Archangel's Devlin and McEntee take Sears Point win. May 19, 2002 Sonoma, CA - Bucking superstition, and perhaps conventional wisdom, Archangel entered this weekend's Grand Prix of Sonoma presented by Foster's with their Lola B2K/40 Millington...
Archangel's Devlin and McEntee take Sears Point win.
May 19, 2002 Sonoma, CA - Bucking superstition, and perhaps conventional wisdom, Archangel entered this weekend's Grand Prix of Sonoma presented by Foster's with their Lola B2K/40 Millington carrying the #13 - but, the #13, piloted by British standout Ben Devlin and Sears Point ace Dave McEntee took the checkered flag first in the LMP 675 Class.
While taking the win set aside traditional concerns associated with the #13, it certainly didn't start out that way. Routinely third in class for the testing and practice sessions, in qualifying for the grid and missing Saturday's second practice session altogether - it appeared that selecting the #13 for the team's entry may have "cast a spell" over the team. But early in the race Devlin, having started second in class found himself in the lead, due in part to class pole-sitter Intersport starting the race stuck on pit row, and KnightHawk's MG Lola seriously delayed off-track at turn electrical problems.
While luck may have delivered the lead - it was Devlin"s and McEntee's driving skills that maintained the lead against strong assaults by both of the two favored MG Lola's.
Devlin started the race second in class, after KnightHawk was bumped to pole due to Intersport's MG Lola being stuck on pit lane at the start. Within forty minutes from the start of the race Devin found himself leading the 675 pack - and never looked back. Devlin not only maintained the lead he extended to as much as an 9-lap lead at one point. At 2:46, teammate and Sears Point Instructor McEntee took over driving duties and maintained the lead - despite a very strong challenge from the two MG Lola's - to take the LMP 675 class win at 3:59PM after completing 75 laps.
This was the first outing for the new "Millington" powered Lola B2K/40. The 2.0 litre turbocharged Millington was developed by England's Marshall Cooke Enterprises - which also acts as a major sponsor for the effort. With such a strong showing in it's very first outing, it's assured that plenty of Lola B2K/40 owners will take a "look see" at the new power plant. Representatives from Marshall Cooke were present for the race - and for the winner's circle awards.
This race also marked a period of transition for the Archangel Motorsports squad. Not only was it a switch to the American Le Mans Series by the two-time Rolex SPRII championship team, it was also the team's first race since the Rolex race at Homestead earlier this year when they lost a very good friend and teammate Jeff Clinton.
"I'm just really happy for this team after all they've gone through at Homestead and losing our dear friend Jeff Clinton. This win was totally unexpected," said team owner Mike Johnson. "Our goal when we left the shop at Road Atlanta was to simply start and finish - and if we finished the race it would have been a major achievement. To walk out of here with a victory for Jeff (Clinton) and the team is just awesome. The team has been working very hard for a long time, as have the Marshall Cooke crew - it's really nice to have this win. It's a really emotional victory for us because when something like Homestead happens its very hard to find the strength to go on. Every day you ask yourself - 'Why am I doing this?' - and then you win and it all seems worth it."
"This was a fantastic race, a great race, on I was on the edge for the entire time," said Ben Devlin. "I so enjoyed the drive. The power was there, we knocked the boost back a little bit and we even gave the Panoz/Mugen's some trouble. Believe me - there's a lot more power in there and I look forward to a very exciting year. Although we did take the win, I didn't feel that I was 100% yet. November was the last time I was in this car. I think it has shown definite strength and I can't wait to give it my full 100% and take it to 100%. I can't say enough about the support of both the Archangel and Marshall Cooke teams - they made this happen."
"The Archangel crew really came through, said Dave McEntee. "They prepared a great car, even while very busy running to Le Mans and running back again - they deserve a lot of credit. Ben (Devlin) did just an outstanding job of keeping the lead and handing the car off to me in great shape. I took over in the dry, and because the car was set-up for the wet, it was a little difficult at times. I'm glad I was able to maintain the lead that Ben so firmly established and am very happy for the win - especially here at my home track. It makes the win all the more special. My thanks as well for the support of the Jim Russell Racing School and Frank Howard Allen - for without their support my win here would not have been possible."
For updated information on Ben Devlin you can access his site at www.bendevlin.com, while Dave McEntee is at www.dmracing.com.