Queenslander Josh Hunt continued his charge in the Toyota Atlantic Championship in Portland, Oregon USA competing in two rounds in his Wright Patton Shakespeare supported entry over the weekend. Following three consecutive top 10 finishes in ...
Queenslander Josh Hunt continued his charge in the Toyota Atlantic Championship in Portland, Oregon USA competing in two rounds in his Wright Patton Shakespeare supported entry over the weekend.
Following three consecutive top 10 finishes in the Championship 19-year-old Hunt was confident of recording his best result of the year on the first circuit he had tested a Toyota Atlantic car at earlier in the year.
For the majority of the qualifying session for the opening 35-lap race Hunt held down the sixth fastest time. As the times tumbled late in the session Hunt pitted for new tyres only to have a red flag halt the session on his first flying lap meaning Hunt's new tyres had lost their edge qualifying just outside the top 10.
Starting from 12th Hunt was on the charge during the opening laps and by mid race distance was battling inside the top 10. Just ahead of him was a pack of five cars also engaged in battle for position.
When Hunt looked for an inside pass on Alex Garcia and the pair made contact. The contact was enough to force Hunt out of the race, his first DNF since joining Lynx Racing at the start of the series.
"It was extremely disappointing as the car was really starting to show some good race pace and I was definitely catching the group in front of me," said Hunt.
"There was very minimal damage, just enough to put me out of the race with a bent suspension arm on the front end."
With two races over the weekend Hunt it wasn't long before Hunt was back on track and focusing on the second 35-lap journey.
During qualifying for the second race Hunt had improved his starting position from the opening race to be 10th on the grid.
After being forced to steer clear of an incident during the opening lap Hunt dropped several positions to 14th to then put his head down and climb back up the order.
Within a handful of laps Hunt had elevated himself inside the top 10. By mid race he began to battle with a handling problem and his car began to oversteer significantly costing him precious time.
As the race continued he was unable to maintain his early pace eventually dropping just outside the top ten to cross the line 11th.
"We made some slight changes to correct the understeer during yesterdays race and the car was good during this morning's warm up but developed a severe oversteer problem mid race," said Hunt.
"During the opening lap I was very cautious which cost me a couple of spots but my main focus was purely on getting race laps under my belt and getting a good result.
"We now have to focus on our next round at Cleveland and the guys in the team have already been working on ideas to improve the car to correct the oversteer and find some more pace."
The next round of the Toyota Atlantic Championship at Cleveland on July 3.
Run in conjunction with the opening round of the Champ Car World Series, this is the 31st year of competition for the Toyota Atlantic Championship and is regarded as the premier training ground for the future stars of the sport.
Hunt is the first Australian to compete in the Toyota Atlantic Series since fellow Queenslander David Besnard in 1999 and has received major support from Wright Patton Shakespeare Financial Group, which is owned by Gold Coast businessman Craig Gore and Champ Car World Series Co-Owner and Aussie Kevin Kalkhoven.
A successful year in the Toyota Atlantic Championship will see Hunt make his Champ Car debut in the Lexmark Indy 300 on the streets of the Gold Coast on October 21-24.