(ELKHART LAKE, Wis.) August 18, 2001 -With dark clouds looming on the horizon, most of the Barber Dodge Pro Series drivers spent the morning fretting about the impending rain. Most that it is except Sepp Koster, the overnight polesitter. As it...
(ELKHART LAKE, Wis.) August 18, 2001 -With dark clouds looming on the horizon, most of the Barber Dodge Pro Series drivers spent the morning fretting about the impending rain. Most that it is except Sepp Koster, the overnight polesitter. As it turned out the rains came well after the Barber Dodge qualifying session ended, but Koster's top spot on the grid remained secure. His provisional time stood the test and as such earns a championship point. His best lap on Friday was recorded at 2:12.859 sec. for an average speed of 109.686 mph giving the Stora Drain Dodge Reynard driver from the Netherlands a six-tenths of a second gap over his nearest rival. The big surprise came just before the red flag for good flew in the 25th minute when Jon Morley suddenly appeared second on the timing screens in his Barber-CART Scholarship Team Dodge Reynard. Improving on his provisional time by 1.4 sec., Morley leapt from 13th to second best. The front row start is a career best for the 20-year old form Columbus, Ohio. Roger Yasukawa slipped from second overnight to third with his provisional time.
"I'm pretty happy with the way the session turned out today. Tomorrow is going to be another tough race like every Barber Dodge race. There are some guys who didn't qualify as well as they would have liked so they are going to be charging, so I'm going to keep my head down and be quick from the get-go," said Koster a former Benelux Formula Ford Champion.
Morley was the fastest driver of the day marking a huge improvement over his provisional time. He started the weekend in a back-up racecar, and because of his 6' 4' height, adjusting the cockpit to suit him requires some fine-tuning. By the mid-point of today's session, he found his comfort zone and began to go faster.
"I did what I could in the car yesterday and prayed that it would stay dry today and thankfully it did. It's really tough to keep a lap together here, but I feel like I put in a good one. I feel like I've got a good grip on the Rookie of the Year title but only a few points separate me from the others so you can never let your guard down. I'm going to go for the win, but I also need the points right now," said Morley who is currently the top rookie in the standings.
With a time to beat that was only two-tenths of a second short of a record, winning the pole would have to be a strong effort. It didn't bode well when the red flag came out only minutes into the session, indeed before any times could be posted. Ryan Hunter-Reay was building up a full head of steam when his right tires hooked the grass at the exit of turn-6 looping him into a fast spin that ended in contact with the wall. The session went green in the 9th minute but a local yellow this time at turn-8 deterred the drivers from going faster. Davy Cook stuck his car in the gravel traps ending his day. By the halfway point in the 30-minute session the top-5 stood from Friday. At the time championship leader Nicolas Rondet was the quickest driver on the track, but his pace was a full second off of the pole. Koster and Yasukawa were also fast though not fast enough. In the 23rd minute Morley set the fastest time of the day that was good for second overall. Just as he was on a charge for a quicker lap, he along with the rest of the field was shone a red flag drawing the session to a premature close. Like Hunter-Reay, Alex Sperafico lost control of his car in turn-6 and with only five minutes remaining the clean up would take longer than the time allotted.
Yasukawa was second quickest in the session.
"My car was good today and the track wasn't too bad either so I think I could have gone faster. I'm a bit disappointed because on my fastest lap my radio started to make a loud noise, so I was trying to disconnect it and keep my lap up. Third is still good and to tell you the truth I think it might be better than second. I'll try to get a good start and hopefully I'll be able to follow Sepp into turn-1 and then take it from there," said Yaukawa who drives the No. 8 Tokyo Ueno Clinic Dodge Reynard.
Title contender Matt Plumb slipped from third to fourth thanks to Morley. He was fourth quickest on the day as well. Rookie Davy Cook held on to a top-5 spot with the fifth quickest time despite going off track early. Another rookie Leonardo Maia, a Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship frontrunner who is making only his second Barber Dodge start ended impressively in sixth. Rondet will start seventh but he has a history of making passes and moving through the field at Road America. Hunter-Reay salvaged the eighth spot using his provisional time while Tommy Fogarty jumped from 11th on Friday to gain the ninth spot on the grid. Marc Breuers rounds out the Top-10.
The green flag falls on round 10 of the 2001 Barber Dodge Pro Series in support of the CART FedEx Motorola 220 at 3:45 p.m. CDT with live timing available on barberdodge.com.