Top Ten for Andreas Wirth in His Atlantic Championship Return Long Beach, California -- April 21, 2008 -- Top Ten for Andreas Wirth in His Atlantic Championship Return. Eager to pick up where he left off in 2006, Wirth was hopeful for a repeat...
Top Ten for Andreas Wirth in His Atlantic Championship Return
Long Beach, California -- April 21, 2008 -- Top Ten for Andreas Wirth in His Atlantic Championship Return. Eager to pick up where he left off in 2006, Wirth was hopeful for a repeat of his 2006 Long Beach sophomore run where he lead wire to wire. Sadly that was not to be the case this weekend due to mechanical woes and tight street racing.
The #88 WIRSOL/SUEBA USA Brooks Associates Racing entry threw a few extra challenges at Wirth early on in the weekend making life a little frustrating. "The first practice session didn't start out very well at all. In my first lap the screw broke on my gear shaft so I had to drive back to the pits and change it. That took 20 minutes out of a 45 minute session - that definitely doesn't help me" reported Wirth. "For sure I'm not happy with the position we ended up in, but considering I sat out a lot of the first practice, and I wasn't completely happy with the car yet, I think P6 isn't too bad for provisional qualifying. We'll just try harder tomorrow -- I'm confident we can make the right changes to the car, and then we just go from there."
Day two didn't prove to offer much more for Andreas and the 88 car as mechanical woes and close competition pushed him further back in the field. "We definitely had a top 4 car today but I had some issues with downshifting," explained Wirth. "We were running 2nd or 3rd on stickers but the other guys just kept getting faster, and then we had some issues toward the session with down-shifting. You can see how close the times are, so one little issue and that's what happens. It's too bad though, we definitely improved the car, but Bomarito (Jonathan) was fast!" With 8 being Andreas' lucky number, qualifying 8th for the Long Beach event in the #88 car didn't seem like such a bad thing. "Actually I never even thought about it at first!" said Wirth. "I guess it could work out for me though, turn one can be tricky, so we'll just have to wait and see what happens at the front of the pack."
Unfortunately for Wirth, luck had nothing to do with it in Long Beach. After a less than exciting race Wirth re-lived the highlights, "I had a great start for the race but I had to back off because the guy in front of me was breaking early and I couldn't get beside him -- there was no room to pass. At the beginning of the race it took a while for my car to get in, which wasn't good -- the guy in front of me drove away a bit then. As we got into it the car was great mid-race, we were so close together -- it was a bit of a parade - nobody was overtaking so it was quite tough. It was really boring to be honest -- nothing was happening! Cars in P2 or P3 through P10 were all doing the same times. After the caution my car went bad again - I was struggling a bit with grip and made a mistake and Strous (Junior) got by me."
Crossing the line in 9th place Wirth should be pleased to have captured a top-ten finish in his return to the Atlantic Series in a field of serious competitors. Summing up the weekend Andreas had this to say, "For my first weekend back (since 2006) it was good to get some points. It was tough though -- qualifying is so important here in Long Beach -- if we had been able to qualify in 2nd or 3rd we'd have finished in 2nd or 3rd -- it really counts to qualify well here. I guess I'm pretty happy overall though, a lot of these other guys have had a lot more time in the car than me but I still did not too bad. I have to thank my team as well for all their hard work -- it's great to be back at Brooks, and I'm sure we'll do better next time -- we deserve to be upfront. I can't wait to go racing again in a few weeks."
Round 2 of Cooper Tires Presents the Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda takes place on May 18th as the series makes their return to the ever popular road course at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey California.