By Mark Gledhill - Motorsport.com Anglo-American Stock Car Racing got underway at Rockingham Motor Speedway with the opening round of the 2001 ASCAR Mintex Cup on Saturday 26th May. Fourteen drivers took part in the race, providing a...
By Mark Gledhill - Motorsport.com
Anglo-American Stock Car Racing got underway at Rockingham Motor Speedway with the opening round of the 2001 ASCAR Mintex Cup on Saturday 26th May. Fourteen drivers took part in the race, providing a good example of what is to come over the rest of the season.
Problems discovered during pre-season testing had a major effect on the format of the meeting. These problems only came to light at this late stage because there had only been a limited amount of testing and there was not enough time to fix them. The organisers felt however that there should be some track action for the fans. "The race today is going to be a demonstration of the potential that ASCAR has", said ASCAR Managing Director Mike Schmidt. "It will be a Demonstration Race. The drivers are all going to be driving very mindful of the engine problems within the package as it exists today."
Schmidt then explained the engine problems. "What we are actually experiencing is a small amount of oil surge. Because these corners are so fast, the car pulls so much G-force in the corners, the oil is staying up the top of the engine for the entire length of the turn. This is producing a small oil pressure problem which has culminated in some engine failures.
The demonstration format turned out to be two ten-lap sprints separated by a safety car period during which all cars were expected to make a pitstop. Former British Touring Car Champion John Cleland lined up on pole position, with Colin White and Mark Procter behind him.
Cleland kept the lead at the start and pulled out a slight lead as Proctor moved ahead of White into second position. Procter then tried several times to pull alongside Cleland, and finally when he had just managed to edge ahead some thick white smoke started pouring from the back of his car, and he toured round to the pits and retirement. The cars were bunched up by the safety car and White managed to take the lead during the pitstops. Backmarkers and leaders were now all bunched together, and the pack became even tighter during the closing stages of the race. Cleland closed slowly and carefully, and made his move at the final corner of the final lap to take a close but deserved victory.
The next round will be held at Knockhill circuit in Scotland on June 17.