Laguna Seca Oriol Servia Review

ORIOL SERVIA FINISHES SECOND PLACE AT LAGUNA SECA MONTEREY, Calif. (Sept. 14, 1998) - - Oriol Servia looked good in practice, solid in qualifying, and prepared in his pre-race warm-up. All he needed was to put it all together and ...

ORIOL SERVIA FINISHES SECOND PLACE AT LAGUNA SECA

MONTEREY, Calif. (Sept. 14, 1998) - - Oriol Servia looked good in practice, solid in qualifying, and prepared in his pre-race warm-up. All he needed was to put it all together and finish on the podium. That's exactly what he did in round 13 of the 14-race PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship, Sunday, Sept. 13, at Laguna Seca Raceway as he finished an impressive second place - a fitting end to a weekend where he consistently improved with each track session. Servia, who started third in a 23-car field, was consistently lowering his lap times with each practice session. If that didn't prove advantageous, it also didn't hurt that teammate Philipp Peter started on the outside pole. This combination set the stage for a successful, tactical race start in which Peter and Servia remained second and third, respectively, and hot on the trail of race leader Didier Andre. The first 13 laps around the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course left Andre, Peter, and Servia essentially unchallenged and it appeared that Dorricott Racing might place both of its drivers on the podium. The tone of the race shifted quickly on lap 13 when Servia scooted around Peter's No. 31 Sebring/Red Bull/ESTEBE Lola but not due to a racing maneuver. Rather, a bolt which was essential to the stability of Peter's front wings broke. Peter went into a third place holding pattern for two laps, but the mounting stress on the front wings forced him to return to pit lane.

Peter pitted on lap 15 where a front right secondary wing element was replaced with a front nose assembly. The stop and quick repair were well executed, but he unfortunately dropped to near the rear of the field.

A key moment came on lap 18 when Peter resumed the race one lap down. Series officials had just issued a full course caution after Cristiano da Matta spun off course in the Corkscrew, high-centering his car and retiring him from the race with suspension damage. Peter repositioned directly behind the race leader, Andre, with Servia directly behind Peter.

On the re-start, Peter held his ground against Andre with Servia in close pursuit. Peter, however, was unable to offer the needed space for Servia to pass him, and subsequently remained directly behind Andre.

Anxieties rose on lap 28 when Casey Mears made contact with Brian Cunningham in the Corkscrew. Mears spun off course and another full course caution was issued.

A clean re-start on lap 31 of the 34-lap race again found Peter tight on Andre with Servia's No. 32 Catalonia/Elf/RACC/Heritage Bank Lola tight on Peter. The closing laps proved uneventful for Andre, Peter, and Servia with Servia crossing the finish line 2.719-seconds behind Andre. Derek Higgins finished in third place.

Servia matched his career best Indy Lights finish from Trois-Rivieres. Other top performances for Servia this season include fourth place in the season opener at Homestead Motorsports Complex (Fla.), and fifth place at Michigan Speedway.

"I'm happy and proud of my team," said the 24 year-old from Pals, Catalonia, Spain. "The team gave me a fast, well-balanced car that was able to handle all of the changes that happen during a race on this track. "Down the stretch, I thought Philipp (Peter) might let me pass, but then it appeared he was pressuring Didier (Andre) pretty well and that could have helped me if we would have had the right breaks. Besides, Philipp was definitely faster than I on the re-starts and it was important to keep pressure on the leader." Servia earned 16 points and moved into seventh place in the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship with 73 points. Peter is 10th with 61 points.

"I was pleased with the car," said Peter. "It was a little loose in the beginning but nothing I couldn't handle. Unfortunately, a bolt broke in the front wing which dropped me a couple of positions back. It wasn't going to get any better, so we decided it would be best for me to make a pit stop and replace the entire front nose assembly. I resumed the race right behind Didier Andre, and I was able to stay with him the rest of the way. He never really pulled away from me. Second place was mine for the taking. Of course, I'm happy for my teammate, Oriol, and his second place finish but it would have been even better if both of us would have been on the podium. I'm disappointed because I lost a bunch of points, but at least we showed we were competitive and today's problem was a matter of bad luck rather than an error on our team's part."

Guy Smith leads in the Indy Lights Rookie-of-the-Year points battle with 119 followed by Derek Higgins with 88 points. Servia and Peter are in third and fourth place, respectively.

Dorricott Racing is a year-round professional motorsports organization based at Sears Point International Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Race results, team and sponsor information may be viewed on Dorricott Racing's website, http://www.dorricottracing.com.

The 1998 season finale for the 14-race PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship will be at the California Speedway, Sat., October 31.

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Series INDYLIGHTS