James Hinchcliffe pulls double duty in the F2000 car and his karting machine TORONTO, ON. (SEPTEMBER 30, 2003) Oakville, Ontario's racing sensation James Hinchcliffe, pulled double duty this past weekend by competing in both the final rounds...
James Hinchcliffe pulls double duty in the F2000 car and his karting machine
TORONTO, ON. (SEPTEMBER 30, 2003) Oakville, Ontario's racing sensation James Hinchcliffe, pulled double duty this past weekend by competing in both the final rounds of the Bridgestone/FormulaCar Magazine F2000 Series and the Sunoco Ron Fellows Karting Championship (SRFKC). After taking three of the four feature wins over the September 26-28 weekend, James will take some time off before heading to the Stars of Tomorrow season finale in Fontana, CA.
Friday's F2000 event was unique in the way that the series officials decided to place the top 12 drivers in the championship points chase together in the same feature race. Drawing for cars, Hinchcliffe drew a machine that was down on power and struggled to qualify 5th. The day went from bad to worse for James as he began the first of three feature events for the weekend. While running in 4th and chasing 3rd down, his Reynard race car had a fuel pickup problem which saw the car shut off on several occasions. Hinchcliffe played it safe and brought the car home in the 9th position. "Today was a tough day for us and hopefully we can turn it around tomorrow" said James in a telephone interview from the track.
On Saturday, with only one grid of 12 cars, the Bridgestone officials decided to run two feature events in order to end the weekend early. In heavy rain and treacherous conditions, Hinchcliffe qualified on the pole ahead of three time series champion Kevin Adams. "So far, today has gone better then yesterday" explained an excited Hinchcliffe after his qualifying session, "I really want to win and move up in the standings." James timed the start of race two perfectly and got a good jump on the field. By putting together some clean and consistent race laps he managed to open a ten second gap on his nearest competitor to secure the victory.
To prove that race two was no fluke, Hinchcliffe did the same in race three by putting his car in P1 for the feature event. As the green flag flew for the start of the race, Hinchcliffe and series rival Jordy Vorrath opened a gap on the rest of the field. The caution flag flew for three laps on the 6th circuit due to heavy fog. "I really didn't need the caution" stated the young star, "I was just getting into a rhythm and getting comfortable with the conditions." With the fog slowly burning off, the race went green and Hinchcliffe began to show his true skill. By sliding the car around the corners and getting back on the power early, he edged away from fellow Canadian Vorrath. Jordy eventually spun his car near the end of the race as he was trying to keep pace with Hinchcliffe who drove to nearly a ten second victory.
After four short months, the Bridgestone/FormulaCar Magazine F2000 Racing Series has come to a close with the top three in points coming from karting backgrounds. Hinchcliffe came into the final event fifth in the points race and wound up finishing the year in 3rd, just one point out of second.
After Hinchcliffe's stellar performance in the wet on Saturday, he received a congratulatory phone call from First Kart North American boss Tony Ventresca. Ventresca also stated that since James now had Sunday off there would be a kart available to him if he would like to race. Hinchcliffe jumped at the opportunity and was at the track early Sunday morning. "I walked to the kart and saw that it was set-up for the junior Rotax class" James explained. "My tuner Terry Ventresca quickly made a cylinder change and a few minor adjustments and we made it to the grid just in time for the only practice session of the day."
James was pleased with the karts set-up but knew if he wanted to win the event, a lot of work was still needed. The First Kart North American team made several chassis adjustments and with the addition of new tires, they headed to the grid for qualifying. "I had the track position, I just didn't have the necessary speed to take the pole" expressed the 16 year-old after qualifying in P4 out of 36 drivers. An uneventful heat race to set up the grid for the final saw Hinchcliffe slot into the 3rd position putting him on the inside line for the tough first corner at Goodwood Kartways.
At the drop of the green flag for the final event, Hinchcliffe went on a charge as he knew he had to be up at the front if he wanted a chance at victory. Some bold moves under braking saw Hinchcliffe advance up the order and finish right in front of teammate Trevor Daly. "My team did an awesome job today and I would like to congratulate them for taking the top two spots on the podium" said an exhausted Hinchcliffe after a very long weekend. The SRFKC series also came to a close with Hinchcliffe taking five victories in the six races that he entered.
Hinchliffe's next on track activity will see him compete on October 23-26 weekend at the CART Stars of Tomorrow Season finale that will bring the East and West coast competitors together for an exciting shootout and the chance to be crowned the champion. The season ending event will take place in the infield of Fontana Speedway during the final Champ Car event of 2003.