Jonatan Jorge wins "Rookie of the Year" title. Even the impressive record of eight wins, five second and one third place, seven pole positions, eight fastest laps and three official track records, did not guarantee Brazilian driver Jonatan Jorge...
Jonatan Jorge wins "Rookie of the Year" title. Even the impressive record of eight wins, five second and one third place, seven pole positions, eight fastest laps and three official track records, did not guarantee Brazilian driver Jonatan Jorge (Pitbull Energy Drink/Montoya Racing) with the title of the Formula Dodge Southern Series, in Daytona, FL, this past weekend. The Series' point system, which requires the discarding of the season's two worst results, benefited American driver Matt Franc, who took home the title.
Without discarding the two worst results, Jorge summed 247 points, while Franc finished the championship with 228. However, Jorge discarded 27 points, while Franc disposed of only 6 points. The last two races, which defined whether Jorge or Franc would take home the championship, were no less than action-packed.
On Saturday, in the 13th event of the season, Franc took the pole-position with Jorge immediately behind with less than 0.09 sec. difference. Driving at a powerful pace, Jorge and Franc established a large margin of distance between themselves and third place Jordan Gore, pleasing the Daytona crowd with a spectacle of overtaking maneuvers, using the ever-prevalent drafting effect. Franc received the checkered flag at just 0.267 seconds ahead of Jorge.
On Sunday, new thrills came about with the last, and 14th event of the championship. Highly improved drivers Cristiano Piquet, from Brazil, and Can Artam, from Turkey, stepped up to the front of the pack and fought hard with Franc and Jorge, who were still contending for the Series' crown.
The twelve race laps had, at least, thirty overtaking maneuvers among the leading four drivers alone. But the pace enforced by the two Brazilian drivers made it for a 'private race' taking place close to five seconds ahead of third place Can Artam. At the end, the hard-fought battle ended with Jonatan Jorge in first, at only 0.007 seconds ahead of Piquet.
On Sunday evening, at the Championship banquet, Jonatan Jorge received standing ovation for his 'Rookie of The Year' and vice-champion titles, setting the tone for the his performance in the Series. "I had some experience in this track, as I've won three times here. On Saturday, I tried to follow Matt Franc closely and then take the lead from him on the last lap, but he was very skilled in preventing me from catching his car's draft at the end of the chicane, which induced me to lose valuable speed to cross the finish line in first. However on Sunday I implemented the same strategy on Piquet and was successful,' said Jorge.
Jorge also claimed that "the tile was important for me, as this has been my first international championship experience. But the overall goal, besides winning the Series, was to secure a place in the 'shoot-out' (scholarship event) to take place in November. I am extremely happy with the Rookie of the Year title and very touched by those who believe me to be the 'moral winner' of the championship, due to the number of wins and points I secured against Matt Franc."
Jonatan Jorge capped the winning weekend by stating: "I'm very thankful to my sponsors, Pitbull Energy Drink and Montoya Racing, and to many others who supported me during the championship. I also thank all of those who helped me during this tough period, my family and friends, and a special mention to Divina Galica, Formula Dodge Event Manager, for her support without which none of this would have been possible."