It was a weekend of firsts for the team as Rookie points leader Jack Mitchell Jr. scored not only his first win in the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship but also brought home the first win for the Piper Chassis as well as Honda’s first win in Canada in F1600 competition. Jesse Lazare in the second Piper DF5/Honda joined Mitchell on the podium with a 3rd place finish in his F1600 debut.
The Saturday round got off to an great start with a five-car train for the lead. Mitchell battled for 3rd with the cars of Steve Bamford and Caitlin Johnston with polesitter Sergio Pasian and veteran Shane Jantzi just ahead. Just before the midway point the two leading cars ran into mechanical problems, leaving the pursuing trio to then fight for the win. After a wild tussle for the win where all three took turns leading, it was Mitchell who held off a determined effort by Bamford through the final three turns who then spun, handing the runner up spot to Johnston and the following Lazare to take the final podium spot.
Sunday’s race proved to be a thrilling battle with no less than seven cars in a train for the lead. The race saw four cars take turns leading. With two to go, Jantzi’s car slowed with a tire going down and the battle for the win turned into a two-lap fight between the two BGR Team Grote cars and the rapid Johnston. It came down to a scramble where the three were virtually beside each other in the final turn and when the dust settled, it was the BGR cars in second and third with Lazare just beating Mitchell Jr to the line, all three cars were within 1/2 second at the line.
“What a great weekend for the team and our two rookie drivers. Jack gets stronger everytime we go to the track and his win Saturday was a little bit of history for our team as the first Honda powered car to win in the series and of course our first win with our new Piper chassis. Jesse did an outstanding job for his first ever car event. He improved every session and by Sunday was strong and ready to fight for the win with some very experienced drivers. Both of our drivers should be very proud of what they showed this weekend,” said team owner Brian Graham. “I have to say congratulations to Caitlin Johnston who got her first win in F1600. She started at the same time Kyle Marcelli and has now become a real contender. We are very happy with our Piper DF5/Honda package and feel we are just getting going with this and much more is yet to come.”
The team will be back in action at the next rounds of the Formula Tour 1600 event at Mont Tremblant July 5-8. Mitchell Jr, who is supported by Exclusive Management Inc., is leading the rookie standings in the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship and now jumps to a tie for second in the points. Lazare turned heads with an excellent debut in the Door Doctor-supported #21 with two fine podiums. There is little doubt that he will now be a regular podium visitor with his teamate Mitchell Jr.
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