Pacific F2000: Armington Victorious in Season Opener
 January 31, 2016| 
  • Feeder Series
Fontana, Calif. – The Pacific Formula F2000/F1600 Championship Presented by Primus Racing Parts opened this season’s championship at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. The race was held on the 2.88-mile road course inscribed within the 2-mile oval that plays host to NASCAR and IndyCar. This weekend is the first of seven double race weekends and was run with Cal Club as part of the SCCA U.S. Majors Tour. All events points will be scored with the best 12 results to be counted for the championship.

This season the Pacific Formula F2000 Championship Series is included in the Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200k Scholarship Shootout in 2016. The shootout will be expanded to include the champions of junior open-wheel and karting series both nationally and internationally. The winner of the knockout style shootout will be provided with a $200k Scholarship to enter the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda in 2017 – the first rung in the Mazda Road to Indy ladder sanctioned by INDYCAR.

The Mazda Road to Indy is the only driver development program of its type in the world offering a clear, scholarship-funded path to the Verizon IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500.

Qualifying began at just after 10:15 a.m. under mostly cloudy skies and mild temperatures and was led by Robert Armington, his #11, Firestone 805, Audioengine, Tomasi Motorsports Van Diemen RF00 with a sub 1 minute 40 second lap to claim the pole at 1m39.968s narrowly edging defending series champion Tom Hope; #10, Primus Racing Parts, Dart, H+M Racing Van Diemen RF03 who posted a time of 1m39.983s to claim the outside front row starting position.  Lining up behind the front row starters were Alex Kirby; #81, LA Prep Inc., Fast Forward Components, Piper Race Cars, Piper DL7 up from the F1600 class and James Hakewill; #88, Van Diemen RF03 followed by Harin de Silva; #96, DFR Van Diemen RF06, Timothy de Silva; #3, DFR Van Diemen RF01, Scott Huffaker; #09, Van Diemen RF02 the F1600 class champion, Ira Fierberg; #27, Sparco, Injury Law, LDF Pro Fitness, The Yard, DFR Van Diemen RF05, Peter West; #99, Racing Optics, Kodenko Jeans, Malibu Health, Frank Monise Motors, DFR Van Diemen RF05, 2015 Rookie of the Year Connor Funk; #97, DFR Van Diemen RF03 and  Scott Vreeland; #51, Redhorse Constructors, Porter Racing, BV Training Van Diemen RF01.

The race got under way under cloudy and threatening skies and with a split start the field was well bunched together at the green flag. From his pole position, Robert Armington swept into the lead closely followed by Tom Hope, Alex Kirby and Hakewill having lost two positions a slight gap then Tim de Silva, Harin de Silva, Ira Fierberg, Peter West, Connor Funk and Scott Vreeland.

On lap two with the order the same and Armington continuing to lead, Hakewill managed to get by Huffaker to take fourth position.

On lap three the leaders began to encounter traffic as they began to catch the slower cars of the pack that had started in front of them and it was Armington who got there first as he deftly moved through the traffic sometimes passing two or more cars per lap. His pursuers were not as fortunate enabling Armington to build a small but comfortable lead.  At the same time West passed teammate Fierberg for eighth place only to lose it again a lap later while closer to the lead Hakewill passed Kirby to reclaim third place.

On the fifth lap both Fierberg and West passed H. de Silva dropping him down to ninth position.

At half distance the order was Armington, Hope, Hakewill, Kirby, T. de Silva having passed Huffaker, Huffaker, Fierberg, West, H. de Silva, Funk and Vreeland. At this point things began to unravel as teammates West and Fierberg collided at turn three when West left his braking too late in an attempt to pass Fierberg, went through on the inside only to contact Ira’s right rear tire while attempting to regain the position sending Fierberg into a spin and contacting the sidepod of the #27 machine damaging the radiator and causing Fierberg to retire on lap 8 while West suffered a damaged front wing and dropped to tenth place.  Lap 8 was also when Hope began to suffer from a mechanical problem and lost second place to Hakewill.

Hope continued to fall down the order as he was next passed by Kirby and T. de Silva, the last places he would lose.

When the checkered flag fell, it was Robert Armington who saw it first as he finished unscathed and unchallenged at the end and managed to also set the fastest race lap to collect the two bonus points that go along with it. His first series victory was a long time in coming, this being his third season in the series, was hard earned with a flawless drive and well deserved.

Second place went to James Hakewill, who had his best performance since Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2014, made up for the lost positions at the start which probably cost a chance at victory.

Alex Kirby came home in third place showing the promise of the new Piper DL7 in its debut in the series and for Alex it is his fourth year in the series and appears to be one of great promise.

Fourth place went to Timothy de Silva who is in his first full season in the series having had earlier success with a pair of wins at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2015.

Defending series champion Tom Hope nursed his ailing car home in fifth place, not the start he wanted but also not a dnf.

Sixth place finisher Scott Huffaker if the defending F1600 champion and has moved up to the F2000 class to challenge for the championship looks to improve on his debut result.

The remaining places were held by Connor Funk; seventh, Harin de Silva; eighth, Scott Vreeland a newcomer to the series; ninth, Peter West; tenth and Ira Fierberg; eleventh.

The Pacific F2000/F1600 series has a rich history and includes among its alumni drivers J.R. Hildebrand, 2011 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the year and Dane Cameron, Tudor Series Prototype and GTD winning driver along with Pro Mazda Presented by Cooper Tires driver Patricio O’Ward and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda drivers Nikita Lastochkin and Yufeng Luo.

Sunday begins with a brief morning warm-up followed by racing at 2:35 p.m.

F2000 Qualifying: 1. Robert Armington, (Van Diemen RF00), 1m39.968s; 2. Tom Hope, (Van Diemen RF03), 1m39.938s; 3. Alex Kirby, (Piper DL7), 1m40.262s; 4. James Hakewill, (Van Diemen RF03), 1m40.310s; 5. Harin de Silva (Van Diemen RF06), 1m40.323s; 6. Timothy de Silva (Van Diemen RF01), 1m40.421s; 7. Scott Huffaker, (Van Diemen RF02), 1m41.017s; 8. Ira Fierberg, (Van Diemen RF05), 1m41.179s; 9. Peter West, (Van Diemen RF05), 1m41.704s; 10. Connor Funk, (Van Diemen RF03), 1m41.921s, 11. Scott Vreeland, (Van Diemen RF01), 1m42.309s. All cars run on Ford Zetec engines and Pirelli Tires.

F2000 Round 1 (12 laps): 1. Armington, 2. Hakewill, +4.762s; 3. Kirby, +5.028s; 4. T. De Silva, +5.331s; 5. Hope, +8.839s; 6. Huffaker, +10.615s; 7. Funk, +23.802s; 8. H. de Silva, +24.387s; 9. Vreeland, +43.960s; 10. West, +53.736s; 11. Fierberg, +4 laps.

Fastest race lap: Armington, 1m40.043s.
Master class winner (over 50): H. De Silva.

Points: 1. Armington, 34; 2. Hakewill, 25; 3. Kirby, 22; 4. T. De Silva, 19; 5. Hope, 17; 6. Huffaker, 15; 7. Funk, 14; 8. H. de Silva, 13; 9. Vreeland, 12; 10. West, 11; 11. Fierberg, 10.

The series can be followed at https://www.facebook.com/pacificf2000racing and https://www.twitter.com/PacificF2000.

For more details go to http://www.pacificf2000.com or contact Peter West at 310-363-9444, or by email, pacificf2000@hotmail.com.
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