Marco Kacic’s Formula 1600 debut
In 2018 Marco will be competing in the Eastern Canadian Formula 1600 series. The opening round of the series is in May. Marco has been doing lots of winter testing at different tracks in order to prepare for the season. This past weekend we elected to enter an SCCA Majors Formula 1600 race at Road Atlanta in the USA to gain some valuable race experience before the Canadian championship starts. We didn’t know what to expect due to the fact that this was Marco’s debut car race on a track he has never been at before and against some very experienced and talented drivers. We were confident that the Exclusive Autosport team had fully prepared Marco for this event. On Saturday morning, Marco’s first practice session was in rain conditions. He was able to adapt and learn the track quickly and ended up posting the third fastest time. Later that day, the qualifying session was cut short due to another driver crashing. Marco was still able to post a time fast enough to place him 5th out of 26 cars.
When it was time for the race, the sun had come out and the team had put a full dry set up on the car. Marco would have to learn how to drive the track in dry conditions in the race. When they got the green flag, Marco wasted no time and quickly passed into fourth position. For most of the race, Marco held fourth with the leaders just a few car lengths ahead. With five laps to go, Marco made a mistake coming out of turn 10 and dropped a position. Marco quickly recovered and started to run down fourth position. Marco caught fourth place and made the pass with only one lap to go. On them final lap, fifth place tried to pass Marco back into turn one. The driver went into the corner too deep and lost control. As he was sliding off the track he collected Marco and they both went off the track and into the wall. It was a scary looking crash at a high speed section of the track. The other driver’s car ended up on top of Marco’s car but thankfully they both walked away from the accident. It was an unfortunate and disappointing way to end a solid fourth place run but the car being completely destroyed was even more disappointing.
Marco was cleared by the Medical staff to continue driving. The Exclusive Autosport team did an amazing job preparing the backup car for Marco so he could race in Sunday’s race. On Sunday, Marco had one morning warm up session to ensure that the backup car was ready to race. Sunday’s starting grid was set based on Saturday’s qualifying times so Marco was once again starting in the fifth position out of twenty six cars. Marco was a bit tentative going into turn one off the start of the race and lost a few positions. Marco slotted into seventh position and slowly started to make his way up the field. He made some aggressive passes and gained more speed and confidence in the new car with every lap. On his third lap Marco set the fastest lap of the race and was catching the leaders. A few laps later Marco made his move to take the lead of the race into turn ten. Over the next several laps, the top five drivers broke away from the rest of the field and started battling amongst themselves. Marco and the other four drivers were swapping position for the lead almost every lap. Unfortunately at about the half way point of the race, the top five drivers caught up to lap traffic and it separated them. The lap traffic allowed first and second to gap themselves from Marco who was in third position at the time. Marco did his best to start to close the gap but they once again caught some lap traffic causing the gap to grow again. Marco had a difficult time getting through the slower traffic and it caused him to lose two more positions. With only a few laps to go he was running in fifth position. He was now in an intense battle with third and fourth position. Marco pushed hard but finished the race in fifth position. He did hold the fastest lap of the race until the very last lap.
Marco achieved all his goals for his first race weekend. He also had many firsts: first race, first laps lead and first big crash. Marco showed that he has the speed to win, now he just needs to minimize his mistakes. Overall, it was a successful debut weekend.