The VARAC Vintage Grand Prix was host to round two of the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship Series calendar this past Father’s Day weekend and thirty-five cars took to the track at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. The vintage weekend is always popular with drivers and they didn’t disappoint with close wheel-to-wheel action throughout the field.
Returning to the grid after a year hiatus, 2016 A Class Champion Michael Adams (Van Diemen/Ford) of Flagship Racing was on hand to contend with current series leader Kevin Kapelke (Van Diemen/Ford) and returning shoe Craig Willis (Aero2/Ford) of AIM Autosport. The veteran showed no rust from the layoff as he scored a hat trick of wins in B Class, the first of the weekend doubling as an overall win in a race that ended under caution. Willis took the second step of the podium in each race with Graham Lobban (Van Diemen/Honda) taking a pair of third-place results and James Lindsay (Van Diemen/Ford) also climbing the podium over the course of the event.
A Class podiums saw three different winners as Jake Craig of Brian Graham Racing (Piper/Honda) scored the first ahead of Exclusive Autosport teammates Kellen Ritter and Spike Kohlbecker (Spectrum/Honda). Zachary Vanier of Britain West Motorsport (Mygale/Honda) and Marco Kacic (Spectrum/Honda) were also in the mix and followed the podium finishers to the line under caution.
Another full course yellow was presented during Race 2 on Sunday morning meaning a safety car period to lap nine. When the green flag was waved for a second time, a four-lap sprint to the finish ensued. In the end the top three were separated by just six-tenths of a second with Ritter edging Craig and Kolhbecker. Canadian racing legend Eppie Wietzes was on hand to present the podium awards – models of his Brabham BT42 Team Canada F1 car he raced at the Canadain Grand Prix in 1974.
The afternoon heat took a toll on drivers and cars in the final start of the weekend where just 27 reached the checkered. Mikhail Goikhberg (Piper/Honda) of Brian Graham Racing sat on pole after setting the fastest lap in Race 2, but there were many changes during the first few laps as the front of the field settled into three packs of two: Ritter/Kohlbecker, Craig/Adams and Willis/Vanier. After heading the field for twelve laps, Ritter and Kohlbecker then gave the spectators an exciting finish as a last lap, last corner scuffle led to contact with Kohlbecker coming out on top. Ritter was then second, with Craig third after drafting by Adams on the back straight on the last lap.
The series now heads to Shannonville Motorsport Park on July 7th for the CTCC Summer Challenge and round three of the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship Series. Ritter will be looking to stretch his 10-point lead over Craig, and after a win in the final race at CTMP Kohlbecker is hoping to close a 13-point gap to Craig. After two podiums at VARAC, Lobban leads the B Class with Lindsay 11 points back. Kapelke sits third after his hat trick of wins at the season opener.
The Canadian F1600 Super Series reached its mid-way point after the Montreal F1 Grand Prix and the VARAC Vintage Grand Prix opened the schedule and will begin its second half at Shannonville. Ritter currently leads here as well, by 23 points over Craig. The final event for the Super Series will be at GP3R (Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres) on August 10th and 11th.
Photos by Richard Coburn and Giancarlo Pawelec