SONOMA: The fabulous outcome
Sonoma was the last step of the 2014 championship in USF2000. Florian arrived with a comfortable lead of 30 and 33 points ahead of his next two closest opponents to obtain the title. At the end of a weekend like something out of a Hitchcock scene, and after a third victory, Florian became champion of the United States 2014.
Situated in the middle of vast vineyard sprawls, the Sonoma region looks nothing like "Entre deux Mers" - a region Florian would be more used to! The dry and hot weather welcomed those who joined the last Grand Prix of the season all in spite of a large but unharmful earthquake.
The different test series showed that Florian's potential and level could be counted on with a car as prepared as always by Team Cape Motorsport for this final meeting, as Florian succeeded in getting the best time each lap. The expected duel with Enerson didn't disappoint. The most important test in the qualifications started immediately. Enerson chose to use two sets of new tires so as to get ahead of Florian contrary to our driver who preserved a set for the races and confirmed once again his superiority at the first time of asking. The strategy was the correct one as Florian finished in pole for both races.
On the starting line of race 1, everything was going smoothly: pole position, 33 points ahead, and in high spirits. Unfortunately, fifteen seconds later, on the second bend, everything fell apart. Florian surprised Enerson at the start and seized the lead at the first turn but he is hit on the turn by an opponent and finishes in the wall with his car destroyed. All he can do is watch on as Enerson's car crosses the line as the winner. At the end of the race he declared "this is racing, I lost control on a curb and couldn't avoid Latorre"!!!
Race 2 on Saturday therefore became decisive for the championship. No other alternative than to win. Florian thus started the race in pole position but with only 4 points lead. To avoid another race accident, Florian chose to change sides on the starting line. This time it's Enerson who takes the lead on the first bend but Florian is hot on his heels. The two adversaries quickly break away from the rest of the pack and the combat begins. Florian is a lot more precise and efficient in the technical parts of the course, imposing a constant pressure on his opponent but the engine power of Enerson allows him to compensate on the straights. Confident in his possibilities and now his presence of getting past Enerson, Florian finds a flaw 4 laps from the finish with a superb attacking maneouvre which surprises Enerson on the hairpin of bend 7. So good, it was even good enough to earn Florian the Relay prize XD which acknowledged the best piece of action in the race. From there, Florian escaped without looking back and increased his lead by 3 seconds 2 laps further on. All that was left to do was to handle the situation until the finishing line and finish the last lap as winner.
Florian thus won the United States championship 2014 USF2000 category with 3 victories, 10 pole positions and 8 podiums out of 14 races.
Time now to prepare for the 2015 season with the first tests held mid-September in Indianapolis and of course not to forget return to school with CREPS on the 31st August.
MID-OHIO: Florian becomes established and distances himself from the competition in the championship
The penultimate meeting in Mid-Ohio seemed complicated and competitive when looking at the small points gaps between the three main contenders in the championship. Florian hit the hairpin perfectly and went away with three poles then 2nd, 4th and 1st place respectively from the three races. Globally, he widened the gap on his two main opponents to 30 points before Sonoma.
The official trials for the month of June had shown that Florian was to be counted on on a very selective circuit and he confirmed this in the free trials on the Thursday. Whilst still on a dry circuit but with threatening weather, serious things were due to start on Friday. Still well placed in the course of the last trial sessions, Florian established himself during the time trials with another pole position which gave him a 100% record since April.
Unfortunately in race 1, he mis-timed his start and lost two places on the first lap before the safety car intervened. During the race restart, he quickly reached and overtook the Canadian Burkett and went off in pursuit of Enerson. He was progressively gaining but as the rain started, Florian was obliged to back off so as to not take any risks in the final laps, preferring to assure the points for second place.
Race 2 on Saturday in race 2 in the rain, Enerson again overtook Florian at the start then followed by a small spin, Florian lost another two places. In these extreme conditions, the bumps started to stack up and race exits followed. Nontheless, Florian kept his cool and finished in 4th place at the finish whereas Enerson went back down to 8th.
Just race 3 left then on Sunday as the opening for Indycar and this time Florian got ahead of everyone at the start and irretrievably escapes lap after lap without the slightest opponent that can compete in any way. 4 laps from the end, the safety car is brought back out onto the circuit until the end of the race where Florian led by 7 seconds. He obtained his 2nd victory of the season with the best lap in the race and a 2 point bonus.
The only meeting to offer 3 races to the drivers, Mid-Ohio was the penultimate fixture on the calender which could have been decisive, but especially Seul meeting à offrir trois courses aux pilotes, Mid-Ohio en avant dernier sur le calendrier s'avérait l'épreuve qui pouvait être décisive ou presque mais surtout eliminatory in case of error for the obtention of the 2014 title. Going it solo in race 3 associated to 2nd and 4th places, allows Florian to avoid the traps and conserve the head of the championship all while gaining his lead to 30 and 33 point on his two nearest competitors who can still threaten him for the title.
Last meeting on the 22 and 23 August in Sonoma for the distribution of the remaining 65 points...
TORONTO: Florian takes charge in the USF2000 championship
With two pole positions, a victory and a second place, Florian wins 59 points from a maximum possible of 65 during the course of the Toronto meeting and seizes the lead of the USF2000 championship with 16 out of 23 points advance from his competitors.
The free trials on Friday didn't separate Florian and Enerson who each took their turn with best times by one hundredths of a second. But at the end of the day for the qualifying, it as like chalk and cheese. With a double pole for Florian, leaving his main adversary 4 tenths behind and thus winning his fourth qualification in five meetings.
Race 1 took place on rain tires. Florian got off to a good start and kept control in spite of several safety cars, but following on from a mistake on the penultimate lap, he lost the race lead and finished second with 3 bonus points from the pole, the biggest number of laps in the lead and the quickest lap in the race.
The weather conditions improved for race 2 which allowed for departure on a dry track. Enerson found himself under pressure in the ranking after race 1 and began hostilities on the first lap and seized the lead until midway through the race. he then gave the lead away due to Florian's attacks, committing a fatal error and forced to abandon after contact with the wall. Florian started to widen the gap between himself and his pursuer but a safety car at the end of the race tightened everything back up, meaning a new start two laps from the finish. Florian didn't commit the same error as in race 1 and conserved his advantage to finish the race.
Next meeting in Mid-Ohio from the 1st to 3rd August for 3 races.
" After the mistake this morning, I had to win this one. I am very happy for myself and for the team. The race was difficult because of the restart. Each time, I opened up a gap and I was getting slowed up in the restart, so it was complicated but I had a good car which helped me well."
LUCAS OIL RACEWAY: The pole, the 6th place and 12 points gained in the overall ranking
Before the Indianapolis 500 mile challenge, the USF2000 gave way to the neighbouring oval circuit. To prepare for this challenge, the drivers benefitted from 3 trial periods and two others on Saturday. Florian gifted himself the first then continued to monopolize the front with two top 3 positions.
The Saturday was more dedicated to preparing the timing on the oval circuit.
The pole position finally came back to Florian for the 3rd consecutive time in 43.5315 - the equivalent of two laps quicker than any of the other drivers. These individual times rolled out with a one lap head start and only two timed laps, allowing for no error of judgement.
As usual, Florian attacked from the start of the race, but this time from 3rd place. Florian took the lead early with the best time. He built up enough of a gap to even start overtaking the drivers at the back of the pack. It's at this moment that Florian progressively loses time in the overtaking manoeuvres that pushes Florian back to 6th place.
Torn between a desire for the podium and banking points for the general ranking, safe with the knowledge that his main rivals were behind him, Florian chooses not to take any risks. (Perhaps a little too prudent nonetheless...)
The results of the only race of this meeting remained nontheless favourable even if we could have hoped for better. We were left with 12 points gained on the leader, that's to say a return of 9 points on him, at exactly the halfway point in the championship and a gain of 5 extra points on 3rd place in the rankings.
The next meeting is now planned in Toronto for two city races, on the 19th and 20th July.
While waiting, the trials are planned in June and at the start of July to continue with the launch to first place in the general rankings.
INDIANAPOLIS : The rise in the overall rankings begins!
After his start with Cape Motorsports two weeks ago, Florian found his new team with a perfect car to fight at the front of the group and with an objective to trise to the top of the overall rankings. The deficit at the start of the season being 41 points, two big results became imperative.
The two days of practice trials comforted everybody because Florian was the only driver to finish in the first three positions out of the four sessions. With sunny weather, performance and regularity, everything that you would expect at the start of a double confrontation awaited the drivers.
The weather changed the situation in the qualifying. This didn't prevent Florian from hitting the heights again on a drying track lap on lap. At the end of the session, he established the best time and therefore pole position with almost 4 tenths advance on his runner and also gave himself the second best time of the session which could have placed him in pole for race 2 on the premise that the time wouldn't be improved on race 1.
Heavy showers and a wet track before the start of race 1 obliged for a start on rain tires. Florian held on to first place on the race line but committed an error at the first corner which forced him on to the grass. He came back into the race in 6th place. A little later, during the neutral period, the drivers at the back of the pack or with no objective in the general ranking announcing that the track was drying, passed by the stands to change to slick tires. This allowed them to put in a performance and found themselves at the from of the grid for race 2. At the restart, these drivers recovered back up to the front of the pack where Florian also gained back several places. However, the gamble paid off for the drivers with the newer tires who were driving 3 seconds a lap faster. Nevertheless, Florian crossed the line in 4th position with big points but in view of the particuar circumstances of this race, he had to be happy with a start from 8th position for race 2.
After a result taranished by an error denying him some extra points in race 1, Florian started on Saturday with the bit between his teeth. Thanks to a very good start and a very solid race, Florian climbed progressively to the front of the race. He caught up to the leader and without being able to overtake him, finished behind with just a small deficit of 3 tenths of a second over the line. « Starting off from 8th position, we had decided with the team and my coach to take away a lot of the aerodynamics to be more efficient on the straights in order to gain places. That made it complicated on the more technical parts of the course. I therefore never succeeded in finding the race leader's weakness who never made a mistake."
The unpredictable conditions of this weekend were made very complicated for the teams and their drivers. Florian and Cape Motorspor performed very well to cut the lead deficit in half (21 points to go) and took 7 poins advance on 3rd place with 8 races still to go.
Next race on the oval circuit of Indianapolis on the 24th May 2014 for the opener of the 500 Miles Indianapolis Indycar.
BARBER: 2nd meeting of the championship and 2nd podium !
Three weeks after St. Petersburg, the second round of the season took place at Barber (Birmingham, Alabama). Florian, who during the interlude, left Belardi Auto Racing, joined Team Cape Motorsports. No preliminary trial had been organised due to lack of time but everyone worked hard during the weekend to perfect the car and glean a maximum number of points.
The first three trials weren't anything to write home about. Especially as in the first time trial, the team needed to run in the gear box, disks and brake pads. For the following, however, Florian is already up at the top with a 1st and 2nd place. The times are the reflection of the trials and allowed Florian to get into first place, in spite of the beginnings of a breakdown which unfortunately would not be resolved before race 1.
In race 1, Enerson stole the race start, taking the lead in the race before even crossing the first section of the race. The fuel pressure problem encountered in qualifying became increasingly annoying and penalised Florian who couldn't manage to fight enough to secure victory. In spite of everything, he kept his second place until the finish and therefore took his second podium of the season!
Race 2 started difficultly as Florian, penalised by his engine problems in race 1, was only ranked 6th in time order and had to start off from the third line of the grid. Cape Motorsports resolved the problems and Florian departed with a very efficient car. Unfortunately, he experienced great difficulties getting rid of the driver in front of him, adding to a Safety Car, with only 3 laps to go to the finish. The performance being optimal, il caught up to the leading group in two laps but it was already the end of the race. The second best time in the race by 100th of a second, everything is now in place for his new team.
Florian adapted well and is very motivated to battle it out in the next meetings. Starting with Indianapolis on the 9th and 10th May. In spite of a mechanical concern, Florian got himself into second place, equal to his teammate in the overall rankings.
SAINT PETERSBURG : Launch of the USF2000 championship for the 2014 season.
After the Winterfest, the regular season started with races 1 and 2 at Saint Petersberg the 29th and 30th March. No big changes in the pack, Florian's adversaries remain the same as a month earlier.
The two trial sessions give Florian the same position (4th place). The work of the Team didn't allow for Florian to compete among the quickest, nonetheless Florian obtained the best results of the 4 drivers in the team. Still missing 3 or 4 tenths of a second to find...
Qualification allowed for a similar result: Still 4 tenths slower than pole position and still the best placed of the team but this time it's 7th place on the grid for race 1, and 6th place for race 2. This isn't satisfying and Florian would have to battle to improve in the course of the next two races.
Saturday for race 1, it's hurricane like weather as only Florida knows as the circuit became completely flooded just before the start of the race and obliged the drivers to begin in very difficult conditions. Starting from 7th place, the visibility was practically zero. After a few laps, and short of benchmarks, Florian committed a near fatal error and spun over several white lines of the circuit but recuperates and continues from 12th position. Pulling his way progressively back up the ranking, he gets back up to 7th position at the finish.
After the rain, the good weather: Sunday will be hot and sunny for race 2 with a dry track this time. A super depart from Florian propulsed him into 4th place as early as the first bends then, on the turn, he edged into 3rd place and had to fight like a devil to consolidate this position until the end of the race. Largely in front of his teammates, he couldn't hope for better in view of the performances of his car.
The next meeting on the Barber circuit in Alabama should see Florian with more refined material to compete at the front...More photos - More videos
WINTERFEST : Encouraging pre-season preparation
A very encouraging start of the season for Florian Latorre, in his new team. After the winter tests, this small pre-season championship - Winterfest, took place on two different circuits, first of all in Nola on the 21st and 22nd February then on the prestigious Barber circuit on the 25th and 26th February.
The first weekend took place in dry weather and despite several encouraging trials, it was of no importance to Florian, who, following on from engine problems just after the first free trial sessions, couldn't build anything up for the rest of the weekend. As the team lacked solutions, the three races were difficult with the only objective being to handle as best as possible to score, in spite of everything, a maximum number of points. By finishing 9th, 6th and 10th respectively, the most important thing was obtained, but the team needed to find a solution for the next step 3 days later.
After a motor change for the second meeting, Florian found his performance level again. Even if not everything is perfect, Florian was good enough for the podium. The qualifying allowed him to glean 3rd place on a dry track but the time was particularly threatening. The following morning for race 1, it's the rain that awaits the drivers, though this didn't bother Florian as he gained a place a few laps after the start to win his first podium of the season on just the second round. Race 2 on a dry track allowed him to get on the podium for the third round, though Florian finished race 3 in 5th place.
History will remember that Florian finished 4th in the overall ranking of this Winterfest 2014, showing some good things in his preparation and his performances, but there's still a lot of work for the team to do to get up to speed with the car and internal organisation. More photos - More video
CHRISFFIS MEMORIAL OPEN TEST : The hard work starts to show
After some private tests at the start of the winter allowing each driver to get their bearings in the team, Florian Latorre tarted to feel very much at ease with his entourage in the team. Brian BELARDI, owner and team manager are very confident about the capacity of Florian and gave him a very competent engineer along with their best mechanic.
The 9th and 10th December 2013, the first official tests took part in Barber with the CHRISFFIS MEMORIAL OPEN TEST. The weather wasn't ideal, so the team needed to prepare for a slippy surface which slowly became dryer as the day went on. For this reason, the first comparisons with his adversaries were difficult ; it's not possible to gain any first conclusions in these conditions but the work done helped the team to advance with improving the car before it left the garage for a complete revision for the pre-season.
Concerning Florian, he was present at the front of the qualifying at every opportunity whatever the conditions were and without using new tires. The performances were therefore very interesting and comforting for all of the team for the next Winterfest which will take place in February 2014. More photos