Skip Barber trained Bryan Sellers and A.J. Allmendinger made a sensational start to their international racing careers by finishing second and third in today's New Zealand Grand Prix at Teretonga Park.
"It was a very exciting day," said Sellers, the runner-up to the 2000 Formula Dodge National Championship, after taking the checkered flag just over three seconds adrift of the New Zealand Formula Ford Championship leader. "There was a good crowd, a great atmosphere and the race went really well for me. I'm a bit sticky from spraying all the champagne, but that's alright. It was a good start to our campaign over here."
This was the first time in the history of the New Zealand Grand Prix, which dates back to 1950, that the event had been held for Formula Ford cars. It turned out to be a roaring success. A huge field of 37 entries ensured some spectacular action, and while Coulthard and Sellers managed to edge clear of the main pack, Allmendinger delighted the crowd with a thrilling charge before clinching the final podium position.
"My race was a little more eventful [than Sellers']," said the 2001 Barber-CART Karting Scholarship winner from Hollister, Calif. "I lost a few places at the start and I had to make some passes. It was pretty intense out there."
Allmendinger, more recently runner-up to the 2001 FDNC, completed the first lap in sixth place, after starting fifth, but soon worked his way up to fourth before embarking on a thrilling tussle with a local driver. The pair exchanged places several times before Allmendinger made a gutsy pass around the outside line into Turn One. After making slight contact, Allmendinger emerged in third, while Ross spun out.
The event was fought over a total of 36 laps, with a brief interruption while the cars were refueled at half-distance. When the race was restarted behind a pace car, two lapped cars were between Sellers and Allmendinger, which effectively thwarted Allmendinger's hopes of mounting a challenge on his teammate.