1997 first round report

DEREK HIGGINS RETURNS TO HIS 1995 TREND The first round out of ten of the 1997 "Montana Grand Prix" Series, featuring the International F-3, the support F-Reynard 2000 and the Open class and 750 c.c. Bikes, finally took place on May 10 ...

DEREK HIGGINS RETURNS TO HIS 1995 TREND

The first round out of ten of the 1997 "Montana Grand Prix" Series, featuring the International F-3, the support F-Reynard 2000 and the Open class and 750 c.c. Bikes, finally took place on May 10 (mother's day) and 11, after the first scheduled race in Monterrey last month had to be cancelled. This time the problems were beurocratric ones originated by the sanctioning bodies actuating in auto racing in Mexico (heard anything similar elsewhere lately?). Fortunatelly everything came into order just in time. Because of this, the event, far from being cancelled, recieved additional covering by the media of the supposedly world's biggest city (around 20 million in the metro area) . QUALIFYING On Saturday, 19 International (F.I.A.) F-3 cars showed up and ran their practice and qualifying sessions around the 4 Km. circuit of the Rodriguez Brothers Racetrack without accidents but with delay because the track "should be used by everyday joggers, runners, cyclists, and aerobics practisers until 10 AM", so states the official permission. Since the first time out, the Mexlub Team driver, Waldemar Coronas from Lezama, Argentina, seemed to be the man to beat which he confirmed putting the best lap time of 1' 16.221" better than Derek Higgins' 1' 16.243" in the first qualifying. For the second and final session, the weather changed from sunny to cloudy, cool, windy and very humid, but Derek went out as soon as they opened the pit lane and with a new set of tires, he stopped the watches at 1' 16.147" in the sixth of a maximum of 12 laps. Moments later it started to rain so half of the field including Waldi, had to settle with their first qualifying time. Even when Gilberto Jimenez bettered his time, down to 1' 16.830", he wasn't able to push Waldi out of the second spot. Fourth was Eduardo Galicia who now races for Alberto Lozano which immediately paid him, since Alberto's experience setting up the car, no doubt helped to raise him from 14th to 4th place, while his kid brother Rodrigo (18), driving his former car, was the slowest of the day. Luis Miguel Diaz, another rookie coming from the Reynard Formula and climbing directly to vacant Rod MacLeod's seat in the Quaker State Team as Derek's teammate, qualifyed in fifth place only a tenth of a second ahead of Costarican Javier Collado who now substitutes Brazilian Oswaldo Negri in the Montana Racing Team and also ahead of a whole lot of experienced drivers, the likes of Cesar Jimenez of Mexlub (7th), Carlos Peralta of Sentra (8th), Alejandro Villasana of Canel's (9th), Gerson Molina reappearing with Sentra in the place of Canadian Allen Berg (10th), Homero Richards of Corona Team (11th) now with a Perea car, Luis F. Perea of Tempo (J.Comas Team, 12th) and Horacio Richards now as his brother's teammate in a second Corona/Perea car (13th) . Only in 14th spot another rookie appears, also a Reynard 200 Formula graduate, Oscar Rico with a GALI/Pa'la Sed car, followed by Guillermo Oliveras with his own car, Eduardo Troconis (Bosch), Franco Sfara (El Tigre Balsam), Brazilian Luiz Flores (Perea) and young Galicia (Pennzoil). WARM-UP Sunday morning the smog seemed to be lighter than usual, it was sunny and warm (26 C or 77 F), so fans started to arrive and fill the main stand and the sun roof bleachers above the pits where you can't see much of the race but for the easy access to paddok and pits, it's the better place to be if you don't belong to the sponsor's suites. Derek Higgins was the fastest in the wam-up laps, followed by Gilberto Jimenez, Waldemar Coronas, Luis M. Diaz, Eduardo Galicia and Javier Collado. THE RACE When the green light went on, at one o'clock sharp, it was Eduardo Galicia who started out as catapulted and led the pack if only one time around. Derek overtook him and led the rest of the 30 laps until the checkered flag gave him the first win of the year (in this F.I.A. International F-3) and the corresponding 20 championship points which he dedicated to his wife Erika and Mara Emily, his one month old daughter, born in Mexico City. Waldemar Coronas and Gilberto Jimenez also managed to pass Eduardo and for some laps Waldi seemed to be able to get Derek, but after lap 18, his Alfa Romeo engine started to loose power allowing him only to coast to a final seventh place. By then, Gilberto had been an early retirement (in lap 9 with mechanical failure). It was Eduardo Galicia who kept a constant pace and finished second, 11 seconds behind the winner, the best he has managed since two years, this way giving back a big reward for Pennzoil sponsor, car owner Alberto Lozano and his father who is always with him and was his technical manager until last year. Javier Collado, from Costa Rica who in 1994 started the season with a win in this same track, now, with more than a year out of a single seater, followed the leaders and after falling behind Diaz and dicing the whole race with Cesar Jimenez, finally left Diaz behind and passed Cesar for the Nth time three laps before the end, winning the right to climb to the winner's circle with a wider smile than Filiberto's, who as team owner, confirmed he made a good decision in calling Collado when Negri announced he would go to Indy Lights. Cesar Jimenez was fourth, Homero Richards fifth, Luis F. Perea sixth and Waldi seventh, all within the same lap as Derek. Luis M. Diaz and Horacio Richards finished with 29 laps and the rest retired but there were no accidents, only spins and mechanical failures. The next one will be in Zacatecas, June 8. Hector Sanchez-Rosaldo/Interticket,Mexico. May 1997

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers Derek Higgins , Waldemar Coronas , Allen Berg , Homero Richards , Rod MacLeod