RLR/Andersen's Rookies Gain Experience In Mid-Ohio Firestone Indy Lights Race LEXINGTON, Ohio, Aug. 9 - The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course did not provide any beginners' luck for RLR/Andersen Racing Firestone Indy Lights rookies Ali Jackson or Mario...
RLR/Andersen's Rookies Gain Experience In Mid-Ohio Firestone Indy Lights Race
LEXINGTON, Ohio, Aug. 9 - The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course did not provide any beginners' luck for RLR/Andersen Racing Firestone Indy Lights rookies Ali Jackson or Mario Romancini, as both were involved in incidents in the Mid-Ohio 100 Sunday morning and placed 16th and 17th, respectively.
The good news is that they both ran consistent laps and gained a great deal of experience that will be invaluable when they return. Romancini posted the team's best qualifying result of the year on a road or street course, and ran in fourth place for a good portion of the race. Jackson said his car's handling was very good throughout the event. Neither car was badly damaged in their separate incidents, either, which is great since there are two more races coming up this month.
Romancini, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, qualified fourth and remained in that position for 15 of the event's 40 laps around the challenging, 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course. At that point Felipe Guimaraes got around him to push him to fifth place. On the next lap Martin Plowman passed him to relegate Romancini's No. 5, which is sponsored by Andersen Racing, Revita Recycling, Win Brazil Marketing, Allied Interior Products and Lafarge North America, to sixth place.
On the following circuit Romancini and the seventh-place driver, Wade Cunningham, made contact in Turn 4 with 18 laps down, and Romancini's car spun off into a gravel trap. He regrouped, but finished three laps down in 17th position.
Jackson, of Moyvalley, Country Kildare, Ireland, started 15th in the No. 9 sponsored by the Moyvalley Golf and Hotel Resort and Allied Interior Products. He stayed in that position for the first four laps until Richard Philippe passed him. Stefan Wilson also got by on lap eight, but Jackson regained 16th on lap 10 when Charlie Kimball dropped back.
Jackson was back where he started in 15th by lap 13 after Sebastian Saavedra went off course while running in fifth place behind Romancini. Jackson then vaulted to 13th position when Romancini and Cunningham tangled with 18 laps down.
Wilson passed Ana Beatriz for 11th with 24 laps down, putting Jackson right behind Beatriz again, still in 13th place. He followed her for nine laps, patiently waiting to make a pass. Unfortunately they touched in Turn 12 with 33 laps down, resulting in Jackson spinning. He regrouped but fell to 16th place, which is where he finished.
Jackson's fastest lap was lap 11, which he did in 1:15.4576 for an average speed of 107.727 miles per hour. For a long time Romancini's fastest lap was lap 11 too, but he surpassed that on lap 29 when he was timed in 1:15.4627 for an average speed of 107.719 mph.
With three races remaining, Romancini is sixth in the point standings. Jackson, who did not compete in all the events, is 16th.
Polesitter James Davison led every lap to win easily over James Hinchcliffe and J.R. Hildebrand. VERSUS's telecast is scheduled for 4 p.m. Eastern time Monday.
The action now moves to Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. on Aug. 23 and Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., on Aug. 29. More information on the series can be found at indycar.com/pro.
For more information on Andersen Racing, which is sponsored by Allied Interior Products and Lafarge North America and offers programs in karting and Star Mazda in addition to Firestone Indy Lights, see its Web site at andersenracingteam.com. For more information on its 1-mile road course test track in Palmetto, Fla., see andersenracepark.com.
Ali Jackson: "My car was really good. It was a shame we had to start so far back due to the penalty in qualifying, because qualifying well is crucial here, as it is everywhere. I think if we could have started further up we would have had a top-eight finish, no doubt. We needed to trim it out a little more but the balance was good. It's just very hard to pass here. I was also at a disadvantage being a rookie and not knowing the track.
"I was following Ana for many laps before I had contact with her. It was my fault. I tried to pass her and we touched. Sometimes you just have to try it, but this time it didn't work out. That's it."
Mario Romancini: "I was able to stay in front of the pack of cars behind me until my car developed a lot of understeer, and the other guys were able to get close to me in the Keyhole. There was nothing I could do with the bar; it was already full soft.
"From that point on I was just trying to finish, but I got in an accident. I was side by side with Wade. I don't know what happened exactly, but we touched and I went into the gravel trap. Wade continued but lost positions. We both think it was just a racing thing.
"It was very sad and very bad for me. It was just one of those days where things don't go as we want. This was my worst race of the year. We'll just have to hope for a better result at the rest of the races."