DETROIT (May 26, 2000) - A busy schedule of Dayton Indy Lights Championship group testing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and the Milwaukee Mile concluded earlier this week on the Wisconsin oval track. Every team contesting the full 2000 season...
DETROIT (May 26, 2000) - A busy schedule of Dayton Indy Lights Championship group testing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and the Milwaukee Mile concluded earlier this week on the Wisconsin oval track. Every team contesting the full 2000 season and 19 drivers participated in the tests that were held at Mid-Ohio for two days last week and at Milwaukee this past Monday and Tuesday.
Unofficial times recorded by CART Timing had Jonny Kane (KOOL Lola) fastest at Mid-Ohio while championship points leader Scott Dixon (Powerware/PacWest Lights) reportedly set the pace in Milwaukee. The general consensus in the Milwaukee paddock was that defending pole-winner Felipe Giaffone (Hollywood Lola), his Conquest Racing teammate Chris Menninga (Mi-Jack Lola) and PacWest's other driver Tony Renna (Motorola/PacWest Lights Lola) were just a tick off of Dixon's leading pace. The Long Beach winner lapped in the 25-flat second range, about 1/10th quicker than Giaffone, Menninga and Renna. The laps compare favorably to Giaffone's 1999 pole-winning lap of 24.918 seconds (149.097 mph).
"Our drivers (Dixon and Renna) were happy with their cars," said PacWest Lights Team Manager Paul "Ziggy" Harcus. "We made them run with a push to keep them off the walls because with just a week before the race we want to make sure they have good, solid cars underneath them."
At Mid-Ohio, Kane, who set the pace on the 2.258-mile track at an average speed of 108.437 mph (1:14.963 seconds), joined most of his colleagues in making his first visit to the Buckeye road course. The test marked the first organized Indy Lights activity at Mid-Ohio since the series last raced there in 1994.
"It is a really fun track to drive and I am looking forward to the race here," Kane said. "We arrived with a good package which we have worked on to get the car to feel more comfortable and consistent. I feel confident that when we come back in August for the race we will be at the front."
Kane's quick time was closely followed by rookie Jason Bright (Dorricott Racing Lola) who toured the track at an average speed of 108.410 mph (1:14.982 seconds). Menninga clocked in third fastest overall at an average speed of 108.368 mph (1:15.011 seconds).
The Mid-Ohio test went down without a major incident, but rookies Jeff Simmons (KOOL Lola), Luis Diaz (Quaker State Mexico Lola), Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola), Rolando Quintanilla (Prodigy Internet Lola) and veteran Cory Witherill (WSA Healthcare Lola) were uninjured in Thursday accidents at Milwaukee. Each of the drivers hit the Turn 2 wall after heavy winds settled over the race track in the afternoon.
Rain interrupted the opening day of practice at each track, but conditions cleared at both venues by day two.
Round Two of the 2000 Dayton Indy Lights Championship will be held at the Milwaukee Mile, June 4 (ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET). Two pre-event practice sessions will be run at the track on Thursday, starting at 1:30 p.m. CT.
GODIN HAS A GO
Indy Lights and Formula 3000 veteran driver Bertrand Godin joined Witherill and Genoa Racing at the Mid-Ohio test. The popular French Canadian did about 20 laps in Witherill's WSA Healthcare Lola in order to give the team some additional information and set-up suggestions.
"Our engineer Remi Lanteigne has know Bertrand for some time and suggested we invite him to join us at the Mid-Ohio test," said Genoa Team Manager Ed Nelson. "We were real happy with his feedback, and he worked real hard at helping us understand what the car was doing and made some good suggestions. It was great working with him."
Godin was part of the successful Player's/Forsythe Racing Indy Lights team in 1995 and 1996 when the group won back-to-back Indy Lights titles with the late Greg Moore and David Empringham, respectively. Godin's eight career Indy Lights starts consisted of four consecutive races each season, and he scored a best-career finish of fifth in his home province of Quebec at Trois-Riviéres in 1996. He finished every race contested and twice placed seventh at Toronto in addition to sixth at Cleveland in 1995. His best qualifying effort was third at Portland in 1995.
Godin later moved to European Formula 3000 competition near the end of the 1990s but budget problems precluded any consistent success.