MORE WATER EARNS ROSSONI BARBER DODGE POLE
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Sept. 25) - Thus far, Round 11 of the Barber Dodge Pro Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway has been more of an advertisement for doppler weather radar than the more typical south Florida sunshine.
A second consecutive day of tropical storm-like conditions washed out the final qualifying session Saturday at the FIA GT Championship weekend and gave Nilton Rossoni of Curitiba, Brazil his first pole of the season.
"It was a little confusing at first because I have never won a pole in the rain before, but I know the track very well," said Rossoni, who won at Homestead in 1998. "Since the first time I've been to this track, it's been comfortable. It adapts well to my driving style."
The 18-year-old Brazilian, who resides in Fort Lauderdale, was the first driver out of the pits after a stoppage in the morning qualifying session. Rossoni used his Michelin Pilot SX rain tires to full advantage, and his second lap of the day at 1:43.865 that averaged 76.599 mph was good enough to earn the pole after heavier rain moved in as the session progressed.
"I got a clean lap without anyone in front of me and was able to concentrate a little bit more because I didn't have to worry about spray," Rossoni said. "Maybe that's all I needed for good luck was little bit of rain."
Track manager Al Garcia closed the track shortly before the final Barber Dodge qualifying after a severe thunderstorm rumbled through and forced evacuation of the corner workers from the waterlogged infield circuit. With additional inclimate weather on the scope and parts of the track under several inches of standing water, the decision was announced to forego the remainder of the day's activities.
Iradj Alexander of Giubiasco, Switzerland notched his best qualifying effort of the season to earn the outside spot on the front row, as did third-place Matt Plumb of Unionville, Pa.
Todd Snyder of Sheffield, Mass., who trails championship leader Jeff Simmons by 15 points, earned the fourth grid spot. Townsend Bell of Costa Mesa, Calif. was eliminated from mathematical championship contention by Rossoni's pole but placed fifth. Michael Valiante, tied with Roger Yasukawa in the Rookie of the Year battle, earned the sixth grid position.
Alexandre Sperafico of Brazil was seventh, followed by East Granby, Conn.'s Simmons. Simmons needs to finish seven points in front of Snyder in Sunday's race to become the first driver Barber Dodge history to repeat as champion. Peter Boss of Narragansett, R.I. and Santa Monica, Calif. native Yasukawa rounded out the Top 10.
Brian Rivera of Miami Lakes, co-winner of the 1999 Skip Barber Formula Dodge Southern Championship, will make his pro debut from the 13th position.
The unsettled forecast for Sunday's 40-minute timed race left a smile on Rossoni's face.
"I would rather race in the rain than dry now," Rossoni said. "The first lap is very important. You can get away from everyone if they can't see you. I hope they're going to be in my spray."
For complete qualifying results and photos, visit the Skip Barber Racing School website: http://www.skipbarber.com/
#HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Barber Dodge Pro Series final qualifying results Saturday from the FIA GT Championship on the 2.21-mile, 14-turn Homestead-Miami Speedway for Sunday's 40-minute race. Drivers are classified by position, car number, name/hometown and time/speed.
1 (36) Nilton Rossoni/Curitiba, Brazil 1:43.865/76.599
2 (31) Iradj Alexander/Giubiasco,Switzerland 1:44.079/76.442
3 (17) Matt Plumb/Unionville, Pa. 1:44.506/76.130
4 (11) Todd Snyder/Sheffield, Mass. 1:44.681/76.002
5 (25) Townsend Bell/Costa Mesa, Calif. 1:45.547/75.379
6 (95) Michael Valiante/Vancouver,Canada 1:45.846/75.166
7 (16) Alexandre Sperafico/Brazil 1:46.876/74.441
8 (1) Jeff Simmons/East Granby, Conn. 1:47.111/74.278
9 (6) Peter Boss/Narragansett, R.I. 1:47.247/74.184
10 (8) Roger Yasukawa/Santa Monica, Calif. 1:47.283/74.159
11 (28) Andre Nicastro/Rio de Janeiro,Brazil 1:47.413/74.069
12 (7) Sepp Koster/The Netherlands 1:47.663/73.897
13 (29) Brian Rivera/Miami Lakes, Fla. 1:48.453/73.359
14 (3) Kip Gulseth/Manitowac, Wisc. 1:48.500/73.327
15 (12) R. B. Stiewing/Lime Rock, Conn. 1:48.994/72.995
16 (4) Brent Sherman/ Northbrook, Ill. 1:49.543/72.629
17 (52) Jon Fogarty/Portola Valley, Calif. 1:50.158/72.224
18 (44) Luca Pazzaglia/Bologna, Italy 1:54.064/69.750
19 (2) Jamie Menninga/Pella, Iowa 1:54.581/69.436
20 (38) David Francis Jr./Cypress, Calif. 2:02.847/64.763