STORMY NIGHTS SET THE TONE FOR DORRICOTT RACING AT THE MILWAUKEE MILE WEST ALLIS, Wis. (May 31) - - Changing track and weather conditions with a touch of racer's bad luck contributed to...
STORMY NIGHTS SET THE TONE FOR DORRICOTT RACING AT THE MILWAUKEE MILE
WEST ALLIS, Wis. (May 31) - - Changing track and weather conditions with a touch of racer's bad luck contributed to a disappointing but nonetheless productive race weekend for Dorricott Racing at the Milwaukee Mile and round five of the 14-race PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship.
Only hours before Indy Lights officials, teams, drivers, and track workers gathered at the Wisconsin State Fair Grounds for today's 97-lap Indy Lights sprint, a violent thunderstorm rampaged through the track and nearby downtown Milwaukee downing trees, power lines, and damaging many of the temporary structures built for today's race. In many ways, the storm was an omen for Dorricott Racing's talented driver trio of Oriol Servia, Bud Kaeding, and Philipp Peter.
Servia, of Pals, Catalonia, Spain, qualified third and was off to a strong start when he passed outside polesitter Tony Renna in the first turn to start the race. What he didn't anticipate was a quick charge from Felipe Giaffone from fifth on the grid, who then caught and passed Servia for second place on lap three. Servia dropped to fourth place on lap 22 as Derek Higgins found his way through traffic after starting seventh. Servia continued to slowly lose ground to where he was eighth place on lap 69 and eventually 14th for the race. What bothered him most was he drove a good race but against factors out of his control. "The car was more loose during the race than I would have expected," said Servia. "It kept getting worse to the point that I was afraid I might crash on the last laps if I wasn't very careful. I was able to take the corners on a low line early in the race, but it was impossible to take the same line as the race wore on. It's disappointing because we had such a good qualifying session, and then I was able to move quickly into second place. The car couldn't take it today." Kaeding was also off to a strong start after starting fourth in only his second career Indy Lights race. After dropping three positions at the start, the talented sprint car ace from Campbell, Calif., was running confident and true when he was struck driver's right by Guy Smith on lap 37. Both cars careened into the outside wall taking Shigeaki Hattori and Australian Paul Morris with them. Kaeding was uninjured but despondent over the premature end of his race.
"I was running a solid race," said Kaeding. "I was on a straight line and running even. I don't think my car drifted anywhere but then I felt wheels coming down on my right side and that was all she wrote."
Peter, of Monte Carlo, Monaco, finished the race unscathed but disappointed that he couldn't improve on his eighth place qualifying session.
"I had an oversteer problem early in the race and then the car was getting loose as the race progressed," said Peter. "A couple of cars in front of me had similar problems so I thought I might be able to catch them. The problem is my car was so sensitive to track temperature that as the track cooled later in the race, the car became more loose. One thing I've learned from racing on the CART ovals is that your car has to be just about perfect in its set-up or you can't take chances. You can only push your limits so far. I thought it would be better to finish than to gamble. We collected more points which could make a difference down the stretch."
Peter's ninth place showing at Milwaukee earned four championship points and moved him to fourth place in the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship with 34 points. Peter trails Higgins in the Rookie-of-the-Year tally after five races by one point, 35 to 34. Servia is 16th overall with 12 points.
Round six of the 1998 PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship will be next Sunday, June 7, from Belle Isle in Detroit, Mich.