[This report delayed in transmission -- our apologies] THIRD DIFFERENT WINNER IN THE THIRD ROUND OF THE MTC by CAJAL Last Sunday, Claus Schinkel gave his mother Helga a nice Mother's Day present with a victory in the third round of the...
[This report delayed in transmission -- our apologies]
THIRD DIFFERENT WINNER IN THE THIRD ROUND OF THE MTC by CAJAL
Last Sunday, Claus Schinkel gave his mother Helga a nice Mother's Day present with a victory in the third round of the Mexican Touring Championship (aka the Neon Cup, since Chrysler is the only participating factory in the Championship), which runs with Class B regulations (2.0 liter engined cars). Qualifying took place Saturday, May 11th, and after a hard fought battle the team of Alfageme and Galland took the pole in 2 minutes and 2 seconds with seven other cars in the same second, and 40 more cars rounding the line-up for the race. Alfageme was absent due to sickness, temporary we were told, but Galland made a great effort to pu the car in the prime starting spot of the Grand Prix circuit of the Hermanos Rodriguez race track in Mexico City (4421 meters). The race was set to last 55 laps (or about 2 hours) with at least a refuelling/driver change stop, starting Sunday at noon.
Come race time the sun was out in full strength and it didn't look like the cockpit of a Neon was the place to be, much less the concrete stands of the Autodrome with barely any protection from our assigned star, but about 5000 brave souls decided to battle the elements and showed up for the start, as spectators. While former MTC star Michel Jourdain Jr. was busy qualifying tenth for the Indy 500, and Adrian Fernandez doing an even better work qualifying second for the US 500, our local drivers fought hard for that first place which was exchanged by several teams, among them: brothers Patrick and Eduardo Goeters of Team TF Victor, Ruben Garcia Novoa (first champion of the truck-trailers series) and Javier Garza of the Sapito Racing Team, and Claus Schinkel paired with Paco Gutierrez, newly sponsored in car number 10 by Danzka. Later these three cars were joined by the second Danzka car, number 39, driven by Eugenio Martin del Campo (Uje for short) and Francisco Gomez. There were several accidents which caused chained yellow flags, 2 of them before lap 20, but within 10 seconds of the leader, there were 12 cars fighting hard for position.
By lap 30 most of the cars were heading for the boxes to refuel and exchange drivers when another yellow caused by Eduardo Galicia who crashed into Jose Luis Carrete, and made the latter's car do a couple of somersaults, reminiscent of Philippe Alliot's accident back in the Mexican Grand Prix in 1988, virtually restarted the race since most teams refueled, rejoining the race all bunched-up.
Carrete walked out without injury, and without a working car too, and Galicia was disqualified for dangerous driving, although since the accident was right in front of the finish line everybody had a different point of view about the rationale behind it, if any. To add my two cents' worth, I think it was unavoidable and no bad faith was involved. In any case the fans all woke up and we braced for a 20 lap sprint with all the drivers rested, cars refueled, and everybody psyched up. The race was restarted but after a few laps, Francisco Aguilera sent Juan Mastrena spinning out of the track at the "esses" and new yellow flags appeared, and they wouldn't be the last ones. With about 10 laps Claus took the lead in a green start and never let go again, winning his first race in this championship, proving there is still life in him as a driver, now that he is set to manage a team in the Mexican F3000. He and Paco won the race in 2 hours, 20 minutes 13 seconds and 327 thousandths, followed by teammates
"Uje" and Paco Gomez just 829 thousandths behind. Third was Ruben Garcia N. and Javier Garza, fourth were the Goeters brothers, which keep their lead in the championship thanks to this result, fifth was the Tecate car of Jose Luis Gallardo and JLG Jr., followed by another family team, Akimoto drivers Miguel and Rafael Quiroga, with the seventh place going to Arceo and Retana, just 7 seconds behind the leaders. In all a satisfying race, with no histrionics from the series director and no blatant rule breaking by him (he proved he can do it, now let's see him keep up the good work), a hard fought victory for Claus and a tightening of the championship.