SERVIA ASSUMES INDY LIGHTS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD FOLLOWING SECOND PLACE AT CLEVELAND
CLEVELAND, Ohio (June 27, 1999) - Oriol Servia, of Pals, Catalonia, Spain, parlayed an outside pole position into a second place finish and jumped into the lead of the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship following round six of the 12-race series at Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport in the Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland, Sunday, June 27. Servia's runner-up showing, which was his fifth career Indy Lights second place finish in 20 career Indy Lights races, earned 16 points to assume the series lead with 69 points. Race winner Derek Higgins, of Ireland, took the checkered flag 4.366-seconds ahead of Servia in the 36-lap Indy Lights sprint. Servia scored second place honors at Nazareth and Portland in rounds three and five this season in the Catalonia/RACC/Elf Lola. He was also runner-up at Trois- Rivieres and Laguna Seca last year. "First of all I have to congratulate my engineer, Alain Clarinval, because he made all the right decisions," said Servia. "Most drivers ran with high downforce in last year's race. When we arrived in Cleveland, Alain said he thought low downforce might be fastest. We decided to run low downforce and ended up improving with every session. I think my car was the fastest in qualifying and might have won the pole, but the mistake I made coming out of a corner on my clearest lap cost me the five-hundredth of a second I needed" Servia took the lead from polesitter Didier Andre on the opening lap when Andre's car was knocked from contention by Jonny Kane in the first corner. Kane took an inside line at break- neck speed after starting fifth and failed to slow or negotiate the first turn. He speared Andre's car as Andre was making his turn. "I saw Didier braking really late and I wasn't sure if he was going to make the corner," said Servia. "Then something green flashed in my right mirror. I caught a glimpse of Jonny (Kane) flying into the corner way too fast. I braked long enough to watch him shoot past and hit Didier. I then made it around the corner without any problems." Meanwhile, teammates Casey Mears and Philipp Peter were able to take advantage of the first turn mishap and each improve two positions. Mears, who came into the race leading in the championship, moved from his starting position of seventh to fifth place. Peter improved to seventh. Peter then proceeded to pass Airton Dare on lap five to take over sixth place. Servia's error occurred on lap six when he entered turn five of the 11-turn circuit too fast leading to a brief off-course. Higgins kept to the center of the track for the lead. "I ran too wide and slid through turn five," reflected Servia. "That permitted Derek to run beneath and past me. I knew at that point that I had to avoid any more mistakes and hope Derek would make one. "I had a lot of chances to win the race. My car was one of the fastest in qualifying but I made that one mistake that cost me the pole. If the weather had stayed the same, I am sure I would have had the fastest car for the race. Then it cooled down near the end of the race and I could feel the moisture beginning to affect the corners. The car began loosing grip." The next 21 laps were incident free with Servia, Mears and Peter holding second, fifth, and sixth place, respectively. A brief yellow flag was called on lap 28 when Cory Witherill ran off- course in turn four, but the race resumed on lap 31 after track workers cleared the circuit. An error on the re-start by Scott Dixon permitted Mears and Peter to pass him for fourth and fifth place, respectively. Peter then made his most aggressive move of the race on lap 34 when he powered past Mears on the front straight-away to take over fourth place. Mears nearly secured his sixth consecutive top-five finish when an engine misfire stuttered his Sooner Trailer/American Racing Custom Wheels Lola with only a couple of corners remaining on the final lap. Mears was able to round the final corner and cross the finish line, but not before giving up a three positions to lower-powered cars. "The motor started to cut out and quit on the last lap," said Mears. "It developed a misfire and started to die. Cars were able to slip underneath me on the straight-aways so I started dropping back." Mears scored five points for his eighth place finish and stands in second place with 67 points. Peter remains in fourth place overall with 60 points after earning 12 points for his fourth place finish. The next stop for Dorricott Racing will be round seven at the Molson Indy Toronto on the 1.721-mile temporary street circuit at Exhibition Place, on Sunday, July 18. ESPN2 will provide an encore telecast of the Cleveland Indy Lights race, Wednesday, June 30, from 12:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. ET (9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. PT on June 29).
Race results, team and sponsor information may be viewed on Dorricott Racing's web site, http://www.dorricottracing.com.