Robert La Rocca was fast yet again. (photo: Valet)Millville, NJ – At the conclusion of two F2000 practice sessions on a very hot day at New Jersey Motorsports Park, it was Robert La Rocca on the top of the time sheets in the No. 10 HP-Tech Van Diemen with a lap of 1:19.054. Following the Venezuelan driver around the Thunderbolt track for the second practice were Kevin Kopp, Wyatt Gooden, Tim Minor – in the Citation chassis, and Niki Coello, in a RFR.

“The track is fast, and better without the chicane,” said La Rocca, who last drove New Jersey in a Skip Barber car. “We made some shock changes, and are trying to improve the setup before qualifying.”

La Rocca has won five out of six races thus far in 2012 – generating a runaway points lead, and just returned from Belgium where he contested a F3 race at Spa.

Kevin Kopp was second fastest in the final session of the day for the WISKO team.

“The car was really loose this morning and we couldn’t find any grip,” said Kopp. “We made some changes during the break and the car seemed to improve.”

Wyatt Gooden, the only other driver to stand atop of the podium besides La Rocca in 2012, was third quick in both sessions.

“I spent the first practice session testing out different lines on the track. I tried to use the same line I ran last year at this track in TDI Cup, but then I found the line for an open wheel car is drastically different. I expect to get a better feel for the line and the track as the weekend continues,” added Gooden, in the No. 6 Quantum Racing Services Van Diemen.

Minor and Coello rounded out the top five and were followed in the afternoon session by Colin Daley, Chirs Livengood, Zach Craigo, John Brumber and Paul Alspach.

Daley, the 15-year old Jamaican driver in his first ever F2000 practice session for Group A Racing was seventh quick, adding: “There was oversteer and it was not my best session, since we tested here a few times. For the second practice we tried different setups. The car is just a bigger gokart and as far as the traffic goes it’s all about judgment.”

WISKO’s expansion to three cars went as planned, with Kopp fourth in the opening practice session. Kopp is joined by Alspach, out of FE cars and just 18 years old, and Jason Rabe.

Rabe comes to F2000 from various SCCA classes including SRF, FM and DSRs. More interestingly, Rabe, 28, moved to the Millville area to work at New Jersey Motorsports Park as a flagger three years ago, living out of his car for a month.

“It was network, network, network,” he said. “I crewed for teams in exchange for seat time and now I’m an instructor at the club here.”

Making matters even more challenging for a few teams, including Championship leader HP-Tech Motorsport, was a summer storm that rolled through the paddock Thursday night, with high winds having their way with a number of awnings, one of which was found well down the front straight in the morning.

2011’s six-race-winner Kyle Connery has withdrawn from the weekend, citing car issues.

The weekend continues with Saturday morning qualifying at 8:50 a.m. and race one at 10:50, both feature live audio and updates on www.F2000Series.com, as does Sunday, with qualifying taking place at 9:00, followed by the conclusion of the F2000 weekend with race two at 3:50.

Practice Results:

Pos PIC No. Name Best Tm Best Spd In Lap Diff Gap
1 1 10 Robert LaRocca 1:19.054 102.462 4 - -
2 2 66 Kevin Kopp 1:20.550 100.559 9 +1.496 +1.496
3 3 6 Wyatt Gooden 1:20.769 100.286 8 +1.715 +0.219
4 4 81 Niki Coello 1:20.787 100.264 8 +1.733 +0.018
5 5 88 Tim Minor/M 1:20.937 100.078 9 +1.883 +0.150
6 6 13 Collin Daley 1:21.320 99.606 6 +2.266 +0.383
7 7 37 Chris Livengood 1:21.501 99.385 6 +2.447 +0.181
8 8 18 Zach Craigo 1:21.963 98.825 7 +2.909 +0.462
9 9 19 John Brumder/M 1:22.040 98.732 9 +2.986 +0.077
10 10 39 Paul Alspach 1:22.237 98.496 10 +3.183 +0.197
11 11 9 Jose Montiel 1:22.549 98.124 11 +3.495 +0.312
12 12 06 Tim Paul 1:22.949 97.650 8 +3.895 +0.400
13 13 5 Nick Palacio 1:23.947 96.489 5 +4.893 +0.998
14 1 47 Chris Monteleone 1:24.005 96.423 3 +4.951 +0.058
15 14 25 Jeff McCusker/M 1:24.275 96.114 3 +5.221 +0.270
16 15 99 Jason Rabe 1:24.654 95.684 13 +5.600 +0.379
17 16 67 Dave Weitzenhof/M 1:25.463 94.778 10 +6.409 +0.809
18 17 46 Doug Rocco 1:26.648 93.482 9 +7.594 +1.185
19 18 4 Dennis McCarthy 1:27.140 92.954 4 +8.086 +0.492
20 2 61 Tom Drake/M 1:28.104 91.937 12 +9.050 +0.964
21 19 90 Robert Wright/M 1:28.520 91.505 2 +9.466 +0.416

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