Dorricott Racing Long Beach Race Report

PHILIPP PETER CAPTURES INDY LIGHTS RACE AT LONG BEACH LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 18, 1999) - - Philipp Peter, of Monte Carlo, Monaco, meshed cautious optimism with fate in capturing his first career PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship...


LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 18, 1999) - - Philipp Peter, of Monte Carlo, Monaco, meshed cautious optimism with fate in capturing his first career PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship race at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Sunday, April 18. Peter, who started fourth, maintained a front-running presence throughout the race but primarily on the heels of polesitter Felipe Giaffone, of Brazil. Peter started strong by passing third-place qualifier Didier Andre on the opening lap while entering turn one of the 11-turn, 1.82-mile street circuit. Peter then slid past outside polesitter Guy Smith when Smith contacted the wall and was forced to retire. Giaffone's lead was relatively unchallenged during the first 38 laps of the 41-lap/74.62-mile Indy Lights sprint until fate intervened on Peter's behalf with three laps remaining. Giaffone's near certain victory evaporated when his car ran out of fuel. Peter seized the moment and piloted his Red Bull/Remus/ ESTEBE/Chicco d' Oro Lola across the start-finish line for the win on a 1.369-second margin of victory over race runner-up Scott Dixon. "There wasn't any chance of me catching Felipe (Giaffone) unless something unexpected happened in my favor," said Peter. "That turned out to be the case. We were running strong throughout the weekend but not as fast as Felipe. The car was a bit too sharp on the bumps and I knew I didn't have what it would take to simply outpace other cars. I had to race for position and make sure I didn't give up any ground once I earned it. We decided we had to have a fast car on the straight-aways and the crew was able to provide that." Peter's triumph ended a two year absence from victory lane. His last race win came while driving for the Audi Sport Team in German Touring Car competition in 1996. It also improved Peter's previous career best finish of second place at St. Louis last year. Meanwhile, Long Beach ended Dorricott Racing's victory circle drought of nearly three years. Its last win came in June, 1995, at the Detroit Grand Prix with driver Robbie Buhl. The overall tone of the race was distinctly "Dorricott" as Peter's teammates Oriol Servia and Casey Mears also played key roles in the final outcome. Servia, of Pals, Catalonia, Spain, started ninth in the 19-car field and quietly advanced until he caught up with Peter. Servia's initial charge came on the opening lap when he scooted past five cars and into fourth place. Servia passed Andre for third place on lap seven and held the position until lap 35 when he was passed by Dixon. Lap 36 began the end of Servia's day when he locked his brakes entering turn one and slid into the adjacent tire barrier. Servia was uninjured but unable to finish the race. "I tried to keep with Philipp through the corners once I caught him," said Servia. "The lack of down-force played hard on my tires so I was quickly loosing tire grip late in the race. I developed a little push, but that didn't really affect why I missed the corner and hit the tire barrier. I just made a mistake. I feel badly for the crew because they gave me a great car and worked hard in preparing it. I'm confident we can continue prepping a good car so we'll have other opportunities in other races." Dorricott Racing's "hard luck kid," Casey Mears, reversed a weekend of frustration and turned his 12th place starting position into a fifth place race finish. There wasn't any magic to Mears finish. He simply started passing cars with incredible efficiency and was able to avoid untimely traffic. Mears passed Andy Boss on the opening lap, and then passed two more cars by lap three to move into ninth place. Mears took advantage of a race re-start on lap 10 and moved into seventh place by lap 11. The Bakersfield, Calif., native took over sixth place on lap 36, and climbed to fifth place with two laps remaining in the race. "Considering all the mechanical problems we faced throughout the weekend and the lack of track time, it was great just to finish the race," said Mears. "We were more competitive than I thought we would be but we started with a solid base and had all the basic handling factors well understood." In recording his career best result on a street circuit, Mears also scored his second consecutive fifth place finish, which pushed him into a tie with Peter for third place in the Indy Lights Championship with 20 points. Peter, who finished out of the points at Homestead in 13th place, earned 20 points for the win. Servia earned one point and is in ninth place with nine points. Round three of the 12-race PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship will be at Nazareth Speedway, Sunday, May 2.

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Series Indy Lights
Drivers Guy Smith , Casey Mears , Robbie Buhl , Didier André , Scott Dixon , Oriol Servia , Philipp Peter