Kellen Ritter Debuts In Toyo Tires F1600 Competition With Three Podiums
BOWMANVILLE, ON (May 13, 2018) – Exclusive Autosport’s quartet of young drivers combined to provide the team with a very impressive start to the 2018 Toyo Tires F1600 Championship season at the BEMC Spring Trophy Races at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. The team’s drivers topped the 25-car field in both practice and in qualifying, and then swept the remainder of the weekend with Beaumont, Alberta’s Matthew Taskinen scoring all three main event wins. Exclusive Autosport dominated the podiums in the F1600 A Class, with Vancouver, British Columbia’s Kellen Ritter joining Taskinen in victory lane, scoring two seconds and a third. American Spike Kohlbecker finished in the top-four in all three races, and this run included a third-place podium finish in Race 1. The fourth member for the EA team – Canadian Marco Kacic – qualified on pole for the opening race, but damage from an incident in the first race was severe enough to sideline his car for the remainder of the weekend.
“The Exclusive Autosport F1600 drivers had a great opening weekend at the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship,” offered Michael Duncalfe, Exclusive Autosport team owner. “We are entering the series with four rookie drivers this year. Each one of them performed like veterans. We are extremely proud to walk away with three wins, seven of nine podiums and the pole position in the single qualifying session. The crew and drivers did an incredible job all weekend! We are looking forward to the opening weekend of the Formula 1600 Canada Championship in two weeks at Circuit Mont Tremblant.”
The only qualifying run of the weekend would take place on Saturday morning with a 20-minute session. Kacic dominated the field by backing up his fast laps every lap to earn him his first pole in the 2018 season, edging Ritter by just by 0.696 seconds. Ritter was on a mission of his own trying to lay down a fast lap to earn the pole, but came up just short to slot in the second position, which would put him on the outside of the front row for the opening race of the tripleheader. Taskinen comes into the season with minimal F1600 experience with the team from last year, and he threw down an impressive lap, putting him in the fourth spot. For rookie Spike Kohlbecker, the young American proved how talented he is behind the wheel as he qualified 8thin only his second time in the car.
The first race of the weekend proved to be quite eventful and unfortunately ended seven laps short due to a full course yellow. Kacic had been able to get the jump at the start and led the field around the iconic 2.459-mile road course. Halfway through the race, Marco and another car made contact as they battled for position in turn eight, and while he was able to continue for a few more laps, the damage was severe enough it caused him to retire. Taskinen was able to keep his nose cleanstarting from the fourth position, advancing to the lead to score the first win of his car racing career. Ritter had some action mid-race and was closing on Taskinen when the race went yellow. Kohlbecker showed maturity and patience, in his first F1600 race, and found himself on the podium in third place as a result.
The grid for the second race was set by the quickest laps in Race 1, which once again place Ritter on the outside of the front row. Taskinen launched from P4 while Kohlbecker started on the inside of row 4 in seventh. Just like in Race 1, the race ended early, this time by three laps. Taskinen was again able to stay out of trouble as he muscled his way to the lead to earn his second win of the weekend. Ritter maintained his place on the podium with a well-deserved third place run. Kohlbecker battled his way through series veterans, landing just off the podium in fourth.
The final race of the weekend ran for the full 15 laps and saw a three-car battle for the lead the entire race. Kellen hung onto it and capped his weekend with his third straight podium, finishing third. Again, Taskinen ran another dominant race, winning again to sweep the weekend and take the early lead in the series championship. Kohlbecker slotted into the fourth spot, gaining much experience that will enable to challenge for wins through the rest of the season.
Exclusive Autosport will now move onto the F1600 Canada Spring Classic at the beautiful Circuit Mont-Tremblant on May 24-27. The team will field three cars with Kacic, Ritter and Taskinen.
Exclusive Autosport is pleased to be able to partner with great companies, such as AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology (www.rethinkpaint.com), which is used on all their race cars.
KELLEN RITTER – #90 SPECTRUM F1600
Qualifying: 2nd– 1: 29.630
Race 1: Start – 2nd/ Finish – 2nd
Race 2: Start – 2nd/ Finish – 3rd
Race 3: Start – 2nd/ Finish – 3rd
Driver Quote: ““This past weekend was a bit lackluster. With the first two races having ended early due to unnecessary full course cautions, and the third race ending up with contact with two corners to go, I’d say it’s safe to say this weekend could have gone much better. But, we are getting faster, we have lots of space to improve and I’m happy at that fact. The Exclusive Autosport team did an outstanding job at preparing the car for each session and helping get me to the podium steps. The championship is long, and anything can happen. So, I have to keep my head up and keep pushing.”