Oakville, Ontario teen gets on track in Formula 2000 Series Three podium finishes in first three races Oakville, Ontario - June 23, 2003 -Â The auto racing season could not have started any better for Oakville resident James Hinchcliffe.
Oakville, Ontario teen gets on track in Formula 2000 Series
Three podium finishes in first three races
Oakville, Ontario - June 23, 2003 - The auto racing season could not have started any better for Oakville resident James Hinchcliffe. The 16-year old, competing in the Bridgestone Racing Academy's Formula 2000 race series at Mosport, came away from the opening round with three podium finishes in three races. With two second place finishes and a third James has become an immediate force to reckon with in the series championship.
Racing got underway on Friday (20th) with the weekend forecast calling for great weather. Being an arrive and drive program, drivers draw for cars and then its off for practice and qualifying. James would start from third on the grid in race one. "We had a good run on Friday but could not manage to move up," noted James. "It is difficult to pass when the cars are so evenly matched and you are behind some pretty determined drivers." Finishing third was a good start to the weekend for James and he would build on the confidence he gained in the early sessions.
Race two on Saturday (21st) and in early practice mechanical problems had James switching cars before qualifying. A good car and a great drive put James on the front row only 1/10th second behind pole-sitter, Canadian karting champion Jordy Vorrath. Some drama in the early laps had James right on the leader's tail. Too close at one point and James spun off track dropping to third. According to James, "I was very close to Jordy in turn 12 and very late on the brakes. I had to go off line and really get on the brakes so I wouldn't hit him and it just took me around." With plenty of laps left in the 20 minute timed raced, James turned in a series of clean, very quick laps to catch up and retake second place. With that done, he once again set his sights on catching Jordy whose car seemed to be suffering just a bit with handling. Unfortunately, time ran out before James could make a serious run on first place. "First would have been nice especially when I could have had it early in the race," offered James, "but second adds to our points total and is a bonus considering that spin could have moved us further back or ended our race."
Race three on Sunday and it looked to be another good day with James again qualifying second beside another veteran karter, Matt Champagne. James jumped into the lead but missed a shift that allowed Matt to pass for first. Dropping a wheel off the track, James spun and fell back to sixth place. "I was beginning to think that nothing would go right for us in this race," said James "but I knew I could possibly make up one or two positions and salvage some points." James retook fifth place but the drive for position had taken its toll on the car. With brakes fading and the engine beginning to overheat, James decided to hang back and save the car. That turned out to be a good decision when the three cars ahead in a fight for only two positions on the podium, came together on the last lap allowing James to cruise by and take second place. James was philosophical about the incident: "You hate to see that happen, but racing is racing and sometimes luck just goes your way."
The next round of the Bridgestone Racing Academy series sponsored by Formula Car Magazine takes place on July 4-6 at the Mosport Driver Development Circuit in Bowmanville, Ontario. In the meantime, James will be competing in his Mobil 1Racing/First Kart North America ICC shifter kart in the Cart Stars event at the Dodge Freedom Festival in Windsor, Ontario, June 27-29.