Luca Forgeois Delivers in St. Pete Capper to Overcome Mechanical Issues
 March 27, 2012| 
  • Team News
USF2000-news
New York driver finally given shot to prove his speed after being hampered by nagging mechanical issues during the first three races of the year

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. – Heading into the second race of the doubleheader for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, it was easy to see the frustration itself on the face of 16 year-old driver Luca Forgeois. The 2012 season was to be his debut run in the program’s headline ‘Championship’ class and upon joining the upstart Belardi Auto Racing team for the new year, success appeared to be on the horizon. While driver development would still be the focus, Forgeois was coming in gunning for podiums and race wins. That said, things just didn’t go exactly as planned. Nagging mechanical issues at the season-opener in Sebring, Florida precluded him from being able to run at full speed in even a single on-track session, while contact in the second race of the weekend put him on the sidelines with a damaged car. Fast-forward to this past weekend at the IZOD IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and electrical woes continued to keep Forgeois from showing what he has to offer, robbing his Van Diemen of the performance it needed to run with his competition. This would all change on Sunday for race two, as the series sophomore was given a car that allowed him to charge to the front, where he would finish sixth after reeling in a four-car fight for second in the waning laps. 

For Forgeois, a weight had been lifted off his shoulders, although the early season problems have all but removed him from championship contention.


“It was an incredibly frustrating start to the season, as all I wanted to do was get out there and show people what I could do now that I’ve moved to the Championship class,” offered the high school Junior from New York, NY. “When the problems from Sebring continued at St. Petersburg, it was tough to stay focused. But thankfully, we sorted out most of the issues for the Sunday race and I was able to run where I expect to be, and that’s in the lead group. I still think we were down on power at little, so once we get this all straightened out, I’m confident that we’ll be able to contend for victories.” 

Coming off a development year in the series that saw him take the USF2000 National class championship on the strength of six wins (2011), the young driver was filled with excitement and fueled with motivation heading to the season-opener in Sebring, Florida on March 14-16. Early season testing had been positive, but the mechanical problems started straightaway in Sebring and would continue all week, as Forgeois was not able to complete a single session with a car at 100%. While his crew worked continually to diagnose and remedy the issues, they simply re-surfaced early into each session, robbing Forgeois’ car of top-end speed. In the opening race, he was able to complete just three laps, while in the second event, Forgeois was involved in an incident that ended his day classified in 26th.

“My team [Belardi Auto Racing] just kept busting their tails to diagnosis the problems and they swapped out several different components and systems to try to give me a car that could run at 100%,” Forgeois commented. “At Sebring, they could just never determine the issue and I was left trying to do overdrive the car to get any sort of result. It was definitely not the way I wanted to start the year.”


Forgeois then headed for St. Petersburg looking to shake the bad luck, but the mechanical gremlins continued through the opening sessions and his patience was certainly tested. In Saturday’s 21-lap race, his Café Noir/Splashlight/Gearup Van Diemen lacked all straight-away speed as he was routinely gapped by the slower National class cars. Forgeois drove as hard as possible and was officially classified in 26th, although he was still almost 1.5 seconds off the pace of the leaders. 


Sunday’s race in St. Petersburg proved to be the first chance for Forgeois to shine, as his Belardi crew had remedied the mechanical gremlins. Starting 14th based his quickest lap from race one, he needed to attack quickly to get into the fray up front. After a yellow flag on lap six, he went to work closing in on the drivers in the top-five, arriving at the tail of the lead group with just two laps to go. Forgeois looked for an opening, but thought better of it, and recorded his first top-10 of the year with a tremendous sixth place result.


“A true test of character is what the weekend proved to be for me,” offered Forgeois. “It was an overall challenging weekend for me and the team. We were faced with multiple battery and electrical issues. Every session, the team isolated and found the current problem, only for a new one to appear. However, the team and my mechanic Brad never slowed down in their attempt at giving me the perfect car that I knew they were capable of giving me. In the last session of the weekend, we got the major issue solved and I had a drivable car for the second race. I was happy to get the opportunity to show the team and everybody watching the USF2000 races that I do have the pace and speed to challenge the top-five.


“I ended the race in sixth with barely any track time and some minor engine power issues,” he continued. “In addition, as we all know, track time on a street circuit is very important in terms of getting a better feel and understanding of the course. Although it was a tough weekend and nowhere near perfect, I am happy to end on a good note. I truly believe that the team can pick up the season from the last race and begin carrying a good momentum throughout the rest of the schedule.”


Forgeois will now need to wait until late-May for his next USF2000 competition, when the series heads to Lucas Oil Raceway for the famed ‘Night Before The 500’ event on the ½-miled banked oval on May 26.  

Follow Luca’s career on www.lucaforgeois.com

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About Luca Forgeois:
A resident of New York City, New York, the 16 year-old Luca Forgeois is an aspiring race car driver with the goal of becoming a professional competitor. Luca emerged from his development years in karting to win the 2011 National class title in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, and for 2012, he is back in the series campaigning the headline ‘Championship Class’ category with Belardi Auto Racing.


 

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