ELKHART LAKE, Wis., July 24 - At the halfway point of the 2000 U.S. Formula 2000 season, France's Harold Primat is coming into his own. At the series' last event, a doubleheader July 8-9 at Road America here, he posted the second-fastest...
ELKHART LAKE, Wis., July 24 - At the halfway point of the 2000 U.S. Formula 2000 season, France's Harold Primat is coming into his own.
At the series' last event, a doubleheader July 8-9 at Road America here, he posted the second-fastest speed in one of the practice sessions and recorded his best qualifying run to date (third) and his best finish (sixth) in the Primland Resort 2000 Van Diemen Elite Ford #77 prepared by Pabst Racing Services.
Six races have been run so far this year and seven remain on the schedule. Primat is currently 16th in the overall point standings for the national championship, with plenty of points still left to collect. So far the current point leader, Aaron Justus of Crestline, Calif., and the current second-place runner in the point standings, Marc-Antoine Camirand of Trois Rivieres, Quebec, Canada, have won all but one F2000 race this season.
Primat was second only to Justus in one of the practice sessions Friday, July 7 at Road America, running at an average speed of 105.61 mph to Justus's 106.09 mph. They were two of 10 drivers to eclipse the existing track record during that session on the challenging 4.048-mile road course.
When it was time to qualify for the first race of the doubleheader, Primat ran even faster. He qualified third to polesitter Camirand and Justus in the 44-car field with an average speed of 106.416 mph. That time was second-fastest for awhile, but the speeds got faster as the cars' Yokohama tires got more heat in them, and Camirand got the pole with a lap at 106.583 mph in the last minute of the half-hour qualifying session.
The next day was nerve-wracking for all concerned because the race was delayed for about five hours due to heavy thunderstorms. Primat was as high as fifth on lap seven of the 12-lap contest, but Jeff Harrison of Grapevine, Texas passed him on the following circuit and he ended up sixth at the checkered. Harrison was really on a roll, as he set the fastest lap of the event and ended up third. Justus led all 12 laps.
Qualifying for the second race was delayed by rain for two hours and cut in half because of time constraints. There was standing water in some spots and no time to get a rhythm going, but Primat still qualified sixth to polesitter Camirand with an average speed of 90.390 mph.
The track was still wet when the race began on Sunday morning, and at the start the visibility was almost zero. Primat finished 16th, while Camirand led every lap enroute to the victory.
"We're making progress," noted Primat after the race. "We ran very well in practice and the first qualifying session, but we had some rough trips in the races. The weather added another challenge for all of us and the races were very wild, but overall it was a good weekend."
Primat's next race is July 30 through the streets of Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada. Round eight will be held at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada on Aug. 5, while a doubleheader at Watkins Glen, N.Y. rounds out the month of August on Aug. 26-27. Primat returns to the site of a strong tenth-place finish, the oval at Indianapolis Raceway Park in Indiana, on Sept. 23, the night before the first Formula 1 race ever at neighboring Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The season concludes with a doubleheader Sept. 29-30 on the 2.52-mile road course at Road Atlanta in Georgia as part of the Petit Le Mans weekend.