Laguna Seca first practice report

Matt Plumb emerged with the guns blazing in the first practice session for the Barber Dodge Pro Series 2nd Annual Racing for Kids Grand Prix at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. As the field of Barber Dodge drivers prepare for the...

Matt Plumb emerged with the guns blazing in the first practice session for the Barber Dodge Pro Series 2nd Annual Racing for Kids Grand Prix at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. As the field of Barber Dodge drivers prepare for the final race of the 2001 season, Plumb, who is looking to grab his second win of the season and perhaps edge up to second in the overall standings, led the way in the 30-minute practice session. Despite a dusty, and as a result slippery track, Plumb consistently lowered the mark to finish with a fairly quick time of 1:27.260 sec. around the 11 turns and 2.2 miles that Laguna Seca has on offer.

Afterwards, Plumb said ominously that he wasn't really pushing too hard and that the six-week break since round 11 at Vancouver has left him refreshed and determined.

By his own admission, championship points leader Nicolas Rondet was a surprising second quick. The fact that Rondet is fast is less of a surprise than the fact that he is quick in the first session of the weekend. He finished the session only a tenth of a second down on Plumb. Historically, the Frenchman takes his time getting up to speed, saving the best for final qualifying and the race. After scrubbing in his new Michelin Pilot SX sticker tires, Rondet spent the session relearning what he considers to be his home track in North America. The result starts him off full of confidence, as he needs only finish third or higher to claim the season crown.

Sepp Koster, currently second in the overall standings and the only driver who can take the title away from Rondet had a less enthusiastic result. Finding his car difficult to drive out of the box, Koster found himself going off course four times in the session, and found himself tenth quickest at the end of first practice. Although he hardly emerged pleased from the car, he was undeterred, confident that the handling problems will be sorted in time for the first qualifying session this afternoon.

The Rookie of the Year contenders had their share of ups and downs as well. Californian Christian Szymczak demonstrated his well-versed knowledge of Laguna Seca to end the session fifth overall. Trailing him by a tenth of second was Rafael Sperafico in sixth place. Davy Cook finished the session eighth quickest, one place ahead of Akihira Okamoto. All were reasonably pleased with the start to their weekend.

Jon Morley current rookie-leader managed to get in only six laps as compared to the 17-18 laps most of the other competitors were able to get in. A motor problem hindered his morning, yet like Koster he saw light at the end of the tunnel, knowing full well that the race is not won or lost at the end of the first session.

The first qualifying gets underway at 1:00 p.m. PDT. Follow the action via live timing and scoring on barberdodge.com.

-BDPS-

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Series Barber Pro
Drivers Christian Szymczak , Rafael Sperafico , Sepp Koster , Matt Plumb , Jon Morley