Milka Duno's Miami effort short-circuited. October 6, 2002 - Miami, FL -- Milka Duno's hopes for a good showing at the Cadillac American Le Mans Challenge -- part of the Grand Prix Americas race weekend on the streets of Downtown Miami -- was...
Milka Duno's Miami effort short-circuited.
October 6, 2002 - Miami, FL -- Milka Duno's hopes for a good showing at the Cadillac American Le Mans Challenge -- part of the Grand Prix Americas race weekend on the streets of Downtown Miami -- was short-circuited right from the green flag's first wave.
This was the second straight paring of Duno, Christian Vann and popular British racing legend Hugh Chamberlain. The trio first hit the asphalt at September's Monterey Sports Car Championships where they were faced with a steep learning curve. This was the first American appearance of Chamberlain's Dome S-101/Judd LMP 900 -- and the first time the two drivers piloted the sleek prototype that was oh-so-quick at Le Mans.
As in Monterey as well, the team and drivers made progress with each on-track session on the 15-turn temporary street course that included portions of Miami's famous Biscayne Boulevard.
Vann placed the #27 multi-colored racecar 9th on the grid. Duno was targeted to start the race. Chamberlain felt that he and his top-notch crew had an ace in the hole as part of their race strategy -- as the car was proving to be very fuel efficient -- and he felt that he could make the 2-hour and 45-minute race with only one fueling -- which would be a tremendous advantage over their LMP 900 rivals.
When the grid ceremonies were complete and the cars were fired up by their anxious pilots -- Milka's car would simply not start. As her competitors left the grid one-by-one to begin their mandatory pace laps, the Chamberlain squad tried furiously to start the car -- it was only while deciding to push the car into the pits that Milka smartly popped the clutch which fired the V-1O with a roar. While happy that the car started -- Milka had gone from 9th to 35th even before the drop of the checkered flag.
For the next 90 minutes Milka fought the field valiantly -- taking her team's effort from 35th to 22nd. Then the gremlins struck back. While making a rapid emergency stop to avoid a spun-out competitor -- and as can often happen in that situation -- the car stalled. It would not restart. Vann never even got in the car. The hard working British crew was finished for the day.
"I was very happy to be racing for the first time in Miami, and very proud as well that my sponsors were here to see me compete," said Duno. "We all worked so hard -- the entire team -- and we were hoping for a good result. Unfortunately sometimes these things happen in racing -- yet it doesn't make it any easier to accept. I'm very thankful for the hard work of the team and I look forward to the next race."
"We had a very good plan," said Chamberlain. "We're really good on fuel. The car is exceptional with fuel mileage. We knew there was going to be a lot of stops and the plan was going to be to try and make it on one stop only. Normally the 900's can't do more than about an hour -- we believe that we can do about an hour and twenty minutes on a tank of fuel. With only having to stop once we would have been very competitive. But the whole thing was ruined right at the beginning when some as of yet undetermined electrical problem wouldn't allow the car to start -- and the same damned thing happened about an hour and a half later when the car wouldn't start after it had come to an emergency stop and stalled. Quite frankly, I don't yet know why the car wouldn't fire on the grid -- or when it stalled -- but rest assured I will."
"Unfortunately Milka had to start almost at the back of grid after the car failed to start," said teammate Vann. "Then the car ran perfectly and Milka's lap times kept falling and falling and she kept improving her position. She was actually turning lap times quicker than she had in our practice sessions. When a car spun out in front of her at turn two -- to avoid t-boning it -- the car stalled. It wouldn't re-fire -- and there's nothing you can do about that. We did take a number of positives out of the weekend though. We started out with quite a frightening car for the circuit -- as it was not designed for this kind of circuit at all. With quite a small amount of time here on the track we were able to get the car set up pretty damn good and our qualifying time was really quite encouraging. I know the team will rid the car of any gremlins that caused this trouble and I look forward to our next competition at Road Atlanta."
For more information on Milka Duno please visit her website at www.milkaduno.com.