Tora Caught Out In The Rain At Wet And Wild Elkhart Lake INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 20, 2001 - Walker Racing rookie driver Tora Takagi and the Walker Racing team experienced all that Mother Nature had to offer at Road America last weekend, from perfect...
Tora Caught Out In The Rain At Wet And Wild Elkhart Lake
INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 20, 2001 - Walker Racing rookie driver Tora Takagi and the Walker Racing team experienced all that Mother Nature had to offer at Road America last weekend, from perfect weather conditions to qualifying in a light rain to the start of the race just after a huge downpour and the #5 Pioneer/DENSO Special/Toyota/Reynard/Firestone car performed perfectly in all.
The weekend began in promising fashion as Tora posted the quickest time of all drivers on the 4.048-mile permanent road course during the first practice session on a gorgeous day in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. On Saturday, weather conditions changed from being dry during the morning practice to light rain during qualifying which forced all the drivers to switch to rain tires. Despite the changes in the weather, the team gave Tora a great car and he posted the third-fastest speed in the first qualifying group. When the second group of cars took to the track, the rain showers ended and the track dried sufficiently enough for 10 drivers in the last group to post faster times. Tora still ended up in 13th place on the starting grid.
Sunday's Motorola 220 race began under yellow flag conditions just after a torrential downpour ended. The track went green on Lap 5.
"On the sixth lap I avoided an accident in front of me but then was hit on the side by (Roberto) Moreno," Tora explained. "My car spun and stalled out, but it was able to be restarted, so we were able to get back to the pits without losing a lap."
The Walker Racing crew checked the car thoroughly, changed to a new set of rain tires, re-fueled, and sent him back out. On Lap 9, Tora returned to the pits for a set of slick tires since the track was drying out, and on the tail end of his next lap, he hit the only standing body of water left on the track surface and hydroplaned into the wall. He finished in 22nd position.
"It is disappointing to end up like this after our very good performance all weekend long," said Tora.
The Motorola 220 was red-flagged for approximately 50 minutes following Tora's accident while the CART safety team dried the water hazard that sent Tora spinning.
"It was a great pity that the race ended as it did for us," owner Derrick Walker commented. "The adverse weather conditions caught us in a race mode with the available grip that was out there and the river of water that went across the track that caught us out. But on a positive note, the car was very predictable in wet and dry conditions and we were in the hunt all weekend and we had the potential to do really well. We got a little too racy too soon and got caught out."
Round 15 of the CART FedEx Championship Series will take place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on Sunday, September 2nd. The Molson Indy Vancouver race will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. (ET).