Vancouver: Round eight preview

July 23, 2003-The Barber Dodge Pro Series will head north this weekend to beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, to contest round eight of ten in the 2003 championship on the 1.781-mile temporary street circuit on the streets of Vancouver. Leo...

July 23, 2003-The Barber Dodge Pro Series will head north this weekend to beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, to contest round eight of ten in the 2003 championship on the 1.781-mile temporary street circuit on the streets of Vancouver. Leo Maia of Oakland, California, leads the championship standings with a stout thirty-six point lead over Mexico's Memo Rojas, who is himself just two points ahead of Dan Di Leo, who in turn is only two points ahead of David Martinez.

The last Barber Dodge race, held in Toronto, Ontario, was the site of another breakthrough victory as Memo Rojas of Mexico City, Mexico, drove his Telmex-backed machine into victory circle after storming to the front in a race that saw four different drivers hold the lead. The win was Rojas' first in his Barber Dodge Pro Series career, and vaulted him into second place in the championship standings. Rojas joined Dan Di Leo of Markham, Ontario, and David Martinez, of Monterrey, Mexico, as first time winners in Barber Dodge competition this season.

The win also took Rojas to the top of the order in the Dodge Trans-Canada Challenge, which will award the driver who scores the most championship points in the three Canadian events, Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, significant funding towards additional Barber Dodge races with backing from Dodge. Maia, who has stood atop the championship standings since the opening round in St. Petersburg, Florida, is hoping to clinch the championship this weekend, but is coming off of a difficult race in Toronto, where he scored his worst finish of the season after he spun and fell down the order before charging back to finish in ninth, setting a new track record on the way to score one more precious point towards his championship. The result was the first finish out of the top five since Mid-Ohio in 2002 for the championship leader. Maia has a mathematic chance of taking the championship so long as he can score a perfect weekend-twenty points for a win, two for taking both qualifying pole positions, and a final point for fastest lap of the race- but he will also need his championship contenders do not finish on the podium.

"I would love to clinch the championship here with a perfect weekend, but if it doesn't happen, that's fine, I just want to get as many points as possible on these guys," said Maia. "I have a really good street course set-up, and I like this track, so am confident heading into the weekend that I can bounce back from Toronto and score another good result."

David Martinez has been fast and consistent, scoring top-five finishes in five of the six races he has entered, is looking forward to the Vancouver round with the hope of closing in on Maia.

"I just want to keep scoring as many points as possible, since anything can happen from here," said Martinez. "I have a bit of a disadvantage, not having raced in the first race as far as the points go, but I am just trying to go as fast as I can on these tracks that I am learning for the first time, and that's all I can do. You never know how things are going to end up, so you just have to fight for every point you can get all weekend."

Notes:

* Chris Baker will be making his return to the Pro Series after sitting out two rounds when he injured his hand in qualifying for the Portland race. Baker received surgery from Dr. Trammel and is currently doing light physical training to recover from the injury, and recently made use of his time off by making a guest appearance in the production of the Cleveland round race for Speed TV.

* Ward Imrie of Winnipeg, Manitoba, scored a strong sixth place in his Barber Dodge Pro Series debut last round in Toronto, and is rejoining the fray for his second Barber Dodge start. Drivers can compete in three races and still be eligible for Rookie of the Year consideration the following (2004) season.

* The Rookie of the Year battle is just that, a close battle, as Colin Fleming leads Burt Frisselle, Scott Poirier, and Luis Pelayo. The four young racers are separated by just twenty-one points. The Rookie of the Year receives significant funding toward a second season of Barber Dodge competition.

* Salvador Duran will become the third Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER Magazine driver (joining Ben Freudenberg and Ward Imrie) to make the step up to the Barber Dodge Pro Series this season as the young Mexican makes his debut in Vancouver.

The Barber Dodge Pro Series is the Official Entry Level Professional Series of Champ Car. The drivers utilize identically prepared single seat open wheel Reynard-Dodge racecars. Barber Dodge Pro Series provides a level playing field where driving talent, not financial resources, play the decisive role. This state-of-the-art platform, with its carbon composite construction, raised nose and 6-speed sequential gearbox, takes full advantage of the 265hp all aluminum Dodge V6 Intrepid motor that is exclusive to this series. Additionally, all of the Barber Dodges compete on identical Michelin Pilot racing slicks.

To ensure absolute equality for all competitors, the Barber Dodge Pro Series owns, maintains, prepares and transports all the cars and equipment. This serves to control costs while allowing the drivers to concentrate solely on developing their driving skills. The Barber Dodge Pro Series rewards those with dedication and skill with true financial incentive - an incredible $55,100 in prize money is available for each Barber Dodge Pro Series event with $13,000 going to the race winner. The overall Series Champion receives a $100,000 scholarship towards entry in the Toyota Atlantic Championship, and the series Rookie of the Year receives $185,000 in career enhancement funding. In total, the Barber Dodge Pro Series pays out over $1 million annually in prize money, contingencies and scholarships.

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Series Barber Pro
Drivers Ward Imrie , Memo Rojas , Chris Baker , Burt Frisselle , Scott Poirier , David Martinez , Luis Pelayo , Salvador Duran , Ben Freudenberg