KNIGHT THIRD EQUAL IN COOPER TIRES SERIES AFTER ROUND 2
Christchurch driver Andy Knight endured a difficult time at Round 2 of the 2006 Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship at the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio this weekend. However he has still emerged from the event third equal in the series.
The weekend began well for the lone New Zealander in the international field when he was 3rd fastest in testing on Thursday in his G.FRO/NAPA Van Diemen.
On Friday rain fell during the opening practice session and Knight struggled with the car in conditions that he would generally thrive in. His time was well off the pace, unusual for a driver acknowledged as an accomplished wet weather racer. Dry conditions returned for the qualifying session later in the day but mysteriously the car's pace did not. While other competitors matched their times of the previous day, Knight fell to 12th on the grid for the first race, unable to approach the times he had set earlier in the week.
The first race of the weekend on Saturday brought carnage almost immediately as American Dane Cameron spun at the first corner, blocking the track and causing a chain reaction which brought about a caution. Knight avoided the drama and after the restart drove the Van Diemen into 8th place at the chequered flag.
J R Hildebrand won the race from countrymen Jason Byers, Chris Meredith and Nick Haye. Knight's team mate Dominik Jackson of the UK was 5th, Venezuelan Ricardo Vassmer 6th and Noah Bystrom 7th.
Saturday's result put Knight 8th on the grid for the second race of the weekend on Sunday afternoon. He was quickly on the move making up several spots from the start before another caution period interrupted the race. From the restart he worked his way into 3rd place with just two laps to go. However, fast finishing Californian Dane Cameron, snuck past on the run to the flag to deprive Knight of a podium finish in just his second outing in the series. Knight's effort in bringing the G.FRO/NAPA Van Diemen home in 4th place allowed him to leave the round third equal in the series point standings.
Hildebrand won again to extend his winning streak in the series while Jason Byers again took second place, ahead of Cameron.
The young New Zealander will return home for a short time now before returning to the United States for Round 3 of the Championship at Portland International Raceway in Oregon over the weekend of 16/18 June.
The Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Series features rear - engined, single seater, open wheel, racing cars powered by 2,000cc Ford Zetec engines. The engines are 4 cylinder, double overhead cam with electronic fuel injection and can produce approximately 160bhp at 6,800rpm. The cars utilise a four - speed, quick - change non - syncro, gearbox. The cars are fitted with both front and rear wings and all cars must use the Cooper Zeon UHP racing slick. The cars are fitted with four - wheel disc brakes and the minimum vehicle weight with driver is 1,175 lbs. The package gives the car a top speed in excess of 150mph.