Briton Jay Howard Pads Cooper Series FF2000 Lead With Two Wins at Mid-Ohio May 25, 2005 -- Englishman Jay Howard's remarkable run of success since setting his sights on a career in North America last year continued at the challenging Mid-Ohio ...
Briton Jay Howard Pads Cooper Series FF2000 Lead With Two Wins at Mid-Ohio
May 25, 2005 -- Englishman Jay Howard's remarkable run of success since setting his sights on a career in North America last year continued at the challenging Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last weekend as he claimed another pair of victories with his newhoneys.com/Aiken Racing Van Diemen RF03.
Howard, 24, from Basildon, England, won one of the two Cooper Tires Championship Series for Formula Ford 2000 races he contested in 2004, and so far this season remains unbeaten in four starts.
"That's pretty good," he said with masterful understatement.
Fellow Briton Joey Foster, from Truro, finished second in both Mid-Ohio races with the Bradfords/Cape Motorsports Van Diemen RF01, while Matt McDonough, from West Newbury, Mass., emerged as the top American finisher, taking a pair of thirds in the TASC Technical Services/GTP Motorsports Van Diemen RF02.
McDonough also was the top Cooper Masters Cup (over age 35) contender in each race, while Doug Kniffin, from Syosset, N.Y., and Ricardo Vassmer, from Caracas, Venezuela, shared the Cooper Gold Star honors for cars equipped with SCCA Formula Continental-spec Pinto engines
Race One on Saturday was all about Howard, who qualified on the pole -- a mere 0.027s ahead of Foster -- and was never headed during the 19-lap race. Howard pulled out an appreciable advantage in the early stages, and even though his lead was erased by a full-course caution, he put his head down once more at the restart and made no mistakes before taking the checkered flag 1.395 seconds clear of Foster.
McDonough, who also finished on the podium at Mid-Ohio in 2002, led the pursuit in third place. He was chased home by Pacific F2000 Championship leader Mike Forest, from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, who was making his first foray to the East Coast-based Cooper Series with a PR1 Motorsports Mygale SJ04. (Forest, however, was ineligible for championship points because he failed to conform to the series' testing restrictions.)
Fellow Canadian Chris Guerrieri, from Pickering, Ontario, overcame some mechanical gremlins to take fifth in another Aiken Racing Van Diemen.
Cooper Gold Car winner Kniffin finished 16th overall, well clear of Norwalk, Conn.'s Peter Gonzalez.
Sunday's race was held in treacherous conditions following a rain shower shortly before the start. All of the top contenders chose to start on dry-weather Cooper Zeon tires, but there was absolutely no room for error as the undulating 2.25-mile road course was still wet when the green flag was shown.
Howard and Foster once again were the class of the field, and this time it was Foster, 22, who seemed to have the upper hand after taking advantage of his first pole position of the season.
The two talented Englishmen exchanged positions several times in the early stages before Foster began to edge clear.
"Everything was looking good until I caught up to some slower traffic in the worst possible place -- in the Carousel," he related. "And because the track was still wet, I couldn't go off line and so Jay got a run on me going onto the straight."
For the second day running, Foster posted the fastest lap of the race but he couldn't prevent Howard from taking his fourth straight victory (and matching the feat achieved most recently by Americans Jonathan Bomarito and Bryan Sellers, who, respectively, went on to claim top championship honors in 2003 and 2002).
"To be honest, if it would have been [decided by] speed, I wouldn't have won," acknowledged Howard. "They had a better car than us, but maybe my racecraft was a little bit better. It was the best race of the year so far and I really enjoyed it."
Foster remained philosophical after finishing second: "It's a bit frustrating, but overall I'm pleased. We scored some good points and it's a long championship."
After four races, Howard leads Foster by a margin of 127 points to 74. Potolicchio currently lies third in the points table with 72.
McDonough once again led the chase in third, followed by Venezuelan Enzo Potolicchio and Doug Smith, from Plantation, Fla.
After being sidelined on Saturday when he collided with a rival on the opening lap, Vassmer stormed from the back of the field to an impressive 10th-place overall finish to secure maximum Cooper Gold Cup points.
The Cooper Tires Championship Series for Formula Ford 2000 cars will continue with another pair of races held in conjunction with the Champ Car World Series' Grand Prix of Cleveland (Ohio) at the ultra-fast Burke Lakefront Airport temporary course on June 25/26.