Andrew HobbsPALMETTO, FLA. – Team Pelfrey’s defense of its 1-2-3 sweep of last year’s F1600 Championship Series began with tremendous promise last weekend as Andrew Hobbs claimed the pole for Race One of the triple-header at Road Atlanta, but ultimately ended with the team’s three drivers securing only a trio of top-10 finishes.

The Mygale-Hondas of Hobbs and teammates Ben Auriemma and Rob Megennis were among the fastest cars during practice on Friday, and continued that form into qualifying on Saturday morning. Hobbs posted the fastest time at 1:29.418 to claim the pole position with Auriemma a scant 0.205s second behind to ensure an all-Team Pelfrey front row. Megennis also displayed good pace, setting the fourth fastest lap before being penalized for causing a red-flag disruption during earlier practice. He duly lined up eighth on the starting grid for Race One.

Hobbs made a couple of errors in the opening race which restricted him to a seventh-place finish, but worse luck befell Auriemma (below right) and Megennis, who were involved in a frightening multi-car crash in Turn 10 on only the fourth lap. Both cars were rendered hors de combat for the remainder of the weekend.

The team did manage to procure the loan of another Mygale for Auriemma from rival team K-Hill Motorsports, whereupon Auriemma battled hard in the unfamiliar car to finish ninth in Race Two and seventh in Race Three.

Hobbs, meanwhile, experienced his own share of drama, battling his way to seventh in Race Two and then showing his true mettle by fighting for the lead in Race Three on Sunday afternoon before being involved in another incident with just a couple of laps remaining.

“Andrew put on a stellar performance in Race Three and was battling for the lead throughout,” said Team Pelfrey Team Manager Nigel Tuckey. “It was a disappointing weekend in terms of results but the pace is definitely strong and we can take away a lot of positives as we prepare for the next races.”

The F1600 Championship Series will continue with another triple-header at Watkins Glen International on May 15-17.

WHAT THE DRIVERS SAID:
Robert Megennis (#80 Team Pelfrey/Relayrides Mygale-Honda) - Race One, started eighth, finished 19th/DNF; Race Two, did not start; Race Three, did not start: “I was super excited after a great practice and qualifying, but gutted that a crash in Race One resulted in irreparable damage and ended my weekend.  We were fast though; I'm excited for Watkins Glen.”

Ben Auriemma (#82 Team Pelfrey/ACG Motorsports Mygale-Honda) - Race One, started second, finished 18th/DNF; Race Two, started 17th, finished ninth; Race Three, started ninth, finished seventh: “This has honestly been one of the toughest weekends I've ever had. I had been looking forward to this race for months, and even more so after the huge pace we had on Thursday and Friday. I missed out on pole position by a little bit, but Andrew and I locked out the front row for Team Pelfrey. Unfortunately, I had some terrible luck on the fourth lap of the first race, when a four-wide situation caused Rob to hit me from behind. Two of the three yellow cars were out with frame damage that couldn't be repaired for Sunday. I was very fortunate to be able to borrow a car from K-Hill for the final two races, but I honestly struggled in the different car and lacked the comfort with the equipment that I needed to get it to the front. I'm absolutely gutted that I couldn't reward all the guys at Team Pelfrey and K-Hill after they worked so hard to get me on track for Sunday. All I can say is that I promise we'll be back up front in Watkins Glen.”

Andrew Hobbs (#83 Team Pelfrey/Pulse/Master Tech/David Hobbs Honda Mygale-Honda) - Race One, started first, finished seventh; Race Two, started sixth, finished seventh; Race Three, started fourth, finished 15th/DNF: “This weekend was definitely a tough one for the team but I was ecstatic to score my first pole in the series. There has been a lot of hard work over the off season and it showed right away that we have the fastest cars. Unfortunately, I made a few mistakes in the first two races that hurt me. The third race was going great until I was hit in Turn 10 and couldn't keep going. I'm really happy with all the support from the team. I can't wait to get to Watkins Glen and show everyone what we're fully capable of.”