ELKHART LAKE, WIS. (Sept. 22, 2013) – SafeRacer polesitter Peter Portante of Plainville, Conn., emerged from an early battle with David Grant to score victory in the Formula Continental® race Sunday at Road America, part of the 50th SCCA® National Championship Runoffs ®.
It was the maiden Runoffs race for the 17-year-old Portante, who averaged 102.997 mph after leading nine of 13 laps. Christopher Miller, of Edina, Minn., finished second, ahead of Robert Allaer, of Lithia, Fla.
“It’s a great trophy to have in a small trophy case,” Portante said. “It’s going to be a lot of work to keep improving, though. It’s good to win at such a young age, but you have to keep improving – you can’t plateau.”
Portante – driving the No. 24 Hoosier Tire/Innercity Lines Van Diemen RF01 Ford – spent the first half of the race challenging Grant, as they swapped the lead several times around the 4.0-mile, 14-turn track. They pulled away from Miller by several car lengths after five laps, and on Lap Six, Portante made the final lead change. He quickly established a six-car length lead, and never looked back.
“The beginning was quite interesting,” Portante said of racing Grant. “We were both trying to size each other up. I knew we had a really quick car, and I wasn’t sure where Grant sat at his overall pace. When he was in front, he would slow down in places you normally wouldn’t slow down. It was aggressive racing at its best. It was very clean. I stayed behind him for a couple laps to see where he was fast, where I was fast. I passed him in a section where I knew I was quicker, and pushed ten-tenths for three to four laps until I had the gap.”
Portante steadily opened his gap, and when Grant – who led four laps – hit the tire barrier in Turn 2 on Lap 10, Portante held a lead of more than 11 seconds. His margin of victory was 16.894 seconds over Miller, who drove the No. 84 Stockholm Motorsports Park/JDC Van Diemen Zetec. For his series of moves and lead battles with Grant, Portante was honored with the GoPro Hero Move of the Race Award.
“I made a lot of mistakes during this race, and there is still plenty to learn,” Portante said. “I’m still in my second year of road racing, coming over from stock cars and ovals. I’m learning the hard way. I’ve had a real up-and-down year, and this is a great result for everyone that has been around me. Hopefully this carries some momentum from this year into next year.”
Portante also turned the Hawk Performance Hot Lap of the Race – 2:11.353 (109.628 mph) – four hundredths of a second faster than his qualifying effort.
Like Portante, Miller – who started second – was also a rookie in the Runoffs. He shared the front row with Portante, but fell back on the start. That early mistake kept Miller from battling Portante for the win.
“I was hoping to give Peter a run for his money, and raced with them, but I made a mistake in (Turn) 1 and from there was playing catch-up,” Miller said. “I’m still pretty happy to be on the podium in my first Runoffs. I think Peter was in a class of his own, and did a great job all week. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to come back and try again and do one step better.”
Allaer, in the No. 52 Voss/Martini – LTD Motorsports Van Diemen RF02, spent much of his run in the top five after starting fifth. His only previous Runoffs start came last year, when he finished fourth.
“It was a very talented field,” Allaer said. “I had hopes of finishing on the podium, and I think I benefitted from a little attrition. I basically held the car together, and I did what I could do to finish in the spot where I was. These kids are fast, and they deserve everything that they got.”
Fourth was Todd Marrical of Havertown, Pa., in the No. 69 Scott Honda/K-Hill Motorsports Van Diemen RF06. He also earned the Sunoco Hard Charger award for advancing a race-high four positions. Jim Victor, of Davenport, Iowa, finished fifth in the No. 77 Smith Barner/ArmsUp Motorsports RFR F2000.
Follow all the live timing and scoring and get results at www.scca.com/runoffs. Live Twitter stream is available @SCCALive. Follow this weekend’s races on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SCCAOfficial.
The 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs®, The Pinnacle of American Motorsports, will crown Sports Car Club of America’s Club Racing National Champions at Road America, Friday, September 20 through Sunday, September 22.
The live broadcast of all 28 National Championship races will be available through Sunday at www.SpeedcastTV.com/scca and later available On Demand from the same site.
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Provisional results for Sunday’s SCCA Formula Continental (FC) national championship at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America, with finish position, starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (1), Peter Portante, Plainville, CT, Van Diemen RF01, 13.
2, (2), Christopher Miller, Edina, MN, Van Diemen Zetec, 13.
3, (5), Robert Allaer, Lithia, FL, Van Diemen RF02, 13.
4, (8), Todd Marrical, Havertown, PA, Van Diemen RF06, 13.
5, (9), Jim Victor, Davenport, IA, RFR F2000, 13.
6, (10), William Hoops, Mountain Top, PA, Van Diemen RF99, 12.
7, (11), Mark Dillon, Naples, FL, Van Diemen RF96, 10.
8, (4), David Grant, Germantown, TN, Van Diemen RF03, 9.
9, (7), Tonis Kasemets, Mundelein, IL, Van Diemen RF01, 5.
10, (3), Gerald D Szykulski, Edina, MN, Van Diemen DP08, 4.
DNS, (6), J.R. Smart, Fitchburg, WI, Van Diemen RF01, 0.
Overall Time of Race: 30:17.352
Average Race Speed: 102.997 mph
Margin of Victory: 16.894 seconds
Hawk Fastest Race Lap: 2:11.353
Fastest Race Lap Average Speed: 109.628 mph
Sunoco Hard Charger: #69 Todd Marrical
Lap Leaders: Lap 1, #24 Portante; Laps 2-5, #29 Grant; Laps 6-13, #24 Portante