Duno, Beretta and Team Disappointed with Mid-Ohio Result yet Optimistic for Daytona Race June 24, 2006, Los Angeles, CA...Milka Duno, Olivier Beretta and the CITGO Racing crew finished today's race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course...
Duno, Beretta and Team Disappointed with Mid-Ohio Result yet Optimistic for Daytona Race
June 24, 2006, Los Angeles, CA...Milka Duno, Olivier Beretta and the CITGO Racing crew finished today's race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course a disappointing 21st overall and 18th in class. A forced spin in the early stages of the race sent the #11 CITGO Pontiac Riley into the gravel and several laps down.
Milka took first stint and started the car 22nd on the 45-car grid. The mid-pack position was the result of a qualifying time the day before that was affected by a set up that had much room for improvement. The talented crew was able to optimize the set up in time for today's race.
On lap 11 of the race, Milka was carefully holding her own with two DP's battling just ahead of her. In addition, she was trying very hard to pass a competitor immediately in front of her who continually tried to block her. As a result of one of these many blocks and her need to suddenly brake because of it - she was touched from behind by another DP. It was this contact that sent her into a spin and ultimately into the gravel - requiring a tow out -- and a slide down to the 44th position.
In a race that was to see approximately a third of its laps run under caution, Milka mounted a charge to move up the field and recapture position. She continued until lap 63 -- when she brought the #11 CITGO Pontiac into the pits in 29th -- after gaining back 15 positions.
Olivier, fresh from his fifth class win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, began his stint in the 2 Hours and 45-minutes of Mid-Ohio with a tall order -- regain positions. From the start of his stint, and with only 36 laps left in the race, Olivier advanced the CITGO Racing effort yet another 8 positions and took the checkered flag 21st overall and 18th in class.
"It was so frustrating to be sent into the gravel and I was really trying very hard to make up time and position after that. We all worked so hard for a great finish here and Olivier brought such tremendous energy with him from his win at Le Mans. We started 22nd, were sent back to 44th and then finished 21st -- which means we were able to regain 23 positions in a very competitive race with many caution laps. This proves to me that we have a race-winning effort -- but unfortunately this just wasn't the race.
"During the practice we changed the car and improved the car, so that is a good point. Today, we had just a little contact with another DP car that touched Milka, and unfortunately, we spun. But this is racing, it's happened to every single driver. The positive thing is that it's only our second weekend together, but the crew did a good job and Milka and I also tried to do a good job. Little by little, we'll be there. We have to remember that we just started the program and the other big dogs have three-four years experience. I think it was quite a positive weekend."
Duno and the CITGO Racing team have double-duty with back-to-back races here at Mid-Ohio and then next week at Daytona. In fact, two races in only six days - as the next race is next Thursday, June 29 at Daytona International Raceway in Daytona Beach, FL.