Gearbox Failure Leads to Kite Accident in Indianapolis Practice Indy Veteran and PDM Racing Still Intend to be in "500" SPEEDWAY, Ind., May 16, 2007, Five-time Indianapolis 500 starter Jimmy Kite (a native of Missouri who grew-up in ...
Gearbox Failure Leads to Kite Accident in Indianapolis Practice
Indy Veteran and PDM Racing Still Intend to be in "500"
SPEEDWAY, Ind., May 16, 2007, Five-time Indianapolis 500 starter Jimmy Kite (a native of Missouri who grew-up in Stockbridge, Ga.) was uninjured today after a mechanical failure led to slight contact with the Turn One SAFER Barrier at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Kite, who was getting his first taste of the No. 18 Z-line Designs/PDM Racing Panoz/Honda/Firestone entry earlier today, had turned only 19 laps when, at 3:54 pm (ET), the PDM Racing machine spun. The car did a half spin and made light contact with the left front suspension. PDM Racing owner Paul Diatlovich (Indianapolis, Ind.) and veteran chief mechanic Rob Stark (Cucamonga, Calif.) determined that the spin, which occurred at approximately 206 miles per hour, was the result of a cracked gearbox. The team is currently assembling the pieces necessary to repair the minor damage to the suspension and replace the gearbox.
The mechanical failure occurred while the team was "shaking down" the No. 18 on the first day of the second week of practice for the 91st Running of the Indianapolis 500. The crack in the gearbox, which acts as a fully stressed member of the Panoz chassis, allowed the left rear suspension to collapse at the mounting point as Kite entered the turn. Even with his experience in an IndyCar, there was no way for Kite to know that the crack was present and would result in the failure.
In his limited running today, Kite was fourth quickest of the unqualified drivers that practiced. His fastest lap of the 2.5 mile oval was 204.193 mph, far below what Kite expects to be practicing and qualifying at when the car returns later this week. The team anticipates having the No. 18 back on track by Friday morning. The third day of qualifying, which will fill the remaining 11 positions in the 33-car field for the May 27th event, is scheduled for Saturday, May 19. Sunday, May 20, is "Bump Day" where hopeful teams that are not in the field by Saturday at 6 pm, will have their last chance to make the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing".
Jimmy Kite: "This is obviously a setback for us. It sure isn't the way we wanted to welcome Z-line Designs to the program. Paul and the whole PDM crew are working really hard right now to make sure we are ready to qualifying on Saturday. We were able to determine that the gearbox cracked where the left- rear suspension mounts to it. When I went into turn one, even though we were only going about 206 [mph] the suspension collapsed and we did a half spin. We barely hit the wall. Right now we are just trying to find the parts. I think we'll be back out there Friday morning. It won't leave us much time to find the speed we want but that is why Paul hired me. He knows I have been through all of this before at this place and I can just put it behind me. We'll all be ready to go on Friday and ready to qualify on Saturday."