JDC MOTORSPORTS USF2000 PODIUM STREAK ENDS AT AUTOBAHN
Abbate highlights difficult weekend with top-five result in Round Seven
JOLIET, ILL. (August 4, 2010) -- JDC MotorSports exits this past weekend's (July 31-August 1) Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda doubleheader at the Autobahn Country Club unable to have extended its four-race podium run. The talented trio of Raphael Abbate, Mikhail Goikhberg and Martin Sala showed the speed and skill to keep the streak alive, however incidents relegated the Minnesota-based squad to one top-five and five top-10s at the Illinois road course.
JDC MotorSports entered the Autobahn doubleheader confident it could continue its recent run of form - earning six podium finishes in the past four races. Initially it appeared that belief was well justified, as not only did Abbate finish among the top-three in both Friday practice runs, but he was joined by Goikhberg in the top-five in both sessions, and Sala among the top-10.
A wrench was thrown in the plans come Saturday morning however, as heavy rain greeted the entire USF2000 field during the lone qualifying session. Given all three racers had little to no experience driving an Formula Ford 2000 in the wet, it came as no surprise that they were unable to reach the desired speeds. That being said, Goikhberg, Abbate and Sala remained positioned for a strong afternoon race by qualifying sixth, seventh and 10th respectively.
When Round Seven did get underway on a dry track after the lunch break, turn one proved to be the deciding factor. With the field going three-wide into the opening left handed turn, Goikhberg's chances at a top result vanished when he was forced into a spin and made contact with another car. While able to continue, the Russian was forced to steer his No. 10 Chetverg/Red Line Oil/JDC MotorSports entry to pitlane for repairs. Fortunate to avoid the first corner mayhem, Abbate and Sala were immediately involved in an entertaining multi-car fight for position among the top-five. Posting similar times, the No. 11 Avery Dennison/Alphacolor/Red Line Oil/JDC MotorSports entry and No. 19 Gulf/Aero Gal/Red Line Oil/JDC MotorSports car dueled for position lap after lap. In the end, Abbate held the top-spot, adding a fifth place result to his rookie resume. Sala came home in sixth, while Goikhberg recovered from the first turn incident to finish 10th.
With each racer's fast time from the opening race setting the grid, Round Eight commenced with Abbate and Sala on row three and Goikhberg right behind in row four. For a second consecutive race, turn one proved to be the decisive moment for the JDC Motorsports trio. Attempting to make a pass for position right after the green flag waved, Goikhberg struck Abbate, sending the Brazilian into a spin that resulted in him brushing Sala before lightly impacting the outside guard rail. While Goikhberg was initially able to continue, his race concluded a few corners later, when damage from the incident sent him off-course into a gravel trap.
Abbate, able to keep his car fired, rejoined the race at the rear of the field. While his hopes of challenging for a win or podium finish were gone, he never gave up attacking. As a result, Abbate - turning times not far off the pace of the lead trio - reeled in the rear of the field, working his way all the way back to eighth at the checkered flag, within striking distance of sixth.
Sala, having been forced to pit for repairs, and battling an injured car the entire race was the next driver to the stripe, finishing ninth.
JDC Motorsports and its trio of Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda drivers return to action on August 21-22, with Rounds Nine and Ten at Road America. Entering the doubleheader, Goikhberg remains third in the driver standings, a mere two points ahead of Abbate, while JDC MotorSports is third in the team title fight. Goikhberg and the JDC crew will sample the famed Wisconsin road course ahead of time this coming weekend (August 7-8), taking part in the Rounds 11 and 12 of the F2000 Championship Series.