Laguna Seca Dorricott Race Report Dorricott Racing

MONTEREY, Calif. (Sept. 12, 1999) - - The 1999 PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship will not know its champion until the final Lights race of the year following more stellar performances from Dorricott Racing's Oriol Servia and Casey...

MONTEREY, Calif. (Sept. 12, 1999) - - The 1999 PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship will not know its champion until the final Lights race of the year following more stellar performances from Dorricott Racing's Oriol Servia and Casey Mears at Laguna Seca Raceway and the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey, Sunday, Sept. 12. Series leader Servia started 11th and finished seventh to push his season points total to 130. Mears, however, closed the gap with a fifth place finish to keep his title hopes alive with 116 points. Heading to the 12th and final Indy Lights race of the season at California Speedway, Sunday, Oct. 31, Servia can win the championship with a seventh place finish or better. Dorricott Racing's Philipp Peter was eliminated from the championship chase after finishing eighth place at Laguna Seca Raceway and now trails Servia by 32 points, 130-98. Peter, however, is still within reach of second place should he make up the 18-point advantage that Mears holds over him. A maximum of 22 points could be earned by a single driver in the final race including 20 points for a victory, one bonus point for winning the pole, and one bonus point for leading the most laps. The dynamics of Laguna Seca's race were two-fold. First, there was Didier Andre taking the lead from pole-sitter Guy Smith on lap two of the 34-lap Indy Lights sprint and leading the rest of the way for his second consecutive victory at Laguna Seca. Andre held off a race-long challenge from rookie Scott Dixon to win by 0.571-seconds at an average speed of 91.713 mph. Second, there was a "race-within-a-race" among the Dorricott drivers. Going into Laguna Seca, the only drivers remaining who could mathematically win the Indy Lights crown were Servia, Mears, and Peter. Servia made his first move on the opening lap when he passed Geoff Boss for 10th place in turn two of the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course. Peter, who started eighth, passed Mears while exiting turn two and both passed Chris Menninga to improve to sixth and seventh place, respectively. "On the race start, the inside lane slowed and nearly stopped," said Mears. "Philipp had the outside lane. I was stuck behind a bunch of cars while he flew around me. Felipe Giaffone beat me on the outside for a short while but I was able to get the spot back. It actually felt a little uncomfortable being on the inside. I'm used to getting to the outside." Servia then passed Andy Boss on lap three for ninth place after Boss spun and struck the tire barrier at the exit of turn four. A yellow flag was issued. Boss was uninjured but forced to retire from the race. The race restarted on lap seven but was abruptly interrupted when Mario Dominguez made contact with Guy Smith in turn two. Dominguez spun and continued but spun again in turn eight and stopped off-course. Another yellow flag was issued, but not before Peter moved to fifth place, Mears to sixth, and Servia to eighth. Racing resumed without incident on lap 11 with Servia continuing his charge to the front by passing Menninga for seventh place on lap 12. Dorricott Racing controlled fifth, sixth, and seventh place for the next 14 laps before Peter placed two wheels off track in turn six to lose three positions and drop to eighth. "I lost a lot of positions going up the hill on lap 26," said Peter. "The gear jumped out because I didn't put it in well enough. I tried to accelerate but the engine couldn't respond. I lost complete control of the car for a moment. It took everything I knew to save the car from veering too far left or right. Casey, Oriol, and Menninga all passed me." Trouble for Peter re-surfaced on lap 33 when Geoff Boss attempted to pass Peter on the inside of turn two. Contact ensued with Boss veering into the tire barriers between turns two and three to draw a local yellow. Boss's car suffered substantial right front suspension damage. Peter, meanwhile, maintained remarkable control of his Red Bull/ Remus/Estebe/Chicco d' Oro Lola and continued for eighth place. "Geoff Boss and I mixed it up a bit," said Peter. "I saw him coming in my mirrors but I braked late. He braked late. I didn't see his tires when I turned in. He may have locked it up a little but I'll have to see the television replay to be sure. At that point, there wasn't any room left so we made contact. He took away the aerodynamics of my car so I had to focus on just finishing the race. "If I just would have stayed in fifth, I would have finished fifth. After dropping to eighth, one pretty much has to figure he's going to finish eighth at Laguna Seca. The car was well set for the most part. I struggled with a little push but who doesn't? It was good enough run in the top-five but not enough to win a race." Besides seeking to finish the Indy Lights season in first, second and third place, Dorricott Racing has two drivers who will vie for the coveted "winner-take-all" $10,000 Bosch Platinum+4 Speedway Challenge at California Speedway. After five of six rounds, Mears holds a 13 point lead over Servia, 70-57. Scott Dixon is third with 48 points and remains the only other driver in mathematical contention. "We'll finally sort this season out at Fontana," said Servia. "That wasn't my desire. I wanted to win the championship at Laguna Seca but circumstances make it clear that Casey and I will be running for the Indy Lights championship at the last race of the year in Fontana. "My first objective at the beginning of the year was to win the Indy Lights championship. I think I only have to finish seventh to achieve that objective, but I'm also looking to win that race."

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Series INDYLIGHTS