17-Year-Old Is Formula Continental Champ
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. — SafeRacer polesitter Peter Portante 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 finished second, ahead of Robert Allaer.
“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 two 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.”