SBRS: Okamoto leads first day qualifying

First round qualifying times don't generally mean much. Seldom do they hold up to the second helping of time trials. Nevertheless, Akihira Okamoto and Toshinobu Shigemitsu surprised the Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER crowd,...

First round qualifying times don't generally mean much. Seldom do they hold up to the second helping of time trials. Nevertheless, Akihira Okamoto and Toshinobu Shigemitsu surprised the Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER crowd, taking provisional first and second spots on the grid for tomorrow's finale. The two Formula Dodge Eastern Regional Championship racers were participating in this weekend's action, looking to broaden their experience against an elite field of racers.

Okamoto and Shigemitsu are no strangers to Lime Rock Park, having raced the 1.53 mile circuit four weekends this season with the Eastern Series. This is the National Championship Series first visit to Connecticut for 2000. Okamoto, runner up to the Eastern Series championship, tripped a time of 0:56.219 sec early, two minutes into the 20 minute session. Shigemitsu was only 0.135 sec. behind the provisional pole sitter. Consistent with Formula Dodge competition, the racing was tight, with the first 10 spots separated by only 0.775 sec.

Shigemitsu felt that for today, they had an advantage.

"We may have caught them [the field] by surprise a bit. But these are the National racers and they're capable of much better results tomorrow." said Shigemitsu.

Okamoto adds, "We were fortunate, having been here before. I found the transition to the sequential gearbox also to be an advantage, shifts were faster and it's hard to make a mistake."

Landon Yee secured the third provisional pole spot. Yee got an early glimpse of Lime Rock Park about a month ago when he participated in a Skip Barber Racing School lapping day with fellow racer Jon Morley. Jonathan Strohm scored fourth in provisional qualifying. Morley ended the session with the fifth best time.

Championship contenders Anthony Simone and Bryan Sellers had uncharacteristically quiet sessions, considering what's at stake. The two ran times good for the ninth and tenth position, respectively.

Final qualifying for the Formula Dodge National Championship begins Saturday, October 14 at 9:00 a.m. The National Championship finale will take place on Saturday at 11:15 am. Look for results immediately following each event on the Skip Barber News.

<pre> Provisional Qualifying results for Round 13

1. Akihira Okamoto              0:56.219
2. Toshinobu Shigemitsu         0:56.354
3. Landon Yee                   0:56.581
4. Jonathan Strohm              0:56.610
5. Jon Morley                   0:56.632
6. Leonardo Maia                0:56.779
7. Chip Bryant                  0:56.861
8. Craig Duerson                0:56.866
9. Anthony Simone               0:56.912
10. Bryan Sellers               0:56.994
11. Tophie Stewart              0:57.074
12. Damian Della Santina        0:57.107
13. Kevin Christensen           0:57.165
14. Brian Rivera                0:57.214
15. Christian Szymczak          0:57.223
16. Scott Presti                0:57.401
17. Davy Cook                   0:57.441
18. Chris Baker                 0:57.472
19. Michael Rossi               0:57.572        
20. Dan Di Leo                  0:57.580
21. Todd Russo                  0:57.995

- Andrew Torres

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers Christian Szymczak , Davy Cook , Leonardo Maia , Chris Baker , Skip Barber , Craig Duerson , Bryan Sellers , Chip Bryan , Akihira Okamoto , Anthony Simone , Michael Rossi , Jon Morley