(Lakeville, Conn.) May 28, 2001 - Dutchman Sepp Koster held off a determined Ryan Hunter-Reay to win round 4 of the Barber Dodge Pro Series under sunny skies at Lime Rock Park. The weather contrasted sharply from Saturday's round 3 when rain doused the track and a piece of debris doused Koster's chance for victory. All that was history in Memorial Day action that saw Koster assume the point from polesitter Davy Cook in the first turn and defend his line for the duration of the 40 minute contest. Hunter-Reay, winner of rainy round 3, never got a good run at Koster, who managed to maintain an unchallengeable margin. Following Hunter-Reay home was Alexandre Sperafico, the winner of round 1 in Sebring, who comfortably cruised to a third place result.
Koster and Hunter-Reay battled all the way to the flag. Coming out of the downhill and onto the front straight, Koster exited perfectly to reduce any chance of a Hunter-Reay strike. Koster's margin of victory over the Floridian was a thin 0.357 sec. Hunter-Reay ends his double at Lime Rock having scored the most points of any racer. His win in round 3 and second place today allow him to assume sole possession of the Pro Series championship with 60 points, eclipsing Nicolas Rondet by six points. Koster's points purse moves him from 11th to sixth overall.
The Dutchman's last win was in 2000 at Nazareth Raceway. But recently, his performance in the No. 3 Stora Drain Dodge Reynard has been stellar.
"This has been a weekend of ups and downs for me," said the Dutchman. "Saturday was an unlucky day for me but I'm hoping I have my championship bid on track now. It wasn't easy. I saw smoke out of the back of my car and I knew Ryan was right there. But I was quicker coming out to the front straight, something we set the car up for and that really worked out."
Two laps into the action, Koster and Hunter-Reay checked out from the field, building a substantial margin over the 3-4-5 train of Davy Cook, Alex Sperafico and Christian Szymczak. Szymczak, a rookie out of Oakland, California, was having his best race as a Pro Series driver. But the good times didn't last as an off-track excursion and flat tire caused him to lose position. Rookie Davy Cook had to start from a back-up car when his car developed an oil pressure concern just before the race start.
Hunter-Reay, the Barber-CART Rookie of the Year, leaves Connecticut having gathered a large chunk of championship points.
"It's been a really good weekend. I wanted to come in here and get my points back up. I had a good race on Saturday in the rain and a great race today. I just tried to keep the pressure on him. I was behind him the whole race but he did a good job staying in front. I'm just really pleased to come home with a lot of points, prize money and the championship lead. What more could I ask for?"
But it was to be Koster's day. The Dutchman led all 37 laps of the 1.54-mile road course. Only a hint of smoke from the back of his car threatened his eventual win. But the smoke never resulted in reduced performance and Koster was able to hold off Hunter-Reay for his second career Pro Series win.
For Sperafico, his podium finish confirms that the young Brazilian is driving more gamely and consistently than last year.
"When I arrived at this Series from Brazil, it was an opportunity to start fresh. Lately, I've found the right way to set up the car and I seem to be more patient on track.," said Sperafico who drives the No. 9 Iveco Fiat Dodge Reynard.
Rene Bauer went into the tire wall at the end of the downhill to bring out the only full-course yellow, delaying the race for about eight minutes. He was the only driver not to complete the race. Racing in the dry for the first time all weekend, times came down considerably from Saturday's action. Veteran Nicolas Rondet recorded the fastest lap of the race with a time of 0:54.629 sec en route to a fifth place result. By tripping the best time, the swift Frenchman earns the Westside Parking Fastest Lap award, good for a cash prize of $500 from Westside Parking of East Granby, Connecticut.
Brian Rivera is the winner of the Conseco Step Up award and $500 cash for his most progressive drive. Rivera, who started from 20th, drove a spirited race, his second in Pro Series competition, to finish in 12th.
Top 15 Points After Round 4
Hunter-Reay, 60; Rondet, 54; R. Sperafico, 46; A. Sperafico, 43; Yasukawa, 41; Koster, 37; Cook, 32; Breuers, 31; Morley, 30; Boss, 30; Okamoto, 26; Plumb, 26; Senske, 20; Szymczak, 16; Brusatin, 7; Wieringa, 7