The Hildebrand Juggernaut Gets Back on Track with a Double Victory in Toronto Toronto, Ont., Canada (July 9, 2006) -- J.R. Hildebrand was not at all happy with himself two weeks ago at Cleveland, having spun off midway through the weekend's...
The Hildebrand Juggernaut Gets Back on Track with a Double Victory in Toronto
Toronto, Ont., Canada (July 9, 2006) -- J.R. Hildebrand was not at all happy with himself two weeks ago at Cleveland, having spun off midway through the weekend's second race and lost a clear opportunity to extend his record-breaking win streak to nine. When the Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship reconvened this weekend on the streets around Exhibition Place in Toronto, Hildebrand took out his frustration on his rivals, earning a pair of pole positions and two more emphatic victories with the Cape Motorsports #2 Formotion/Spy Optics/Mockett.com Van Diemen.
Hildebrand thereby claimed his ninth win from 10 races, tying the record of race victories in a single season established last year by Englishman Jay Howard.
"In a series like this with so much history, as with the number of consecutive wins, that's a pretty good accomplishment," he acknowledged.
"I've just been having a great time since I got here [to Toronto]," Hildebrand continued. "The team and I were really anxious to get to a street circuit because neither of us has done it before. It's just totally different, so we all came here on a really level playing field., and I think the driving style I've shown this season has put us on the top step of the podium again here. It's just a lot of fun."
Hildebrand, 18, from Sausalito, Calif., extended his championship lead to a staggering 106 points, having earned 312 points to the 206 of Cape Motorsports teammate Dane Cameron, who took another pair of second-place finishes in the #19 Finlay Motorsports/Jim Russell School/Red Line Oil Van Diemen. A total of 128 points are available from the two remaining event weekends, each of which will comprise two races.
Cameron, 17, from Sonoma, Calif., cemented his position at the head of the Greg Moore Rookie of the Year point standings, which he now leads by 44 markers over Ricardo Vassmer, 22, from Caracas, Venezuela, while the pair of one-two finishes clinched the Teams Championship for Palmetto, Fla.-based Cape Motorsports -- its first since 2003.
"It's been a pretty good weekend," concluded Cameron, who finished 7.821 seconds behind Hildebrand in Race One and trailed by a 5.998-second deficit on Sunday. "I hung out with J.R. at the beginning but the track seemed to get a bit greasy after the Champ Car race and I think J.R. figured it out a little bit quicker than I did."
Vassmer also was pleased with his weekend's work, after taking a pair of third-place finishes with the JDC Motorsports #25 Meridiano Television/Santa Barbara Airlines Van Diemen.
"I really need to thank John Church and the team," said Vassmer, last year's Cooper Gold Cup champion, after taking his third consecutive podium result. "My car is getting better and better each weekend, and we're getting closer and closer to the Cape guys."
JDC Motorsports teammate Noah Bystrom also enjoyed an excellent weekend. Bystrom, from Chanhassen, Minn., overcame a badly deranged rear wing on Saturday, the legacy of an inadvertent bump from teammate Juliana Gonzalez, to finish a fine fourth in the #10 Cooper Power Tools/Hoff-Hilk/Apex Van Diemen. Bystrom repeated that result on Sunday, finishing hot on the tail of Vassmer, just a half-second away from his first-ever podium finish.
Chris Meredith (#3 MII Security/Bertil Roos School/Primus Racing Van Diemen), from Potomac, Md., rounded out the top five on Saturday, while Jason Byers (# 28 A&B Refrigeration/St. Clair Motorsports Van Diemen), from Lansing, Mich., took the place on Sunday.
The Cooper Gold Cup honors on both days were taken by a deserving Seth Ravndal, from Ann Arbor, Mich., who guided his #22pleasuretechnicians.com Van Diemen to ninth place overall on Saturday and 13th on Sunday.
"It's great to race on a track like this, and in front of the Champ Car crowd. I was out there working on my technique, trying to learn from these guys [Hildebrand and Cameron]," said Ravndal. "I had a lot of fun."