ARA Racefacts Bulletin 97-10-21

AUTO RACING ANALYSIS RACEFACTS BULLETIN October 21, 1997 Professional Sports Car Racing introduced a new event, the Sebring Octoberfest, on Friday and Saturday October 17 and 18, 1997. Antonio Hermann and Andrea Montermini in...

AUTO RACING ANALYSIS RACEFACTS BULLETIN October 21, 1997

Professional Sports Car Racing introduced a new event, the Sebring Octoberfest, on Friday and Saturday October 17 and 18, 1997. Antonio Hermann and Andrea Montermini in the MOMO Ferrari won their third 1997 World Sports Car event and second consecutive victory. The MOMO duo won by 35.131 seconds over the Fredy Lienhard/Didier Theys Lista Ferrari 333SP; the runnerup finish for the Lista Ferrari was its best result ever! The Dyson Ford R & S Mark 3 #20 finished third with the Morgan Ferrari fourth as four WSC cars finished on the lead lap with three more only one lap down! The race had five leaders (the #16 Dyson led the most laps, 26, followed by 13 laps led by the #3 Morgan Ferrari, nine laps-the final nine!-led by the MOMO Ferrari, five laps led by the #20 Dyson entry, and one lap led by the Lista Ferrari) as five cars produced eight lead changes in two hours! Ford thus led 31 laps, Ferrari 23. Porsche won GTS-1 and GTS-2 in the Exxon Supreme GT race, with BMW taking GTS-3 in a sweep of the top three positions! The Rohr Racing Porsche effort saw Rohr won its fourth consecutive race; Pilgrim took his fourth consecutive win while Scotsman Allan McNish won for the third consecutive race! The GTS-1 finish was Porsche-Ford Panoz-Oldsmobile Aurora-Ford Mustang-Porsche 911 Turbo-Oldsmobile Cutlass as five marques and six models finished in the top six GTS-1 spots! The top three cars were on the lead lap with the Porsche beating the Ford Panoz by only 3.794 seconds! Larry Schumacher and Price Cobb won GTS-2 driving the Quebecor Porsche 911 Turbo with archrivals Franz Konrad and Nick Ham second on the same lap! BMW finished 1-2-3 in GTS-3 with Marc Duez and Bill Auberlen winning by a lap over their teammate PTG BMW cars one lap down in second and third. Ford and Ferrari had established a pattern in the first five 1997 WSC events with Ferrari taking Sebring and Lime Rock and Ford taking Daytona, Road Atlanta and Watkins Glen as the sequence had been Ford-Ferrari-Ford-Ferrari-Ford! Ford ended that sequence with a second consecutive win by winning at Sears Point! Ferrari, however, bounced back with victory at Mosport Park! Ford won at Las Vegas, but Ferrari bounced back at Pikes Peak and won again at Sebring, making the score Ford five, Ferrari five! While all five Ford wins have been scored by the Dyson team's R & S Mk III chassis, the five 1997 Ferrari victories have been taken by three different teams, with the MOMO Montermini/Hermann effort the only three-time (and in fact, multiple) Ferrari winner! Porsche became the first five-time 1997 GTS-1 winner! Porsche has won all ten GTS-2 events while BMW leads Porsche, now by 8 to 2, in 1997 GTS-3 wins! Marc Duez was the only Exxon series first-time winner in any class at Sebring. WSC, GTS-2 and GTS-3 were won from the pole! The GTS-1 winners started second in class. WSC had four lead-lap finishers, GTS-1 three, GTS-2 two, while GTS-3 was won by one lap! Andrea Montermini and Antonio Hermann won 1997's Sebring Octoberfest WSC event, scoring Ferrari's fifth 1997 win, MOMO's third, and giving the duo the honor of being 1997's first three-time racewinning Ferrari WSC effort! The MOMO team is 1997's second multiple racewinning WSC team, joining five-time winner Dyson Racing! The MOMO team now has a two-race win streak and joins the Dyson team in achieving a 1997 WSC win streak. Montermini's win was his third in only eight starts (nine appearances; he was FQ but Did Not Start one event), all in 1997! Andrea's efforts have produced five Top Three "Podium" finishes, five Top Five finishes, and six Top Ten finishes. He has been Fast Qualifier 4 times and has set Fast Lap in seven races! Andrea leads all 1997 WSC drivers with 4 FQs; he also achieved the second 1997 WSC "Sweep" of FQ, Fast Lap, and Victory, joining his "sweep" at Pikes Peak! Hermann scored his fourth win in 17 Exxon series starts (23.5%), the Sebring Octoberfest and Pikes Peak WSC wins joining his 1997 Lime Rock WSC victory and his 1995 Sebring 12 Hours LeMans class win. His 17 starts have produced eight Top Three "Podium" finishes, eleven Top Five finishes, and 13 Top Ten finishes. 1997's ten WSC races have averaged 3.1 lead-lap finishers per race; this average per race is the best since the 1991 average for GTP of 3.14! Entering the 1997 SportsCar Exxon series finale at Laguna Seca, only one driver title (GTS-1, Andy Pilgrim) has been decided. The WSC, GTS-2, and GTS-3 title battles remain to be decided at Laguna Seca. Conversely, the 1997 Exxon Manufacturer battle has only one title open: the WSC battle between Ford and Ferrari, with Ford leading Ferrari by two points entering the finale. Porsche has clinched the GTS-1 and GTS-2 titles while BMW has clinched the GTS-3 title. With the Laguna Seca 1997 finale remaining, the top position in the 1997 SportsCar Exxon World SportsCar point standings is held by Butch Leitzinger! The lead switched from Elliott Forbes-Robinson to Butch Leitzinger after Leitzinger won at Las Vegas, and continued to be held by Leitzinger after Pikes Peak and the Sebring Octoberfest. Leitzinger and Forbes-Robinson are Dyson Ford R & S Mk III drivers and are separated by six points, with Butch at 205 and Elliott at 199. They are followed by Dyson teammate James Weaver at 189. Weaver is followed by Rob Morgan at 179 points, ten behind Weaver and 26 adrift of leader Leitzinger. After Butch and James scored only one point apiece for their part in the 1997 Daytona Rolex 24 Hours victory, they faced a long climb to the top of the 1997 WSC point chart from a 32-point deficit behind EFR! Dyson drivers rank 1-2-3 in 1997 Exxon WSC points entering the Laguna Seca finale with only fourth-ranking Ferrari pilot Rob Morgan a threat to break up the Dyson 1-2-3! If Dyson drivers finish 1-2-3 in the WSC championship, it will mark the first such 1-2-3 sweep by drivers from the same team in the sanctioning body's premier championship in the history of the series (1971-97)! The only previous 1-2-3 by drivers from the same team in any Exxon series? In 1992, Leitzinger Nissan drivers David Loring, Butch Leitzinger, and Bob Leitzinger finished 1-2-3 in GTU (now GTS-3)! On the strength of their two-race win streak, MOMO Ferrari drivers Antonio Hermann and Andrea Montermini are fifth and sixth with 155 and 154 points, respectively. Jim Pace has dropped from third earlier in the season to seventh in his Oldsmobile Aurora R & S Mk III campaign, now with 148 points but a threat to the MOMO duo. After his season-best effort at Pikes Peak was followed by an early retirement at Sebring, Wayne Taylor is eighth in points at 145 with teammate Eric Van de Poele ninth at 143. Jim Downing is tenth at 133 points. The premier Exxon series title has been led "wire to wire" (point leadership or a share of the point leadership after each race) only five times and with Fermin Velez, Elliott Forbes-Robinson and Leitzinger already swapping the point lead in 1997 the figure will remain five through 1997! Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood achieved the feat in 1971, followed by Peter Gregg in 1975, John Paul, Jr. in 1982, Chip Robinson in 1987, and Wayne Taylor in 1996. Ford leads the WSC point battle, now by only two points over Ferrari, 239 to 237; Oldsmobile is third at 190. Ford has never won an IMSA Exxon series "top class" or prototype class (GTX, GTP, Lights) Manufacturers title in the 1971-1996 history of the series. Ford did take the 1981 All-American GT (AAGT) class title; AAGT was a subclass of the old GTX class. Ford's only outright class Manufacturers titles in the series came in GTO (now GTS-1) in 1985 and 1986. FOMOCO's Mercury division took the GTS-1 (GTO/GTS) Manufacturers titles in 1988, 1989, and 1990. The "top class" of the series (WSC since 1994) has seen an American manufacturer, Oldsmobile, take the title in 1994 and 1996. Prior to the introduction of the WSC class, the only "top class" prototype title achieved by an American manufacturer was 1984's Engine title by Chevrolet. The old Lights prototype class Manufacturers title was won by General Motors' Buick division in 1989 and 1990 and by GM's Pontiac division in 1987 and 1988. The Manufacturers title in the AAGT subclass of GTX (1978-81) and GT (1975-77) was taken by Chevrolet from 1975 through 1980. 1997 SportsCar Exxon Supreme GTS-1 champion Andy Pilgrim clinched the title after his win at Las Vegas and now has a 76-point margin over the runnerup drivers, Roger Schramm and Stu Hayner, after his fourth consecutive, and fifth total, 1997 GTS-1 victory in the Sebring Octoberfest event! Hayner and Schramm skipped the Sebring event and trail Pilgrim's 231 points at 155 apiece. Ford Panoz driver Doc Bundy, also absent from Sebring, is fourth at 151 points while Pilgrim's team owner Jochen Rohr is fifth at 131 points although he has not competed in the last four events, stepping aside first for Dorsey Schroeder and then for Allan McNish. Ford Mustang driver Scott Maxwell is sixth at 128 points and is a threat to finish as high as fourth; his teammate Jason Priestley is eighth at 116 points and could move up to fifth. Allan McNish, winner with Pilgrim of the last three GTS-1 races, is ninth with 75 points but as he is 41 points out of eighth will finish no better than his current ninth-place ranking. Prior to 1997, the GTS-1 class had seen its champion lead "wire to wire" (point leadership or a share of the point leadership after each race) only four times! Dave Heinz achieved the feat in 1971, Peter Gregg in 1975, John Jones in 1985, and Scott Pruett in 1988. Pilgrim joined this list by maintaining his 1997 point leadership throughout the season! Porsche took the GTS-1 Manufacturers title point title as well! Porsche, now with 231 points, has a 37-point edge over Ford Panoz. Oldsmobile at 136 points and Ford at 128 points can swap third place dependent upon the Laguna Seca results. Porsche last won the GTS-1 Manufacturers title in 1983; under the current 1978-1997 format, Porsche won the class Manufacturers title in GTS-1 (GTO/GTS) four times: 1978, 1979, 1980, and 1983. Porsche's total of five titles leads the 1978-1997 period. Oldsmobile (1993, 1995, 1996) and Mercury (1988, 1989, 1990) rank next with three titles. Ford took the Manufacturers titles in the series in 1985 and 1986. Panoz made its debut in GTS-1 competition in 1997! Porsche drivers rank first through fourteenth in 1997 GTS-2 points after the Sebring Octoberfest race; two Ford drivers are tied for fifteenth ranking. Larry Schumacher continues to lead the GTS-2 title chase, now at 227 points versus 218 for archrival Franz Konrad, a nine-point lead up from the five points Schumacher led by before he won with Konrad second in the Sebring Octoberfest race! Martin Snow is third, at 192 points, and faces no prospect of moving up or down in the rankings based upon the Laguna Seca result. John O'Steen, Schumacher's codriver through Mosport Park before standing down for Price Cobb thereafter, is fourth at 156 points while Will Pace is fifth at 125 points. Pace is under threat from Nick Ham in sixth at 115 points. Franz Konrad, the point leader after Road Atlanta, has seen his effort hampered by not competing at Lime Rock but aided by a win in the Sebring 12 Hours and victories in three consecutive events, Watkins Glen, Sears Point, and Mosport Park, plus a win at Pikes Peak! With its sweep of the first ten 1997 GTS-2 events, Porsche easily won the GTS-2 title! Entering the final event, Porsche has 263 points to 75 for the Ford Saleen Mustang. In Exxon series history, Porsche has won Manufacturers titles in the GTP, GTX, pre-1978 GTO (GT), GTS-1 (GTO), GTS-3 (GTU and GTS-2), and North American Endurance GT1 and GT2 classes and has now added GTS-2 to that honor roll! After BMW drivers dominated the standings after the 1997 Daytona and Sebring GTS-3 rounds, three Porsche drivers vaulted to the top of the 1997 GTS-3 standings as a result of the Road Atlanta event and two Porsche pilots were the point leaders after the Lime Rock and Watkins Glen races! BMW reassumed the lead with Sears Point winner Bill Auberlen but Porsche pilot David Murry led by three points over Auberlen and Auberlen's PTG teammate Javier Quiros after Mosport Park! Murry then won at Las Vegas and extended his lead over Auberlen and Quiros to seven points! Auberlen won at Pikes Peak and retook the point lead by ffour points over Murry and six over Quiros! Auberlen won again in the Sebring Octoberfest event and now leads teammate Quiros by 12 points, 213 to 201, with Murry third at 198 points, fifteen adrift of Auberlen and three behind Quiros but still within reach of both! The 1997 GTS-3 title battle has been a "see saw" affair all year! Auberlen (with teammates Tom Hessert and Javier Quiros) led after the Daytona and Sebring events; Jim Matthews and David Murry, along with Cort Wagner, led after Road Atlanta and Matthews and Murry continued to share the lead after races four and five (Lime Rock and Watkins Glen). Auberlen seized the lead after race six (Sears Point) only for Murry to retake the lead after races seven (Mosport Park) and eight (Las Vegas). Auberlen retook the lead after race nine (Pikes Peak) and extended it after race ten (Sebring Octoberfest)! All told, Auberlen and Murry have each led the points after five 1997 events and have swapped the leadership four times! The GTS-3 (GTU/GTS-2) class has seen its champion lead "wire to wire" (point leadership or a share of the point leadership after each race) only three times and 1997 won't add to that total! Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood achieved the feat in 1971, Dave White matched the milestone in 1978, and Jack Baldwin was the last to accomplish the feat in 1984! The BMW marque took its second consecutive title in the GTS-3 class in 1997; the class was formerly known as GTU and GTS-2. BMW enters the final round with 249 points to Porsche's 209. Our website at http://members.aol.com/autoracg/ provides a wealth of useful and interesting auto racing information!

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