Californians Hildebrand and Cameron Lead the Way to Mid-Ohio Lexington, Ohio (May 16, 2006) -- There's no rest for the Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship competitors. After opening their season with a pair of thrilling races at Road ...
Californians Hildebrand and Cameron Lead the Way to Mid-Ohio
Lexington, Ohio (May 16, 2006) -- There's no rest for the Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship competitors. After opening their season with a pair of thrilling races at Road Atlanta last Saturday, a full field of teams and drivers are getting ready to take on another of this country's most scenic and challenging road circuits this weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, where two more races will be run in support of the American Le Mans Series.
The weather forecast for central Ohio this week calls for rain, but after guiding Cape Motorsports' #2 Formotion/Spy Optics/Mockett.com Van Diemen RF05 to a pair of victories last weekend at Road Atlanta -- one in dry conditions and the other in the wet -- Hildebrand has every intention of extending his championship lead.
"I'm just looking to carry my momentum into this weekend," said 18-year-old Hildebrand, from Sausalito, Calif. "It looks like it's going to be wet again. I've shown I can handle that pretty effectively, and I'm looking forward hopefully to being on the top step of the podium again."
But Hildebrand is under no illusions. He qualified only third fastest last week and is well aware that at least a half-dozen equally ambitious youngsters will be anxious to bring his win streak to an end.
Among them will be Cape Motorsports teammate Dane Cameron, who claimed the pole on his Cooper Tires FF2000 debut last weekend with the #19 Finlay Motorsports/Jim Russell Racing School/Red Line Oil Van Diemen RF01.
"Last week was a great way to start the year and it's given me a lot of confidence going into this weekend," noted Cameron, who earned a pair of runner-up finishes. "I haven't been to Mid-Ohio before but it's been completely resurfaced over the winter so nobody really knows what to expect. J.R. will definitely be one of the guys to beat but I'm looking forward to running with him and maybe coming away with my first win."
Ricardo Vassmer will be another front-runner aboard the #25 Meridiano Television/Santa Barbara Airlines/Comprent Motorsports Van Diemen. The 22-year-old from Caracas, Venezuela, won last year's Cooper Gold Cup series (for older Pinto-engined cars) and displayed prodigious pace when he stepped up into the premier Zetec class at Road Atlanta, finishing third in the first race and seventh in the second, wet encounter after a quick spin.
"The car was good but I kind of messed up a little bit, so I need to do better at Mid-Ohio," admitted Vassmer, who qualified on the pole for the SCCA Formula Continental National Championship race at Mid-Ohio last fall and was leading the race until tangling with a backmarker.
"I'm looking forward to Mid-Ohio because I know the track a bit better," he continued. "It's tough to pass there, so qualifying will be very important."
The California-based G.FRO (Geoff Fickling Racing Operation) team also should be strong. Andy Knight from Christchurch, New Zealand, currently stands third in the championship points table after taking a pair of fourth-place finishes in the season opener, while teammate Dominik Jackson from Lincoln, England, rebounded from a big crash in practice, taking a hastily-prepared backup car to third place in Race Two. Jackson also posted the fastest race lap.
Others to watch include Colombian teenager Juliana Gonzalez, who finished ninth on her debut for JDC Motorsports; 17-year-old Cole Morgan, from Lighthouse Point, Fla., who dominated the Cooper Gold Cup class last weekend; and veterans Jason Byers, from Livonia, Mich., and Gerry Kraut, from North Oaks, Minn., who will doubtless continue their rivalry in the Cooper Masters series (for drivers over 35 years of age).