| Caitlin Johnston captured her first F1600 Championship win with an impressive victory in the 2012 CanAm Cup|
The chase for 2012 Toyo Tires F1600 Championship supremacy continued over the weekend (June 23-24) with Rounds Five and Six at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. In what was one of the most entertaining events in series history, rookie Mitchell Jr. captured the race one win, prior to veteran Caitlin Johnston securing the CanAm Cup victory in race two. Paul Bollenbach joined-in the post race festivities by sweeping the B class.
Returning to the high-speed Canadian Motorsports Park - formerly Mosport - road course just east of Toronto, the third event on the 2012 F1600 Championship was poised to be enticing affair, with multiple drivers in contention for top honors.
Following a Saturday morning qualifying run, which witnessed Sergio Pasian capturing the pole with a Toyo Tires qualifying lap record (1:29.942), the 16-car field lined-up for the opening race of the traditional CanAm Cup event. Drama, however, ensued before the cars even rolled away for the formation lap, as championship leader Steve Adams initially was unable to get going, before falling to the back of the pack.
When the green flag waved, Pasian held the lead position through turn one, with Shane Jantzi, Mitchell Jr., Steve Bamford, and Johnston in hot pursuit. Making the most of the immediate dicing for position behind, Pasian and Jantzi steadily built an advantage on the chasing pack. Just as it appeared the race would be a two-car affair, everything changed within a lap, as Pasian's engine expired, and Jantzi retired with overheating issues. This promptly promoted the three-car fight between Mitchell Jr., Bamford, and Johnston into a duel for the win. In what proved to an epic affair between the three Honda-powered cars, the trio each took turns out front. Coming down to the final three turns, Mitchell Jr. and Bamford went side-by-side through turns eight and nine, before Mitchell Jr. made the move stick in turn 10. Unfortunately, Bamford subsequently spun in turn 10, relinquishing him to an undeserved 10th place finish. Johnston, having managed to avoid Bamford in the last corner, crossed the stripe in third, while karting star Jesse Lazare crossed the stripe in third in his series debut. Tony Cove came home in fourth, while Adams earned fifth place class honors with a spirited drive from the rear of the pack, setting the fastest race lap in the process. Mitchell Jr.'s win marked the first win for a Honda engine car in Ontario FF history.
The fight for the B class win proved to be nearly as entertaining. While Bollenbach never relinquished the top spot, he was under constant threat from Keith Lobban and Jean-Guy Fournier, despite the later duo repeatedly swapping positions. Bollenbach in the end captured the class victory with a fifth place finish overall, while Lobban just edged Fourner at the checkered flag.
With the prestigious CanAm Cup trophy up for grabs in Round Six, Adams led the talented Toyo Tires F1600 Championship cars to the green flag on Sunday. As expected, the multi-car fight for top honors immediately heated up, with Jantzi leading a six-car train across the line for the first time. Over the course of the next few laps no one driver was able to break free, with Adams, Jantzi, and Mitchell Jr. all taking turns out front, and Johnston, Bamford, Pasian, Lazare within striking distance. Unfortunately for Adams, his chances of adding another win to his 2012 tally vanished on lap eight when he retired with a mechanical failure. The order up front further shuffled with three to go, when Jantzi - who had won five of the previous six CanAm Cups - suffered a flat tire while trying to attempt a pass for the lead, narrowly avoiding a multi-car crash. Johnston, having perfectly timed her run to the front, took over the lead just as the last lap board was displayed. With Mitchell Jr. and Lazare right on her tail, the fight for the victory once again came down to the final few corners. Johnston in the end held off multiple challenges through turns eight, nine, and ten to secure her inaugural series win in the CanAm Cup. Lazare was next to the stripe, followed by his teammate Mitchell Jr. Pasian came home in fourth, while Bamford set a new Toyo Tires race lap record en route to fifth place.
In a repeat of the opening affair, the B class dice for the win featured multiple cars. Lobban lead the first half of the race, before relinquishing the position to Bollenbach. Not far behind the duo, fans were further entertained by AJ Urbinati and Fournier repeatedly swapping places. When the checkered flag waved, Bollenbach had completed the weekend sweep, ahead of Lobban and Urbinati, who secured his first series podium finish.
In addition to capturing the CanAm Cup victory, Johnston was named the MK Technologies Driver of the Weekend in recognition of the her superb inaugural series win. She earns a $75 MK Technology certificate.
The 2012 Toyo Tires F1600 Championship season resumes on August 4-5, with a return visit to Canadian Tires Motorsports Park for Rounds Seven and Eight. Entering the doubleheader, Johnston leads (470-452) the A class title over Adams, while Bollenbach is at the top (544-352) of the B class standings, ahead of Lobban.
Full Round One results
Full Round Two results