ILP First Race, the "Indy Lights" of Latin America

Oswaldo Negri returns to Mexico with a win Monterrey, N.L. Mexico

After competing in Mexican F3 until 1996, Brazilian driver Oswaldo Negri went to the US to compete in the Firestone Indy Lights Series but with a low budget. Now he is back in Mexico and with a lot to smile about.

Negri is a former champion of the South American F3 and is know by his countryman as one of the best Brazilian out there, as CART driver Helio Castro Neves put it last December at the ILP presentation in Mexico City.

The ILP is a new series that bought the Lolas T93-96/20 from Indy Lights teams and is leasing them to teams with a 460 hp V8 engine and a car that is 6 inches longer than when it had the Buick engine.

Negri won the inaugural race of the ILP in Monterrey starting from second place. He passed pole sitter Javier Collado from Costa Rica on lap one at the end of the straight and never left the lead of the race.

On Friday Negri was the fastest driver and on Saturday he established the best time on the first qualifying session breaking the track record established by the F3, but for the second qualifying it was Collado who after several set up changes made by his engineer Joe Franklin (Team Medlin chief engineer in Indy Lights) established the best lap of 1:06.662, breaking again the track record.

Negri was able to improve his for the second qualifying to 1:06.760 but that was not enough to beat Collado's best lap.

Argentinian driver Waldemar Coronas was able to post the third best lap with a 1:07.117 with a few minutes left on to qualify because his car had to be rebuild as it was severely damaged in a fire on the first Friday practice because of a faulty oil line.

Second place in the race went to Mexican Rafael Martinez who finished 01.198 seconds behind Negri. Martinez qualified on eighth position with a time of 1:09.455. He started moving up quickly after the green flag; at the end of the first lap he was in fifth position, on lap sixth he was third and on lap 13 he was in second place after Javier Collado retired on lap 12 due to electrical problems.

Third was for Eduardo Galicia from Mexico 16.085 behind Negri, who started on 17th place because he could not qualify on Saturday.

American Alex Padilla who raced in Indy Lights from 1994 to 96 and participated in this years 24 Hours of Daytona was not able to set up his car because he would go out and experience a problem after another, not allowing him to lap the track.

However, he was almost ready for Sunday after not qualifying on Saturday and posted the second best time of the morning warm up behind Mexican Cesar T. Jimenez, another former Indy Lights driver from '93 and '94.

Eighteen cars entered the race but Alex Villasana's car caught fire during the warm up, so he made a deal with Galicia to use his second car which was going to be driven his younger brother Rodrigo who qualified on 12th place.

The other car not entered in the race was that of Alexandre Andrade, a Brazilian who race F3 in Italy and F3000 in Europe but who could not arrange his drive deal and announced that he will attend the remaining 9 races of the season.

The race on Sunday started at 3:00 p.m. under a heat of 90+ and lasted 42:28.174 for the 30 laps it was scheduled to last.

Negri established the race best lap time with a 1:08.032 on lap 21. He had not raced since Laguna Seca last September when he did his last Indy Lights race.

Next race will be in Guadalajara on July 19th, once the Soccer World Cup in France is over. No racing activity will be held in any Latin American Country during the month that the World Cup will last.

Coverage on Speedvision will be announced shortly

        Points Standing                                 
Driver                  Country Points           
1.Oswaldo Negri         Brazil    21            
2. Rafael Martmnez      Mexico    16
3. Eduardo Galicia      Mexico    14
4. Jimmy Morales        Mexico    12
5. Roberto Gonzalez     Mexico    10
6. Alex Padilla         USA        8
7. Cesar Jiminez        Mexico     6 
8. Andres D'Ambrosio    Argentina  5
9. Sebastian Cipres     Argentina  4
10. Horacio Richards    Mexico     3
11. Israel Jaitovich    Mexico     2
11.Javier Collado       Costa Rica 2