CF Racing and driver Cory Cacciavillani made their 3rd trip to Rock Island, Illinois for the prestigious street race the Rock Island Grand Prix. After having had the speed to win in multiple classes the previous two years the team was hoping for the old saying “third time’s a charm” to be true. This year Cacciavillani would turn into a Rock Ironman running four classes; Briggs L0206, TAG Sr., Rotax Sr. & Leopard.
The schedule structure had practice sessions and qualifying Saturday with a warm up and final on Sunday. Qualifying would be critical with the unique schedule having no pre-finals and winners being decided in a once race winner take all show down. Out of the box Cacciavillani did not disappoint moving to the top of the charts in Briggs LO206 and TAG during Saturday morning practice before the rain came forcing qualifying Saturday afternoon to take place in challenging wet conditions.
In Briggs LO206 one of the largest classes of the weekend, Cacciavillani managed to qualify a respectable 6th despite the conditions. TAG Sr. qualifying would see him slot into the 10th position. In Rotax Sr., Cacciavillani managed a strong qualifying effort putting him in 4th position and Leopard qualifying would put him in the 8th position. A strong qualifying effort despite the wet conditions however the team knew if dry conditions would pull through for Sundays races Cacciavillani in his 7A machine would be fighting for victory in all four classes.
With clouds looming overhead and moisture in the air somehow the rain held off Sunday morning with the sun coming out in full force in the afternoon. Cacciavillani took full advantage of the dry and his speed was prevalent in the morning warm ups setting top 5 times in all classes.
The first class to roll out was Briggs LO206. After a brief autograph session on the main straight with fans the karts were lined up for a unique Le Mans style start (minus the sprint to the karts). Starting from 6th at the wave of the green Cacciavillani had a great start only to have another driver make contact with him dropping both of them out of the top 10. During the first few laps Cacciavillani managed to recover back to his 6th position before again making contact putting him well out of the top 15. He put his head down and over the course of the race managed to make his way back to 6th position while setting the second quickest time of the race of by only 1/10th of a second. A strong drive but disappointing finish considering Cacciavillani’s CF Racing machine had the speed to win.
Putting the disappointment behind Cacciavillani would next tackle the ultra competitive TAG Sr. division starting from 10th position. A great start would see him move up a few positions and set out to catch the leaders laying down fast times. With a blistering pace and three laps to go Cacciavillani battled his way into the 3rd position within striking distance of the leaders. Cacciavillani would fall victim to the streets of the Rock; while pushing the limits with little margin for error on a bumpy surface, his right rear tire just clipped a barrier on the exit of a turn bending the axle and throwing the chain ending his run with only two laps to go. With second place eventually falling victim to a barrier on the last lap Cacciavillani would have been slated to do battle with the leader for the win. In his move to the front he missed fast time of the race by only 4/1000ths.
Rotax Sr. would see Cacciavillani at the top of the charts again even while driving an unfamiliar Rotax package on Mojo tires. Starting 4th and battling into the first corner Cacciavillani managed to come out 2nd but the battle took its toll as the leader created a 3 second gap. Time wise Cacciavillani and the leader would go back and forth throughout the race each setting fast time and Cacciavillani holding it for a number of laps before being nipped for fast time at the end by 2/100ths. With both drivers running the same speed that initial gap of 3 seconds from lap one remained and Cacciavillani was left to settle with a second place finish. Post race technical inspection would see Cacciavillani’s second place finish taken away, with the final decision pending review while the part in question is examined by Rotax officials.
With three classes down the Leopard class would give Cacciavillani his final chance at a coveted victory at The Rock. Cacciavillani took full advantage of his speed in CF Racing Leopard powered Kosmic. Starting from the 8th position he moved his way through the field at a blistering pace setting fast time after fast time eventually making his way into the 3rd position. From there Cacciavillani really put the hammer down squeezing every ounce of speed out of himself and his machine setting a new Leopard track record with a blistering 33.337 and catching the leaders. Contact put the 2nd place runner into the barriers leaving Cacciavillani to do battle with the leader on the final lap. After an epic battle Cacciavillani rounded the final corner in 2nd position. Later in post race inspection the winner was disqualified with an engine infraction giving Cacciavillani a much deserved win and the right to say he had conquered The Rock. Cacciavillani is only the 9th foreign-born driver to win at the Grand Prix in its 18 year history.
“It was a great weekend for CF Racing. We’ve always been fast at Rock Island but it’s easy to have bad luck here and this year things went our way for the most part and we came away with a victory. Cory stayed focused and drove great all weekend and with four classes and all the drama it’s easy for a driver to get distracted. We really had potential to win all the classes we entered which really shows the quality of program Cole Cacciavillani has put together with CF Racing. ” – JP Frydrychowicz – long time tuner and driver coach
Running four classes CF Racing brought on Bob Williams as an extra tuner/mechanic and he played an integral part in the Sunday victory for CF.
Next on the schedule for CF Racing are the prestigious SuperNationals in Vegas where Cacciavillani will be racing in the ultra competitive TAG Sr. division.
CF Racing and driver Cory Cacciavillani are supported by CF Groups, G Force Engines, EngCap Management, Position 1 Fitness, J3 Competition, Paramount Power Systems, Remp Racing and The Pritchard Group (TPG). For more information on Cory Cacciavillani or CF Racing visit www.cfracing.ca .