At the end of qualifying on Saturday afternoon at Laguna Seca Raceway two weeks ago, Sepp Koster was wondering how to turn a mountain into a mole-hill. Despite having provisionally qualified for round 10 of the Barber Dodge Pro Series in third,...
At the end of qualifying on Saturday afternoon at Laguna Seca Raceway two weeks ago, Sepp Koster was wondering how to turn a mountain into a mole-hill. Despite having provisionally qualified for round 10 of the Barber Dodge Pro Series in third, he found himself in a lowly 18th after the final session. Car contact early in the Saturday session forced him to watch from the side lines as the rest of the Barber Dodge field went faster and his times commensurately tumbled.
Come Sunday afternoon, all eyes were kept peeled for the Blue Bay Curacao Golf Resorts Dodge Reynard piloted by Koster. The eyes were not disappointed, though some may have thought they were being deceived. By the conclusion of lap one, Koster registered 12th on the timing screens. On the fifth lap he had cracked the Top-10, and by the mid-point in the race he was sixth. As the 24-lap race drew to a close Koster was in fourth with his sights set on the third-placed car of Andy Lally. Then, a toe link in the rear suspension said no more to the pounding Koster was shelving out in his relentless assault.
"Coming back from 18th to a podium-threatening fourth is always something special, although I have had similar races in other categories before. What makes this one special and probably one of my best races ever is the fact that it was under the pressure of having to take a lot of chances in a race where I could not afford to go off because of the championship situation," said Koster. "To do it at a track where in three races that day there was virtually no passing, Laguna is definitely one of the hardest places to pass, gives me even more satisfaction. I think I certainly surprised a few people and showed them how bad I wanted to win this series.
"I was convinced I could get into the Top-10 fairly easily, but I never thought I could make up as many places as I did, because of the nature of the track. Having said that, it is always a risk coming from the back and I had to avoid taking crazy chances or getting erratic in my driving. From lap one though I noticed that my guys gave me a great car and I was able to push from the first moment," continued the Dutchman. "Honestly, I have to admit that even I was surprised to be running eighth after six laps. I also have to mention that all the drivers I fought with were hard but fair, this gave me the chance to pull off the passes, if they hadn't been "heads up" my race would have most certainly ended much earlier."
After the race Lally commented on how surprised he had been to see Koster in his mirrors. He added that he was forced to refocus and double his efforts to keep Koster behind. Yet the great drive was never to see fruition. With but a few laps left in the balance, the toe link gave way and sent Koster spinning into the turn-six gravel traps.
"I was just totally destroyed when I realized my championship was over, and it hit me right as I slid into the gravel. I just could not believe it, I mean it was a dream race with a nightmare ending," Koster revealed.
With two races remaining, the former Benelux Formula Ford champion looks to maximize his points and at least solidify his third place in the overall standings. Afterwards he'll look to test with a few different lights teams in the hopes of getting a ride in 2001 and bolstering the ranks of the Barber Dodge alumni in that series. And, in spite of what the record will show, he'll know that at Laguna Seca, he had a great drive that was left unrewarded.
- George Tamayo