Mid-Ohio Friday qualifying report

(LEXINGTON, Ohio) August 10, 2001-After a 30-minute qualifying session that saw the provisional pole change hands ten times, it was Brazilian Alex Sperafico who fought the good fight to hold onto the overnight pole. Lapping the sinuous 2.258-mile...

(LEXINGTON, Ohio) August 10, 2001-After a 30-minute qualifying session that saw the provisional pole change hands ten times, it was Brazilian Alex Sperafico who fought the good fight to hold onto the overnight pole. Lapping the sinuous 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 1:24.185 sec. for an average speed of 96.559 mph in his Bauducco Dodge Reynard, Sperafico waited until the 26th minute to post his time. Previously, the pole had been held by six different drivers among them Davy Cook and Sepp Koster who ended the session second and third respectively.

"The car was good at the beginning of the session and then it began to understeer a lot. I made some changes to the car at the end of the session I was able to find a lot of grip in turn-1 and some other corners where I previously couldn't go faster," said Sperafico who has previously driven in the Brazilian F-3 series. "I had lost radio communication midway through so I didn't even know I had the provisional pole until it was over. The track should be faster tomorrow with more rubber down but if it's still hot, I don't know what will happen."

The session began with cooler ambient temperatures than experienced during yesterday's test, but still amid thick, humid air. Matt Plumb was the first to rise to the top of the time sheets only to be quickly usurped by Ryan Hunter-Reay. Moments later Hunter-Reay was bested by Nicolas Rondet though he too was short-lived atop the times. Koster and Sperafico were next to stake their claim followed in quick succession by Rondet, Hunter-Reay and Plumb. Plumb was the would-be provisional polesitter for the next 11 minutes with a quick time of 1:24.492 sec. Afterwards he felt that he would have retained the pole if not for a mistake that had sent him off course, forcing a pit for new front tires and nose cover. In the 24th minute it was Cook's turn to take over the top spot in the CODI Inc. Dodge Reynard but the former Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship driver would have to bow to Sperafico.

"I learned in the Skip Barber Race Series and Formula Dodge National Championship how to carry momentum and flow to keep the car balanced to go quickly on these types of tracks and it paid off," said Cook of Tallahassee, Fla. Cook is currently involved in a four-way battle for the Rookie of the Year honor trailing Jon Morley by two points.

Dutchman Sepp Koster had an exciting session finding himself both at the top as well as firmly in the middle of the time sheets and had to contend with two off course excursions. Not one to succumb to hardships, he quickly gathered himself up to jump from ninth to third in the final minute.

"I am happy with the session today despite the troubles because I'm actually keeping my eye more on Matt (Plumb) and Nicolas (Rondet) than Davy or Alex and they are behind me today," said Koster who drives the No. 3 Stora Drain Dodge Reynard. "Going into the final session tomorrow we won't play it conservatively though. Last year I was on the provisional pole here and ended up qualifying fifth. So I'm going to do the simple thing and keep my head down and step on it."

Plumb ended the session fourth behind Koster but ahead of Rondet, Hunter-Reay and Roger Yasukawa his other principal rivals for the year-end title. Plumb and the rest however vowed to go more quickly in tomorrow's final battle for the pole. Rookie Christian Szymczak was fifth quickest ahead of Rondet (6th) and Hunter-Reay (7th). Impressive in his professional debut is Barber-CART Karting Scholarship winner A.J. Allmendinger of Hollister, Calif. Currently the runner-up in the battle for the 2001 Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER, Allmendinger, a protégé of Champ Car star Paul Tracy has performed solidly up to now in every session. Marc Breuers in ninth and Roger Yasukawa in tenth round out the Top-10.

Final Qualifying for round 9 of the Barber Dodge Pro Series in support of the CART FedEx Miller Lite 200 takes place at 11:30 a.m. EDT, Saturday, Aug.11. live timing from the session and the race are available on barberdodge.com.

-BDPS

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Series Barber Pro
Drivers Paul Tracy , Christian Szymczak , Davy Cook , A.J. Allmendinger , Marc Breuers , Roger Yasukawa , Sepp Koster , Skip Barber , Matt Plumb , Jon Morley