Twin tooth Drivers Have Mixed Results After Formula BMW Qualifying Friday at Mid-Ohio LEXINGTON, Ohio, May 19 - At first it appeared that 16-year-old Twin tooth Racing drivers Matt Lee and Robert Thorne had qualified third and ninth in Formula...
Twin tooth Drivers Have Mixed Results After Formula BMW Qualifying Friday at Mid-Ohio
LEXINGTON, Ohio, May 19 - At first it appeared that 16-year-old Twin tooth Racing drivers Matt Lee and Robert Thorne had qualified third and ninth in Formula BMW action Friday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Unfortunately Lee's car didn't pass the post-qualifying tech inspection so he was moved to the rear of the field, which in turn moved Thorne up to eighth.
Lee said the team would file an appeal, but a series official said he didn't think the ruling could be appealed.
Lee, of Syosset, N.Y., was fastest of all the competitors in the final practice session before the first qualifying session but if the appeal is not successful he'll have to come from the rear in the first race. The lap that was thrown out was the last one he ran in the session when he toured the 2.25-mile, 13-turn road course in 1:28.894 for an average speed of 91.444 miles per hour in his orange No. 44.
Thorne, of Sherman, Conn., improved his times dramatically since he arrived and he will start eighth in the same event thanks to his best lap in the 30-minute qualifying session, which was a 1:29.198 (91.132 mph). He drives the white No. 1. The cars are sponsored in part by Bumper to Bumper, Autoparts Warehouse, the Francis A. Lee Company, Matt-Con Services Corp. and Integrated Structures.
The top nine cars in the revised 26-car line-up were within 1 second of each other. Thorne was only eight-tenths of a second off David Garza's pole-winning lap of 1:28.372 (91.984 mph).
The qualifying session marked the first competition of 2006 for the Formula BMW USA series, which starts its third season with the first of seven doubleheaders this weekend at Mid-Ohio. The first race of the year is scheduled to get the green flag at 5:15 p.m. tomorrow. Qualifying for the second race will be held at 8:10 a.m. tomorrow morning to set the grid for that race, which will be held Sunday at 10:30 a.m. before the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) endurance sports car headliner.
The best laps of both young drivers came at the end of the qualifying session. Lee's best lap was the 14th and last one he ran, while Thorne's was the 18th of 19 laps he turned.
Lee only got 25 minutes to run in the qualifying session compared to most other drivers' half-hour. That's because Lee and another driver received penalties for a pit-lane incident that occurred in the Friday morning practice session. Lee took evasive action to avoid hitting a stopped car ahead of him, but both he and the driver behind him who hit the car were penalized for their roles in the incident. Lee's penalty was to lose five minutes from all subsequent practice and qualifying sessions at Mid-Ohio this weekend.
The track was resurfaced recently, a fact that pleased both drivers.
After a rainy day of testing here Thursday, the track was dry for qualifications Friday, although the temperature was only in the mid-fifties and it was cloudy. The weekend forecast is for partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low sixties.
Lee finished 12th and 16th in the Formula BMW USA races here last year. Last year both races were completed under the half-hour time limit, as 15 laps were run per event in a little over 24 and 21 minutes, respectively.
Thorne is a rookie this year in the series. Only two other rookies qualified higher on Friday: Garza and Sebastian Saavedra.
After the Mid-Ohio races this weekend the Formula BMW USA circuit travels to Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. for another doubleheader May 26-28.
More information is available on the Internet at twintooth.com, autotecnicagroup.com, formulabmwusa.com and midohio.com.
Post-qualifying quotes follow:
Matt Lee: "Of course the penalty would set us back; I had thought we were third and I was pleased with that. We plan to file an appeal.
"I got four wheels off in the dirt once during qualifying and ripped off the front skid plate. It happened in Turn 2B; I was by myself.
"I came into the pits for the crew to look over the car and then I came back out with a different set-up. It was better, but it was too late to get the pole.
"Now we may have to start at the rear. We'll just try our best both in the second qualifying session and in both races.
"I like the track surface. It's smoother and more towards the European-style now."
Robert Thorne: "Overall I'd say my qualifying session was good. For me, that was the fastest I've gone here so far.
"I've never driven here before but I saw the track last year. I walked around it last year when I was here, but with the track resurfacing now it's totally different. The camber and off-cambers are different; some of the corners are smoothed out.
"I didn't have any problems. I dropped a wheel off here and there, but that was it. I was just praying to do well.
"I think the reason my times improved so much in qualifying was that I was finally able to be on the track for more than five minutes in a row. With the rain, we had a lot of yellows and red flags in the other sessions. We finally got to run some laps in a row for the first time all weekend, and the momentum helped.
"I liked the way my car handled."