WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (May 18, 2001) --Under mixed weather conditions Memo Rojas, of Mexico City, Mexico and Mike Andersen, of Green Pond, N.J., both captured poles in the two qualifying sessions for Saturday's and Sunday's Rounds Four and...
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (May 18, 2001) --Under mixed weather conditions Memo Rojas, of Mexico City, Mexico and Mike Andersen, of Green Pond, N.J., both captured poles in the two qualifying sessions for Saturday's and Sunday's Rounds Four and Five of the U.S. F2000 National Championship Presented by Speedvision at Watkins Glen International. Completing the top-three for Round Four's race is Andersen and Tom Dyer, of San Rafael, Calif., while Alexander Figge, of Aspen, Colo. and Doug Bell, of St. Albans, England complete the top-three for Round Five's race.
Under overcast skies and increasing threat of rain, qualifying for Saturday 's 16-lap race began in the early afternoon. Driving the No. 9 Valvoline/Pi Research Van Diemen Ford, Andersen posted the quickest time early in the session. As the session progressed and the track got more grip times began to drop. Andersen continued to better his time to stay at the top of the order. During this period Dyer, driving the No. 33 Cycle Shack/Paladin Associates Van Diemen Ford, moved into second on the grid with a strong run. With ten minutes remaining in the session and thunderstorm fast approaching, Rojas posted a quick lap of 1:52.669 (108.636 mph) setting a new qualifying lap record. Within two laps the entire track was being hit by heavy rain. The rain effectively ended anyone's chance of bettering the time, giving Rojas, driving the No. 15 Telmex Van Diemen Ford, his first career pole.
"I am very happy to get my first pole in U.S. F2000," said Rojas, who currently leads the point standings. "This is not half of what are goals are for the weekend. A win would be a great way to extend the points lead."
"I'm happy with where we're at," said Dyer. "With the amount of limited testing we've done, I think we're just starting to get comfortable and we'll continue to get better as the season progresses."
Qualifying for race two, Sunday's 16-lap race, took place later in the day under overcast skies and a wet track from the previous storm. Early in the session numerous drivers spun and continued on the course. The top-five repeatedly shuffled as the track began to get more grip and slowly got dry. On the last lap of the session Andersen posted a quick lap of 2:09.624 (94.426 mph) to capture first career pole in 31 races. Having spun earlier in the session and gone of course, Figge in the No. 18 Lightspeed Motorsports Van Diemen, recovered and grabbed the second spot on the grid on the last lap of the session. Having led in the early stages of the session, Bell, driving the No. 3 Cape Motorsports, looked to be in contention for the pole. Bell ended up third, after he was unable to post a faster time on his last lap, as the other had done. On the cool down lap Bell's car came to a stop on the course with a malfunction.
"I've done a lot of these races and this is my first pole so it feels good to get it done," said Andersen, who is third all-time with 25 top-10 finishes in U.S. F2000. "We just managed to make the right call on set-up. In the race I would prefer it to be dry."
"I knew given the right opportunity I could make those guys [crew] proud of me by running in the rain and putting down a good lap," said Figge. "I was lucky my crew was able to get everything running again properly after I went off."
"We realized it was drying out and trying to find open track was the hardest part," said Bell who won the Round 1 at Homestead. "I think those two guys [Figge and Andersen] did a really good job. I need points, but you have not think about that and run as hard as you can during the race."
Completing the top-five for Round Four is Jason LaPoint, of Woodburn, Ore. and Tonis Kasemets, of Chicago, Ill. Mike Potekhen, of Phoenix, Ariz. and Arnold Brinkmann, of Quito, Ecuador complete the top-five for Round Five's race.