NA-F2000: Ricardo Vassmer Road Atlanta summary

Vassmer Finishes Third and Seventh In FF2000 Doubleheader Saturday at Road Atlanta BRASELTON, Ga., May 13 - Although Ricardo Vassmer realizes that some American open-wheel fans haven't heard of him yet, he did his best to start to change that ...

Vassmer Finishes Third and Seventh In FF2000 Doubleheader Saturday at Road Atlanta

BRASELTON, Ga., May 13 - Although Ricardo Vassmer realizes that some American open-wheel fans haven't heard of him yet, he did his best to start to change that Saturday at Road Atlanta Motorsports Park by finishing third and seventh in the Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship season-opening doubleheader.

Driving the No. 25 fielded by Comprent Motorsports based in nearby Athens, Ga., the 22-year from Caracas, Venezuela definitely made his presence known in both 30-minute races on the 2.54-mile road course.

Vassmer, who dominated last year's Cooper Gold Cup, finished third in the first race on Saturday morning to share the podium with two Californians: the winner, JR Hildebrand, and the polesitter and runner-up, Dane Cameron. Andy Knight and Chris Meredith rounded out the top five after the first 18-lap/30-minute race that featured 28 cars.

Cameron, Vassmer and Hildebrand went three-wide into turn one on the first lap of that event and Hildebrand was able to get the advantage. He started to walk away from the field while Vassmer battled with Knight for third.

Hildebrand bobbled a bit in Turn Three late in the race which allowed both Cameron and Vassmer to catch up, but then Chuck Lessick crashed in Turn Five and the race ended under yellow.

That race was held under dry conditions and it was much less eventful than the race later that afternoon, when the skies opened up and it started to rain. Vassmer had never competed in wet conditions before, and his race ended up being a thriller.

Driving on slicks and caught up in a fierce battle with Cameron for second, he spun in Turn Five with three laps to go but then regrouped, passed about eight cars in his charge back up through the field, and finished seventh.

Vassmer started third in the nightcap since he finished third in the first race. He got around Cameron in Turn One at the start but Hildebrand drove very defensively and held him off. If it wasn't for the spin, he thought he could have had another podium finish for sure.

The top seven in the second race were Hildebrand, Cameron, Dominik Jackson, Knight, Clark Cambern, Jason Byers and Vassmer.

"In the beginning Hildebrand was blocking and I just couldn't pass him; I was all over him but he got through traffic better than I did," Vassmer said afterwards. "Then with three laps to go I made a mistake and spun in Turn Five. I went down to about 14th or 15th place, and lost too much time. I got going again, but I had to wait for the whole field to get by before I could rejoin it. Then I passed a lot of people. I needed one more lap though.

"It was the first race I ever did in the rain, and we did it on slicks," he added. "I could have had an easy second, but I ended up seventh."

Vassmer qualified second on Friday afternoon, only 0.025 of a second off the polesitter, Cameron. Cameron ran a 1:24.380 (108.367 mph) to Vassmer's 1:24.405 (108.335 mph), so those two set the pace for the 28-car field as it took the green in the first race on Saturday. Hildebrand and Jason Byers started in row two.

The starting line-up for the afternoon race was set by the finishing positions in the first race.

There were two practice sessions on Thursday, and Vassmer was fast in both of those too. In the first practice session on Thursday he was third to Hildebrand and Cameron, running a 1:25.466 to Hildebrand's 1:25.374. In the second practice session he was second only to Hildebrand, running a 1:25.226 to Hildebrand's 1:24.845.

The next two FF2000 races are coming right up next weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

"I'll do better at Mid-Ohio," Vassmer predicted.

After that it's off to Portland International Raceway in Portland, Ore. June 16-18; Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Ohio June 23-25; Exhibition Place in Toronto July 7-9; Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ontario Sept. 1-3 and Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. Sept. 22-24. Doubleheaders are held at each of the seven venues on the schedule for a 14-race season.

More information is available on the Internet at ricardovassmer.com, cooperseries.com and eformulacarnews.com.

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Chris Meredith , Dane Cameron