F2000 finale win gives Daniel Erickson pointscore podium and Rookie of the Year title Daniel Erickson has taken another step towards achieving his Formula 1 ambition by winning the final round of the F2000 Championship Series at Mid ...
F2000 finale win gives Daniel Erickson pointscore podium and Rookie of the Year title
Daniel Erickson has taken another step towards achieving his Formula 1 ambition by winning the final round of the F2000 Championship Series at Mid Ohio.
Erickson was never headed in the 20-lap, 77km race after he took the lead at the first corner from pole position holder and newly confirmed 2010 champion Victor Carbone.
The young Sydney driver crossed the finish line just over one second clear of 2007 champion Cole Morgan, with Carbone almost two seconds further back.
It was Erickson's third race win in the championship, in which he also scored four second places, four pole positions, two qualifying lap records and two fastest race laps.
His victory confirmed him as the championship's 2010 Rookie of the Year, his third such award in four racing seasons across two categories at different levels.
And it secured his third position overall in the championship, an
extraordinary achievement considering:
* he only contested 10 of the 14 rounds, due to lack of funds;
* he had no previous experience racing a 'wings and slicks' openwheel car; and
* he had never driven at any of the circuits before.
The Australian Motor Sport Foundation International Rising Star qualified his Primus Racing Van Diemen in second position with a best lap of 1min. 24.680sec., 0.226sec. off Carbone's pole time, around the 3.9km Lexington, Ohio racetrack.
This was despite insufficient brake bias and two clean-up stoppages late in the half-hour session that denied him the opportunity to try to improve his time.
With next fastest qualifier Fabio Orsolon and fourth position starter Morgan several tenths slower, the race looked to be between Erickson and Carbone - but it didn't turn out that way.
Erickson outjumped Carbone at the rolling start along Mid Ohio's long, kinked backstretch instead of the shorter pit straight, and led into the first corner.
He drew out a lead of more than a second while Carbone defended his position from Morgan, the American finally disposing of the Brazilian soon after a brief pace car period.
Morgan put in some blistering laps to close the gap to Erickson to less than a second, but the gritty Australian withstood the challenge and then extended his lead back to more than a second.
The gap between the front running pair oscillated by a few tenths of a second throughout the remaining laps, but Erickson held on to take the chequered flag by 1.034 seconds.
He revealed after the race that he had to cope with a handling problem during the latter stages.
"The car started to develop mid-corner understeer in the slow corners," he said. "From then on I just tried not to make any mistakes, which I didn't.
"To pull a gap on the competition and come away with the win is what racing drivers' dream about!
"This has been a great way to end the series, especially after our troubles on Saturday.
"It proved to me that you must never stop trying, no matter how bad things look."
Daniel Erickson's weekend had a faltering beginning when his car struck mechanical problems in Saturday's penultimate round of the F2000 Championship Series.
First, an incorrect throttle setting and a damaged air filter robbed his engine of crucial power during qualifying on the high-speed 3.9km (2.4 mile) circuit.
A malfunctioning car-to-pits radio exacerbated the situation.
Despite those handicaps, he posted the fifth fastest qualifying lap at 1min. 24.418sec., only 0.239sec. off the pole time set by Brazilian champion-apparent Victor Carbone.
An indication of what might have been if Erickson's car had been at full strength was that he only lowered his best Friday lap time, on a 'green' track, by half a second compared to a full second and more achieved by many drivers in the 23-car field.
"We were in trouble with the radio not working properly, so when my first attempt at a quick lap was only in the 25s I came straight into the pits to fix some understeer," he said.
"We made an adjustment and I improved my time by 0.6sec., which was better but still well off the pace I'd been hoping for.
"Eric Oseth from Quicksilver Race Engines plugged in his laptop after qualifying, and found that the throttle wasn't opening fully.
"We were down by about two to three kilowatts, which would have made quite a difference at Mid Ohio with its long back straight.
"We also found that the air filter was ripped, so that probably cost a bit of time too."
With those two problems quickly solved, Erickson was looking forward to mixing it with the leaders in the race - but things went from bad to worse.
The car had been riding too high in qualifying, so it was lowered to what the team thought would be spot-on.
It turned out to be too low, allowing the chassis to scrape the track under heavy braking.
Even so, in the early laps Erickson overtook pole sitter Carbone, who later admitted that he was driving conservatively to guarantee his championship win with one race remaining (which he did).
But on lap five the #95 Van Diemen skated wide at the 180-degree Keyhole corner, dropping him back to 15th place by the time he rejoined the race.
Unlike his brilliant Round 10 recovery drive from 14th starting position to a second place finish at Lime Rock Park, he could only regain six positions - two of them courtesy of other drivers spinning off - in his crippled car before the chequered flag.
His fastest lap of 1min. 25.200sec. was a whopping 0.868sec. off race winner Livengood's best time, indicating the severity of the ride height problem.
Afterwards Erickson was bitterly disappointed at how the race had panned out, but equally determined to bounce back in Sunday's championship finale.
"I made an okay start, but straight away there was a problem with the car bottoming out badly under brakes.
"It almost got away from me several times, but I managed to get past Victor - although I think he wasn't taking any risks to make sure he won the championship.
"Then the car bottomed out really badly at the Keyhole, and I couldn't hold it.
"I got going again and just tried to score as many points as possible. I knew that Phil Lombardi (Erickson's closest threat to third place in the championship) was ahead of me on the track, so he was probably ahead of me in the pointscore too."
After the race meeting, Erickson expressed his gratitude to everyone involved with his first American racing campaign, in particular Primus Racing Parts owners Jon and Brad Baytos.
"I'd like to thank the crews from various race teams who work on the cars, especially Jon and Brad who put this deal together in a very short time," he said. "I couldn't begin to guess how many small and not-so-small problems they solved during the championship.
"Without their help there's no way that I would have won rookie of the Year or finished third in the championship after missing four rounds.
I'd also like to thank the Australian Motor Sport Foundation, which came on board for Road America and Mid Ohio, as well as Shaun Garrity and all of the Team Erickson members who bought tickets for our fundraisers.
"Last but not least, thanks to my mum and dad for their encouragement and support, and my uncle Bill for his tireless fundraising work."
-source: daniel erickson PR