(CLEVELAND, Ohio) June 30, 2001-Sepp Koster secured an utterly dominant second victory of the season in the sixth round of the 2001 Barber Dodge Pro Series in support of the CART FedEx Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland. The Dutchman stormed around...
(CLEVELAND, Ohio) June 30, 2001-Sepp Koster secured an utterly dominant second victory of the season in the sixth round of the 2001 Barber Dodge Pro Series in support of the CART FedEx Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland. The Dutchman stormed around the Cleveland-Burke Lakefront Airport in his Stora-Drain Dodge Reynard circuit stretching his lead from the pole seemingly at will and setting the fastest lap of the race in the process. He nets 22 points resurrecting his championship bid. American Matt Plumb jumped from third on the grid to second at the start and would remain there for the duration. In spite of a flawless drive in the Premier Nutrition Dodge Reynard, Plumb was no match on the day for the swift racecar of Koster. The second place points however place Plumb firmly in the title hunt as he leaps to third overall, ten points behind championship leader Nicolas Rondet. Gladwynne, Penn. native Marc Breuers drove his Sunoco Special Dodge Reynard to a career best third place finish.
The title chase certainly has tightened as the Pro Series heads for it's next stop at the Molson Indy Toronto. Rondet benefited from a bit of good fortune to salvage ten points and thus retain his lead. Once again Mr. Consistency, Roger Yasukawa drove a steady, solid race in spite of an injured hand to finish sixth and slot into second place in the overall standings, seven points behind Rondet and three ahead of Plumb. The beginning of the season was a near shambles for both Koster and Plumb, but both have managed to stake their title claim in the last two rounds. Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alex Sperafico, who once occupied second and third positions in the overall standings tangled in turn -1 along with Sara Senske. Both drivers have now slid back in the standings, yet are by no means out of contention.
"I must say that even I am a little surprised. We had a bit handling problem in qualifying when we put it on pole. We not only managed to solve the problem, but improve on it dramatically as the car was unbelievably hooked up. I've never driven a car that's handling this well," said Koster who is a former Benelux Formula Ford Champion.
"I didn't even realize in the beginning (how fast the car was) because I was just trying to pace myself and was really amazed at how much I was pulling away.
"For me I've always thought that the championship really begins in Detroit, so I'm looking forward to the balance of the year where we race with CART just about every two weeks," added Koster.
Koster led flag to flag with Plumb and Breuers in his wake for the duration. The real race was for fourth place. Peter Boss held off a determined Jon Morley and an inspired Christian Szymczak for most of the 40-minute race as the trio circulated almost in unison. With three laps remaining, the rain that had threatened, made its appearance turning the track into an ice rink. On the white flag-lap Boss had a wicked moment exiting a corner allowing Morley and Szymczak to get around. Boss would repass Szymczak momentarily but couldn't make it stick as he spun off into the grass. That allowed Yasukawa and Rondet through, but Boss would recover to finish eighth.
"I tried to put some pressure on Sepp in the beginning, but within two laps I could tell that he had something special going today. Rather than push it a little too far, second place will do wonders (for my title hopes). I hate to say that I'm ever content finishing second, but today it'll do," said Plumb.
Breuers had shown flashes of talent in the opening part of the season leaving one to wonder not if but when the breakthrough would occur. His performance over the weekend left no doubt that the day had come.
"It feels great to be up here, just awesome. I'm glad I could put the Sunoco Special up on the podium," relayed Breuers. "My confidence level has just sky rocketed this season. I've had enough time up at the front of the field to know that I can run with these guys and be a factor overall."
Rounding out the Top-10 was a career high finish for rookie David Wieringa in ninth and tenth for another rookie Davy Cook. Jay Ricci went from 19th on the grid to 12th earning him the Conseco Step Up Award worth $500.00
Round six will be televised on ESPN 2, August 14 at 6:00 p.m. EDT. The next Stop for the Barber Dodge Pro Series is in support of the CART FedEx Molson Indy in Toronto on July 15.
Top-15 in Points after round 6:
Rondet, 74; Yasukawa, 67; Plumb, 64; Hunter-Reay, 61; Koster, 59; A. Sperafico, 57; Breuers, 54; R. Sperafico, 48; Okamoto, 43; Boss, 44; Morley, 42; Cook, 38; Senske, 27; Szymczak, 27; Brusatin, 13; Wieringa, 19