Sebring, FL. - ArmsUp Motorsports kicked off the 2013 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season last week at Sebring International Raceway. Rounds 1 and 2 took place Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. The Wisconsin-based team ran a four-car effort, with American racers Tim Paul and Andrew Hobbs, Canadian racer James Dayson and Brazilian Felipe Donato.
Heading into the race weekend, ArmsUp owner Gregg Borland held realistic expectations for his drivers. In a field full of USF2000 sophomores, the ArmsUp drivers were new to the race track as well as the race series. Lap times improved with each session, and each young driver showed consistent progress in race craft.
Brazilian racer Felipe Donato showed strong speed throughout the sessions. In qualifying, he made the top five, but a speeding penalty in pit lane forced him to start further down the field in 29th. In Round 1, he worked his way up through the field to finish in 19th. In race two, the young karter-turned-racer suffered contact and was forced to pull off in Turn 17 with a flat left front tire.
"Everything was positive with Felipe's driving," said Borland. "His driving is good and his driver feedback is terrific. We're very pleased to see his progress and the direction he's taking. He's definitely going to be a contender for the championship."
For Timothy Paul, the season-opening event marked his first time in a USF2000 race car, and the Kentucky native proved himself to be a great addition to the team. As the weekend progressed, Paul focused on learning and becoming comfortable with the car in order to have steady progression throughout the event. In Race 1, he gained two positions, and in Race 2, he earned the highest-finishing ArmsUp Motorsports position, earning a 15th-place finish after starting 21st.
"Tim Paul did a terrific job," said Borland. "He did exactly what he set out to do and I'm impressed with him. His expectations were right were we they needed to be. Going into St. Petersburg, his car comfort will be better and we can focus more on learning the race track."
Although Andrew Hobbs had raced at Sebring International Raceway previously with Skip Barber Racing School, the Wisconsin native was still reasonably inexperienced at the legendary track. Hobbs tested with ArmsUp once before officially joining the team, and before the race activities this week, Hobbs had gone five months without getting in a USF2000 race car. He used his off-season productively and put in some time over the winter in the Skip Barber Race Series. The young American progressed with each session, becoming more and more acclimated to the car. In Round 1, Hobbs ran consistent laps and maintained a position ahead of his start. In Race 2, he improved his race craft and gained seven positions during the event.
"I couldn't have been happier with where Andrew ended up," said Borland. "He drove perfectly, didn't damage the car and had a wonderful progression. He'll be in an even better position at St. Petersburg as well. He got used to the race car here and got a comfort level of the car so that when we head to St. Pete, he's going to be in a much better position to learn that race track and not focus on the race car anymore. "
James Dayson used his experience from select races in the 2012 season to better his on track performance at Sebring to stand on the second spot on the National Class podium for both of his season-opening races. Following the trend of his teammates, Dayson continued to lay down solid and consistent lap times to better his performance with each session. Dayson earned two second-place finishes at Sebring this week in the National Class, even gaining eight positions in Round 2.
Team owner Gregg Borland commended Dayson on his continued growth as a driver: "He improved every day that he was in the car last year, and he's on that same program this year. He's our least experienced driver and he's working on a lot of the basic fundamentals. He's getting better and better every time he's on the race track." Round 1, Sebring International Raceway
(Starting Position in Parenthesis)
P19 (29). Felipe Doato, Sao Paul, Brazil
P21 (23). Timothy Paul, Mount Kisco, NY
P25 (24). Andrew Hobbs, Milwaukee, WI
P27 (27). P2 in Class, James Dayson, Vancouver, BC, Canada Round 2, Sebring International Raceway
(Starting Position in Parenthesis)
P15 (21). Timothy Paul, Mount Kisco, NY
P20 (27). Andrew Hobbs, Milwaukee, WI
P22 (30) P2 in Class, James Dayson, Vancouver, BC, Canada
P25 (16) Felipe Donato, Sao Paul, Brazil
Next up, ArmsUp Motorsports heads to Rounds 3 and 4 at St. Petersburg, Florida March 22-24. Based in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin ArmsUp Motorsports is a full service prep shop for Formula Continentals, Formula Atlantics, and Vintage racing cars. For more information please visit the official ArmsUp website at www.ArmsUpMotorsports.com.