With only one qualifying session before the first of the weekends two races the strategy was to simply get the cars as close to the front of the grid as possible and work on race set up.
With two of Canada's brightest young stars in the open wheel ranks at the controls of the teams Piper DF5 / Honda's the session started just as planned as both Scott Hargrove in his Analytic Systems supported machine and Dalton Kellett in the K-Line Insulators Piper ran well inside the top ten. Hargrove then got caught out by the damp surface and made contact with the wall damaging the right rear suspension and had to park and rely on his time with over 20 minutes left in the session.
Just a few laps later the same situation grabbed Kellett and he too was done and the pair were left frustrated as the track dried considerably and the times dropped dramatically. Surprisingly the duo still ended up 12th (Kellett) and 14th (Hargrove). It would mean a different strategy for the opening race, the first race would be used to advance as far as they could and set themselves up for the Sunday morning race.
With two entries in the Pro category, BGR Team Grote also had a strong line up in the Masters division.
Jason Bedasse in his Tallawah Piper DF5/Honda was making his first start outside his home series in Ontario and Montreal native and second year BGR driver Marc Bishara was aboard the former overall winning car from BGR's stable supported by Apotex. Both drivers did a great job in qualifying and sat among the top 5 in the Masters class with the podium within reach.
The race Saturday was exciting from start to finish, with battles for the overall lead right through the entire pack.
Hargrove and Kellett attacked from the start and despite their starting spots advanced through the field to claim the final spot on the podium with Hargrove and Kellett right behind him in fourth., a fantastic result for the two and a great starting spot for the Sunday race.
Making it two podiums on the day for BGR Team Grote, Bishara finished third for his first podium of the season. Bedasse running as high as thir,d during the race suffered a late spin but recovered to finish sixth.
"Friday put us behind from where we wanted to be for sure but they guys recovered beautifully and never put a wheel wrong as they both made their way through the field. Just a shame to start from so far back but they showed the racecraft and speed we knew they both had. Starting from the second row Sunday will let us challenge for the win," commented team principal Brian Graham.
Sunday morning came and the excitement built as we headed to pit lane for the start of the final race.
Unfortunately the start was delayed due to damage to the track from the race before us and we sat in pit lane as the lengthy repairs were completed. The series advised the teams that the race would be shortened but the exact time was not determined, that would mean an all out attack from the green would be on everyones mind.
Then the unthinkable happened, as at the command to start the engines, Hargroves car refused to fire. Frantic work to get it going and assistance from some of our competitors failed and the field headed out on the pace lap without him.
Finally, as the pace lap was almost complete the car came to life and Scott would have to start from pit lane once the famous set of lights at pit exit went green.
The race went green and the agony of waiting for the pit lane light to turn green as the field and chase car were fully through the first set of corners was almost unbearable to watch. When it did go green Hargrove took off on what would become the drive of the day.
On the track Kellett was determined to uphold the team flag as he fought his way forward, first passing the second place car and then used the draft to outbrake the leader and claim the top spot to lead the first lap. With Kellett leading, the safety car was sent out for an incident and the field circulated as the track was cleaned up.
With the race time being cut, this was not what Hargrove needed.
The clean up was quick and the green flag flew with Kellett leading, the chasing two cars being teammates gave them the advantage to work together and they drafted past Kellett. Not going to give up Kellett fought the two but a mistake in the hairpin and brush with the outside guardrail put an end to a very promising run, and he was forced to retire the car to pit lane.
The race did indeed end early, the eight lap race (with two behind the safety car) made the drive Hargrove put in even more impressive. He set fastest lap and in fact the fasted race lap of the weekend even in the heavy traffic and was clearly the quickest car on track.
The Masters class was also putting on a good show and entering the final lap the two BGR drivers were fighting for the final podium spot and as they tried to outbrake eachother at the final turn they both spun! Bedasse recovered quickly to finish third and get his turn on the podium making it three out of four BGR drivers visiting the podium over the weekend.
"Utter disappointment for Scott and his parents, I am very confident that it would have been a very different race for the large group of spectators who were on hand. We are still working out what exactly happened and will make sure it will never happens again. He never complained and just got back in his race mode and put in a stunning drive, an absolute professional."
"Dalton made us very proud and although he didn't get the result we wanted he did lead at the F1 event and if he had his teammate to work with it I am sure would have been a different result. The sport has many WHAT IF situations and this weekend we certainly got our share. We had the quickest car/driver combination but just didn't get it done and that is what is so tough to deal with. Both our Master class drivers got on the podium and they did a great job, very happy for Marc and Jason. A big thank must go to Marcel Lafontaine and his group of officials from the Formula Tour 1600 Series, it is always a fantastic event to attend." said Brian Graham.
The team now shifts its focus back to the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship and the next rounds at CTMP on June 22-23. BGR Team Grote driver Zacharie Robichon not only leads the rookie points but also the overall Championship. Robichon, Bedasse, Bishara, and Kieran Murphy will all be back on track and a fifth driver will be announced shortly.
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 seven 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 and follow us on facebook https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/144083092268782/
From: BGR/ Team Grote PR