Jack Mitchell Jr., from Claredon Hills, Illinois, is the 2012 Toyo Tires F1600 Championship Rookie of the Year. Aboard his #2 BGR/ Team Grote Piper DF-5 Honda, Mitchell Jr overcame a shift linkage problem during the Saturday (September 29) event to rebound and take second place in the final race of the season to secure the Rookie title. BGR teammate Zacharie Robichon enjoyed a superb debut aboard his Piper DF5/Honda to begin his openwheel career scoring a pair of top six results.
With the strongest field of the year taking the green flag for the season’s penultimate race on the four-kilometre, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park course, it was a typical five car battle for the top spot. Mitchell Jr. was right in the thick of things with his title combatants and just behind the lead pack, Robichon was getting up to speed nicely in his debut. Trouble struck for a few of the lead pack cars, one with a loss of oil pressure and another one spun and suddenly, and while running second, Mitchell Jr found himself with a shift linkage issue. With four laps to run. he finished the race with his transmission stuck in third gear. He dropped to 7th while Robichon picked up a Top Five result with an error free run to the flag.
The Sunday event was to prove to be a wild affair.
The championship on the line and Rookie of the Year still undecided. The wait for the end of the day race was worth it as once again it was a multi-car battle for the lead. Mitchell Jr was right in the thick of it as he swapped places every lap with his opponents. Robichon was also picking up the pace and getting quicker with every lap. The lead pack of 6 cars were never separated by more than two seconds and the crowd could sense it would come down to the last lap.
The final lap saw a pass for the lead in Turn 8 and then, as the six cars entered the final turn, the two remaining title contenders, each needing to beat the other for the title, had contact. Mitchell Jr. who was also trying to make a pass, suddenly had the door opened and he was through for the runner up spot and clinched the Rookie of the Year title in doing so. Less than two seconds separated the top five cars and Robichon, who had a race long battle with a former series winner, crossed the line in sixth for his second great finish of the weekend.
Marc Bishara had a strong weekend setting his personal best times during the Sunday event but a spin kept him from his possible best result of the season. Nevertheless, Marc has improved greatly this year and will look to move up the grid when the 2014 season begins. Kieran Murphy wrapped up his season with a 4th place in the F-1600- B Championship.
“I am happy for Jack for capturing the Rookie of the Year and a fine third place in the championship in what has been a very competitive year. He was as quick as anyone out there and has a bright future for sure. Zacharie had a great weekend, for his first car event and first trip to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, he did a great job. It is difficult to come into a series at the final event when everyone else has the full season under their belts but he showed speed from the get go and never put a wheel wrong. His times were quicker than the times set at the opener in May so that bodes well for next season.” comments team owner Brian Graham.
The team is enjoying its 7th consecutive Rookie of the Year championship in the Formula Tour series. With a partial season in the Quebec-based Formula Tour 1600 series this year, the team also captured some hardware there and looks forward to the 2013 season. It has been a very busy season for BGR Team Grote with races in the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship, the Formula Tour 1600 Series as well as the USA based F1600 Championship Series.
“While our season has ended the work does not. We have a private test this coming week before a trip to Watkins Glen for some meetings with some potential drivers and the series owners to explore a full on campaign in 2013. A trip to England for the Formula Ford Festival the week after with the Team Canada Scholarship program will bring and end to the season and the beginning of 2013 programs. I have to thank our long time sponsor Grote Manufacturing for another year of great support and Toyo Tires for supporting the OFFC and its drivers. I also have to thank Piper Race Cars and HPD for all the support they have given our team this season. The Piper has been a terrific car for us and we look forward to continued success. HPD has been nothing short of outstanding in its support of all the drivers who run their product.” concludes Graham.
BGR Team Grote has put more drivers in the winners circle than any other team in OFFC history and continues to strive to provide the perfect environment for karters to make the transition to the open wheel ranks. The winners of the past six consecutive years of Rookie of the Year will be looking to continue that tradition this season. To learn more about the team visit www.briangrahamracing.com.