MICHAEL TODD DAVID FINISHES 11th AT VANCOUVER VANCOUVER, B.C. (Sept. 5, 1998) - In what turned out to be one of the most surprising, eventful races of the 1998 Atlantic season, Michael Todd David and the PDR-Water Joe/Autodesk Racing...
MICHAEL TODD DAVID FINISHES 11th AT VANCOUVER
VANCOUVER, B.C. (Sept. 5, 1998) - In what turned out to be one of the most surprising, eventful races of the 1998 Atlantic season, Michael Todd David and the PDR-Water Joe/Autodesk Racing Team were dealt "ace" cards that cashed out 11 positions higher than where they started in round 11 of the 13-race KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship at the Molson Indy Vancouver, Sept. 5.
David, who qualified 22nd in the PDR/Water Joe/Autodesk Ralt RT-41, had "breaks" in his favor as he claimed an 11th place finish in a race that will long be remembered among Atlantic followers.
The first six laps of the 38-lap Atlantic sprint were orderly with the usual amount of position changes in the middle of the 26-car field, and the key front-runners maintaining holds on the top five spots. David started strong and improved five positions to 17th by lap four.
All of that changed on lap seven when veteran driver Frank Allers' car began leaking fluid while entering turn one. Allers, who started 23rd, lost control when fluid washed his tires, sliding him across the track and into the wall. This triggered a chain reaction where the car immediately behind Allers slid but recovered through turn one.
The proceeding car wasn't as fortunate and slammed into the tire barrier. By this time, the top-five race leaders had rounded turn 14 on the 1.802-mile street circuit and sped toward turn one unaware of the fluid spill. Leader Jeff Shafer slid sideways through turn one and into the tire barrier (driver's left). The same fate struck Anthony Lazzaro who slid sideways into Shafer. Alexandre Tagliani, who was running in third place, slid into Lazzaro. Memo Gidley was next in line but was able to stop inches short of Tagliani. Gidley's luck was brief as he was lightly struck from behind by Lee Bentham only moments later.
The mayhem was over before a red flag could be issued, but not before David had "dodged the bullet" and slipped into 11th place.
"It had been so long since we had a rolling start on a road course in Atlantic that I thought we might have a pile-up on the start," said David. "The start was cleaner than I would have guessed. There was a little bumping but nothing unusual or damaging.
"One of the cars ahead of me started leaking fluid, so I slowed earlier than normal heading into turn one. That was good timing because I saw the pileup in turn one as I approached. I dropped to around 30 miles per hour before I ran through the fluid and started sliding a little. It was pretty slick and I saw cars piled up or stopped through the next turns. Keeping clear of the mess was challenging."
The race resumed on lap 23 where David was passed by Gidley for 11th. David held 12th for the next 12 laps before losing a position to Mike Conte. David regained 11th place on lap 37 when Derek Hill fell out of the race.
"Conte gave me a good run after the re-start," said David. "We battled for 12 laps, but then when I lifted my foot from the throttle heading into turn four, the rear of the car felt like it 'locked up' and I went into a slight spin; later we found this was due to differential problems. That allowed Conte catch and pass me on the inside of the turn. I'm not sure what caused the 'lock-up,' but I'm confident the team will have it figured out and we'll be ready and competitive for Laguna Seca."
David scored five championship points to remain in 14th place overall with 37 points, and collected $2,000 in purse money.
David also finished 11th place with 19 points in the 1998 Player's Challenge for the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship. Vancouver was the fourth and final round of the Player's Challenge, which recognizes the efforts and results of the 15 highest placing Atlantic drivers who earn the most points in the series' Canadian events. A total prize fund of $70,000 (US) will be awarded.
Laguna Seca and round 12 of the 1998 KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship is next for the PDR Enterprises/Water Joe-Autodesk Racing team, Saturday, Sept.12, in Monterey, Calif. David finished fourth place in last year's Atlantic season finale at Laguna Seca.
ESPN2 will telecast round 11 from Vancouver this Sunday, Sept. 6, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET (10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. PT).