THE SUPER TOURING STORY Lime Rock Park, CT - 5/25 & 5/27/96 DODGES DOMINATE SUPER TOURING OPENERS A year of hard work and preparation paid off for Dodge and the PacWest Touring Car Group as their two Dodge Stratus' split the wins at the first...
THE SUPER TOURING STORY
Lime Rock Park, CT - 5/25 & 5/27/96 DODGES DOMINATE SUPER TOURING OPENERS
A year of hard work and preparation paid off for Dodge and the PacWest Touring Car Group as their two Dodge Stratus' split the wins at the first ever Super Touring races in North America. The first race provided a lot of surprises, as Dominic Dobson's new teammate David Donohue carried the Dodge flag to the front of the field in his number 8. Dobson answered the challenge in Monday's second race with a convincing display of consistent lap times in the number 7 Dodge, as he led from the pole to the checkered flag. Neither round was a runaway, with numerous battles and challenges throughout the field.
The adrenalin was running a bit too high for some on the grid in race one. While many had practiced the standing starts, a race situation was a new experience for almost all. Dobson was on pole with Randy Pobst on the outside in his Honda Accord. At the green light, Dobson stalled the pole-sitting number 7, and experienced difficulty in getting restarted, resulting in frenzied passing maneuvers around him towards the first turn. Pobst took the lead, followed by Millen, Darren Law and Steve Petty in BMW's, Donohue, Dobson, Forrest Granlund in the Honda Accord, and Martin Stretton in the Mercedes.
Pobst, Millen and Law were beginning to pull away from the pack; not wanting to lose contact, Donohue dove under Petty entering Big Bend with Dobson following him. Up front Pobst encountered a back marker who blocked him momentarily allowing both Millen and Law past. Millen now led with Law and Donohue right there. Donohue slipped past Law and was able to make the pass stick. Dobson had been penalized for passing under yellow and with the "stop and go" penalty, had fallen down the field.
On lap ten Donohue went inside Millen going into Big Bend, and both Law and Pobst thought they saw opportunities for themselves as well. Through the esses Pobst pulled alongside and squeezed past Millen for second. Law tried to follow by going under Millen. Millen held his line and they made contact. The impact sheared Millen's right rear wheel off the Toyota, and damaged Law's car as well, taking both out. Petty was now in third with Granlund and Dobson charging hard behind him. While Donohue was opening up a lead, Dobson got by Granlund and then finally, Petty. Petty slipped up in the esses after the pass with a slight off-track excursion that cost him fourth position.
When the checkered flag flew, Donohue took the laurels and put his name in the books as the winner of the first Super Touring Race in North America. Pobst, Dobson, Granlund and Petty took second through fifth. The appreciative crowd gathered in the paddock following the race for the official autograph session, and to congratulate the drivers on a stirring show.
Qualifying for Monday's race two was additional evidence of the field's intensity. Dobson earned pole with a time a half second quicker than his previous time, with the the next three qualifiers also bettering Saturday's pole time. Vowing to not make "the same mistake again," Dobson was true to his word. This time he got a clean start. His teammate Donohue got another great start from his fourth place on the grid and led Dobson towards the first turn. Dobson wouldn't be denied however, and grabbed the lead going through Big Bend. He was never challenged seriously again.
Pobst excited the crowd with his driving style, and managed to pass Donohue briefly for second, only to loop it all by himself in West Bend. Gracious, yet exuberant as ever, Pobst thanked his fellow racers for not T-boning his spinning T.C. Kline Accord. " We've only had the car for a week..once it is set-up for our North American tracks, we'll do better." more... Donohue spent the remainder of the race chasing his teammate. "The car was working well, but had just a bit of understeer.... The Michelin tires had a surprising amount of grip."
At the checkered flag it was Dobson from Donohue by less than half a second in a Dodge one-two, with Pobst, Granlund, Millen and Petty, third through sixth. Dobson quipped, "This is the way it's supposed to be." He said, "I got by David in the first turn and had no problems afterwards....These good results are from lots of testing and hard work by our team." The fastest lap times from this second race clearly demonstrate that this is the start of some terrific close racing action between well matched cars and drivers.
It was an outstanding weekend for the Dodge and PacWest team, with shared victories, and a move to the next event in Detroit with teammates tied in the Driver's Championship.