch Nicho and challenge for the lead, but spun in turn 1 “refusing to settle for second place.”
Joining Nicho and Jeremy on the podium would be Tim Pierce in what is the weirdest finish the series will probably ever experience. On the last lap Tim would drop a wheel on wet grass and end up backing into the tire wall – and not taking the checkered flag. Meanwhile Hamilton, who was one lap down due to the pace car, finishes the race on the same lap… and everyone is asking “what now?” After discussions with extremely knowledgeable and experienced people (Thank you Bob Wright) the decision was made to follow what the FIA would do – and award Tim Pierce the final podium position.
What a crazy weekend. This season is turning out to be amazing to watch. And you can follow along every weekend on Facebook and Instagram – @NorthAmF1000
Stay tuned for F1000 Insider – a full weekend video recap from Rounds 3 and 4 at Watkins Glen.
Next up for NorthAmF1000 – June 28-30 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.