PHILIPP PETER CAPTURES FOURTH PLACE AT TORONTO SONOMA, Calif. (July 20, 1998) - - In an essentially error free race that was absent of caution flags, round nine of the 13-race PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship proved to be more of a...
PHILIPP PETER CAPTURES FOURTH PLACE AT TORONTO
SONOMA, Calif. (July 20, 1998) - - In an essentially error free race that was absent of caution flags, round nine of the 13-race PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship proved to be more of a race of endurance, patience, and strategy for Dorricott Racing's Philipp Peter, of Austria, in scoring a fourth place finish, Sunday, July 19, at Toronto's Exhibition Place. Teammate Oriol Servia, of Pals, Catalonia, Spain, finished 10th.
An early boost to Peter's efforts came when the 21-car Indy Lights field successfully maneuvered through perilous turn one - a 90 degree left-to-right corner renown for drawing yellow flags. Peter, who started fourth, held his position through the first set of corners to quickly maintain his hold on fourth place.
Meanwhile, Servia displayed timing and tact around the 1.721-mile, 11-turn street circuit when he scooted past series points leader Cristiano da Matta and Sergio Paese on the first half of the lap to assume sixth place after starting eighth. Servia continued his climb when he passed Didier Andre on lap four. The top-five ran unencumbered for the next 15 laps before race leader Guy Smith, Naoki Hattori, and Chris Simmons began to inch away from the field including Peter. Peter fell 4.162-seconds off the pace following lap 20 of the 43-lap Indy Lights sprint.
Tire wear became the Achilles heel for Peter and Servia during the later stages of the race. Servia, who ran strong, consistent laps for the first 27 laps, was re-passed on lap 29 by Andre. Peter established a two-second cushion over Andre, but he was unable to improve his position.
Servia's lap times slowly increased as the race neared completion. A nose-to-tail challenge on lap 35 by Felipe Giaffone and a fast closing Jorge Goeters turned to a three-lap cat-and mouse game before Giaffone found the opening and successfully passed Servia for sixth place on lap 38. Goeters sneaked around Servia with Airton Dare on lap 39. Paese took advantage of Servia's tire woes on lap 43 with an "at the flag" pass for ninth, leaving Servia in 10th place.
"I tried to keep fast times but the car was growing more loose," said Servia. "The car turned out to be more stiff for the type of race I ended up running than we anticipated. It was fast, but it used up the tires. I just didn't have enough tire down the stretch to hold my positions."
Peter faced similar threats on the closing laps but was able to maintain lap times that insulated him from any close encounters.
"I tried early in the race to keep up with the front three cars," said Peter. "I developed an oversteer and I knew that if I tried to stay with them, I would use my tires too quickly. I backed off a little but I was still losing a tenth of a second per lap.
"I got stuck behind Paul Morris and he tried to slow me down so he could give Andre a chance to catch me. Indy Lights officials 'flagged' Morris to let me pass. I pushed to the limit for the next five laps to increase my lead over Andre. That allowed me to safely bring home fourth place. It's important that I scored points and improved my position in the series championship. Fourth place is a good finish here."
Peter's fourth place showing at Toronto earned 12 championship points and moved him into a tie with Derek Higgins for sixth place in the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship with 55 points. Smith, who has 82 points, leads Peter and Higgins for Rookie-of-the-Year honors by 27 points going into next weekend's 10th round at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich. Servia improved to 14th overall with 31 points.
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