Maia takes first Barber Dodge win at Road America. (Elkhart Lake, WI) August 16-Leo Maia converted his first start from the pole in Barber Dodge competition into his first win in the category as he drove a flawless race, leading from flag to...
Maia takes first Barber Dodge win at Road America.
(Elkhart Lake, WI) August 16-Leo Maia converted his first start from the pole in Barber Dodge competition into his first win in the category as he drove a flawless race, leading from flag to flag at Road America to take the win over second place finisher A.J. Allmendinger and Josh Beaulieu in third.
Dan Di Leo finished fourth in the Elite Die Casting Reynard Dodge after starting from second as Mexico City, Mexico's Memo Rojas led a trio of Mexican racers in his Telmex machine to finish fifth, ahead of fellow Mexico City native German Quiroga. The finish is Quiroga's third consecutive top ten finish. Aurelio Lopez, of Guadalajara, Mexico finished seventh. Lopez ran as high as sixth from his 11th starting position before an off track excursion forced him to move up the field again to finish ahead of Rafael Sperafico. Sperafico, who won the Laguna Seca race earlier this season, was also forced to move up through the field after spinning off track on the first lap and rejoining the field in last place, setting the fastest lap of the race along the way with a 2:16.333 lap around the 4.048 mile track. John Vannini's ninth place finish is his second consecutive finish in the top ten, with Mid Ohio race winner Marc Breuers never getting a handle on his car all weekend on his way to a tenth place finish.
Maia, who won Barber-CART Big Scholarship to secure his place in the field for the 2002 season, was excited and relieved to take his first win after his season had not yet yielded the results he had expected of himself.
"Once I knew I had the pole yesterday, all I could think about was the start of this race," said Maia. "I was really nervous but I feel so relieved right now. I knew I was going to be competitive here, but I just didn't know if I could get the win. On the restart, I knew that if I could stay ahead of A.J. going into turn one, I would be fine and it was just a matter of building up a gap behind me and maintaining it."
Allmendinger, who secured the series championship last week at Mid Ohio, had a difficult pair of qualifying sessions, which resulted in him starting tenth, his worst qualifying performance of the season. The champion-elect showed why so many people are looking at him as a star of the future with a big drive up into second place despite a car that he felt was not nearly the fastest on track.
"This weekend didn't start out too well for me with not qualifying well and having a couple of incidents on track where I just made some mistakes, so getting second place is still a pretty good result," said Allmendinger. "We missed the set up and my car was pretty loose, so I didn't have anything for Maia after the restart and I had to work pretty hard to keep Josh behind me. I want to congratulate Leo on a really great drive, he's been fast here all weekend."
Josh Beaulieu, of Langley, B.C., made his first appearance on the podium in Barber Dodge competition in his first visit to Road America and is now looking forward to next weeks race in Montreal. Beaulieu is the only Barber Dodge driver to have raced at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve before, having won there last season in Canadian Formula Ford.
"I just want to thank my mechanic and the crew, because I wouldn't be here without their hard work. I love this race track and I am really excited to get my first podium in the Barber Dodge Pro Series here. I was just trying to be aggressive and make the most out of everyone else's mistakes out there. Now I can't wait to get to racing in Montreal, since I have raced there before, and its going to be a great week up there and I have a lot of confidence heading into the season finale."
While Maia's flawless drive did not provide any passes for the lead position, there was still plenty of action throughout the field for the entire 40-minute race. Maia timed the start perfectly to get a run from turn fourteen to the green flag and lead the field into turn one as the rest of the field jockeyed for position. Allmendinger made a big move at the start and went outside on turn one to pick up two spots. The field was bunched again as they moved to the tight hard braking area for turn five and Memo Rojas got inside of Dan Di Leo under braking in what would be the first of several position changes between the two throughout the race. Sperafico left his braking too late for turn five and locked up the brakes and hit the back of A.J. Allmendinger. Allmendinger and Sperafico were both able to continue, although Sperafico lost his shock cover in the transaction.
Sperafico continued to charge during the first lap, but it caught up with him as he spun at the exit of turn 13 and rejoined the field in last place. On the second lap, Di Leo returned the favor on Rojas, retaking second place in turn one as Allmendinger got inside of Cook for fifth. Maia began to stretch his lead as positions two through eight were in very close contact, running nose to tail.
Beaulieu moved ahead of Breuers on the fourth lap with an inside pass and Di Leo kept the fight alive with Allmendinger, having several looks inside under braking and keeping in Allmendingers mirrors as Maia continued to stretch out his lead over Rojas.
Further back in the pack, Atticus Missner and Morgan Davies put on a display of close, tight racing as they exchanged positions during the race with Missner ending up ahead. Allmendinger got by Rojas for second place, and began to try and reel in Maia, who had stretched his lead to more than four seconds.
Di Leo and Cook continued to battle for the fourth spot at every corner with Cook moving up to try and take third from Rojas. Di Leo then moved up ahead of Rojas with an inside pass into turn one. Further back, Breuers, Lopez, Quiroga and Vannini ran two by two, wheel to wheel, for several corners, with everyone leaving racing room from corner to corner in a fantastic display of the competitive nature of the Barber Dodge Pro Series.
On the tenth lap, Cook made an outside pass on Rojas as the two battled for fourth, but Rojas hung tough and the two ran side by side in the tight turn 12 and 13 complex. It turned out to be too tight as the two made wheel to wheel contact with Cook coming out on the short end of the deal, spinning off into the inside wall, which brought out the races only yellow flag, and erased the lead that Maia had established over Allmendinger.
On the restart, only seven minutes remained in the race, and Beaulieu made the most of the restart to take third from Di Leo and Sperafico also capitalized, moving up from 14th spot into eighth in the last two laps. Beaulieu began to pressure Allmendinger, taking several looks inside but was unable to find a way by as Allmendinger forced Beaulieu to try and take the long way around him into turn five, and was able to keep the second position. On the last lap, Mid Ohio winner and pole sitter, respectively, Breuers and Christian Szymczak ran side by side all the way from turn 12 through 13 and even through turn 14 with Breuers edging Szymczak tenth at the checker.
The Barber Dodge Pro Series will race again next week in the series season finale at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as part of CART's first visit to Montreal.
The Barber Dodge Pro Series is the Official Entry Level Professional Series of CART. The drivers utilize identically prepared single seat open wheel Reynard-Dodge racecars. Barber Dodge Pro Series provides a level playing field where driving talent, not financial resources, play the decisive role. This state-of-the-art platform, with its carbon composite construction, raised nose and 6-speed sequential gearbox, takes full advantage of the 265hp all aluminum Dodge V6 Intrepid motor that is exclusive to this series. Additionally, all of the Barber Dodges compete on identical Michelin Pilot racing slicks.
To ensure absolute equality for all competitors, the Barber Dodge Pro Series owns, maintains, prepares and transports all the cars and equipment. This serves to control costs while allowing the drivers to concentrate solely on developing their driving skills. The Barber Dodge Pro Series rewards those with dedication and skill with true financial incentive - an incredible $55,100 in prize money is available for each Barber Dodge Pro Series event with $13,000 going to the race winner. The overall Series Champion receives a $100,000 scholarship towards entry in the Toyota Atlantic Championship, and the series Rookie of the Year receives $185,000 in career enhancement funding. In total, the Barber Dodge Pro Series pays out over $1 million annually in prize money, contingencies and scholarships.