Team Pelfrey concluded a highly competitive F1600 Formula F Championship Series season in impressive style last weekend at the Pittsburgh Race Complex in Wampum, Pa. Young Englishman Jordan Cane continued his prodigious form by becoming the first driver to sweep all three races in a single weekend, while fellow teenager and American teammate Rob Megennis added a trio of podium finishes. In addition, team newcomer Calvin Ming served notice of his intentions by securing a second-place finish in Race Two on his F1600 debut and Ben Auriemma cemented third place in the final championship standings by virtue of a pair of top-six runs.
The familiar yellow-and-black Team Pelfrey Mygale-Hondas were the cars to beat in all weather conditions during a chilly weekend in Pennsylvania. Auriemma set the pace in the first practice session on Friday in the wet, with Megennis posting the fastest time of the day in dry conditions later the same afternoon.
Cane, 14, from Bognor Regis, England, once again proved to be the team’s standard bearer on raceday. He qualified only third, narrowly ahead of Megennis and Auriemma, but quickly asserted himself as part of the lead battle along with Megennis and Skylar Robinson. Megennis led the majority of the 16-lap race before an incident on the final lap resulted in a spin for Robinson and the win for Cane. Megennis, 15, from New York, N.Y., finished second, merely 0.040 of a second behind at the checkered flag. Auriemma, 17, from Manhasset, N.Y., and South American debutant Ming, 19, from Guyana, placed sixth and seventh.
Damp and bitterly cold conditions faced the 19 competitors on Sunday morning, despite which they ventured out on slick tires for another 16-lap contest. Cane recovered emphatically from an off-course excursion to take control of the proceedings, winning by over eight seconds from the impressive Ming, who was almost caught on the line by teammate Megennis to ensure a 1-2-3 sweep of the podium for Team Pelfrey. Auriemma also ran strongly until dropping out due to contact with a rival.
The final race was postponed for a couple of hours due to snow flurries, after which Cane once again took off into the lead on a treacherously slippery track. He fell back to eighth following a mistake on the sixth lap, leaving Megennis and Auriemma to dispute the lead. Unfortunately, a misunderstanding with a couple of laps remaining left the door open for a recovering Cane to sweep through to a comfortable victory. Megennis resumed in third with Auriemma in fifth, while Ming was classified 12th in an attrition-filled contest.
Cane’s stunning performance, which saw him equal series champion Scott Andrews’ tally of seven wins, allowed him to vault from eighth in the points table to fourth, despite skipping the first six races of the 21-race season because he was too young to obtain a license.
“What a way to finish the year,” exclaimed Team Pelfrey Team Manager Nigel Tuckey. “I’m so proud of all of our drivers and team members. For Jordan to be the first driver to sweep a triple-header weekend, along with equaling the record for most wins a year at 14 years of age is remarkable. It speaks volume to his talent. Rob and Ben all led races this weekend as well, and they have both shown they have very bright futures ahead of them. Calvin was sensational on debut, and we must also remember that Andrew Hobbs had a great year with us as well. Once again, a big thanks to everyone who contributed to such an enjoyable year.”
WHAT THE DRIVERS SAID:
Robert Megennis (#80 Team Pelfrey/Relayrides Mygale-Honda) – Race One, started fourth, finished second; Race Two, started third, finished third; Race Three, started fifth, finished third: “Another wild and crazy F1600 weekend filled with snow, rain and spinning cars. Even though I’m disappointed and felt we were so close to winning at least two races, three podiums in three races is still a fantastic result. We led every race at one point and it was a blast finally racing in the wet. I’m thrilled to have learned so much from being part of such a competitive series with such an amazing team. Thanks to Team Pelfrey for making this an incredible year!”
Jordan Cane (#81 Team Pelfrey/#2Bn1 Mygale-Honda) – Race One, started third, finished first; Race Two, started fifth, finished first; Race Three, started second, finished second: “This weekend has been amazing, and it’s a great way to finish the season. Thank-you to the whole team, especially my coaches Jonny (Baker) and Anders (Krohn), my mechanic Geoff (Bushor) and my man ‘Red’ (Scott Davin)! I had high hopes for the season, but to finish fourth in the championship and equal the all-time win record in the series whilst missing six races was something I could never have expected. The racing this weekend was really difficult with the conditions, and I made a few mistakes but it doesn’t get any better than three out of three.”
Ben Auriemma (#82 Team Pelfrey/ACG Motorsports Mygale-Honda) – Race One, started sixth, finished 12th; Race Two, started fourth, finished 15th; Race Three, started sixth, finished fifth: “This weekend absolutely epitomized my season as a whole. Races Two and Three were probably my two best drives of the year, on my way to almost certain first or second-place results, but Race Two ended two laps before the checkered flag with me in the guardrail after getting collected in another driver’s crash on the straightaway, and Race Three saw a comfortable lead evolve into a spin and a fifth-place finish after my throttle started to stick wide open. Once again, I came so close, but ended up short – it was as poetic as it was frustrating. I seriously cannot thank Team Pelfrey enough for continuing to believe in me throughout the circumstances of this season, and helping me grow through these hard times. I couldn’t have asked to spend the past year with a better group of people. I hope someday we can come back and show the results that we know we are capable of.”
Calvin Ming (#83 Team Pelfrey Mygale-Honda) – Race One, started 12th, finished seventh; Race Two, started ninth, finished second; Race Three, started seventh, finished ninth: “Exciting F1600 racing, full of action, drama and insane passes, providing good experience for me as a first timer. I left Pittsburgh a better driver with great newfound friends and a weekend to remember.”
ABOUT TEAM PELFREY:
Dale Pelfrey’s race team, based in Palmetto, Fla., is built upon the same principles he used more than 35 years ago when establishing his business career – hire the best, acquire the best and expect the best in order to achieve the most. After fielding cars in the IndyCar Series from 1998 until 2000, Team Pelfrey was reformed in 2011, winning on its Pro Mazda debut and going on to earn the Team Championship as well as second and third in the drivers’ title-chase with Connor De Phillippi and Nick Andries. Team Pelfrey went one better in 2012, guiding Jack Hawksworth to the Drivers’ Championship and earning a second successive Team Championship. An expansion into the F1600 Championship Series for 2014 saw Ayla Agren, Garth Rickards and Augie Lerch secure the top three positions in the points table. The 2015 season also marks Team Pelfrey’s debut in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.