Sonoma: RLR/Andersen Racing race notes

Despite Blurred Visor, RLR/Andersen's Romancini Records Another Top-10 Finish Sunday at Infineon While Jackson Places 15th SONOMA, Calif., Aug. 23 - RLR/Andersen Racing's Mario Romancini only had one practice session, qualifying and a warm-up ...

Despite Blurred Visor, RLR/Andersen's Romancini Records Another Top-10 Finish Sunday at Infineon While Jackson Places 15th

SONOMA, Calif., Aug. 23 - RLR/Andersen Racing's Mario Romancini only had one practice session, qualifying and a warm-up session to learn Infineon Raceway's 12-turn, 2.303-mile road course before Sunday's Carneros 100 Firestone Indy Lights race. Somehow he was able to remember the lay of the track, turned when he needed to, kept his speed up and didn't hit anything, even though he couldn't see very well most of the race.

The car of a competitor ahead of him leaked oil so badly that Romancini's vision was seriously compromised, as he ran out of tearoffs and was forced to squint through a badly soiled visor for most of the race. Still, he recorded another solid top-10 finish when he persevered to place ninth in the 40-lap/92-mile contest.

With the strong finish, the Sao Paulo, Brazil-based driver sponsored by Andersen Racing, Revita Recycling, Win Brazil Marketing, Allied Interior Products and Lafarge North America remains in sixth place in the point standings with two races remaining.

His teammate, Ali Jackson of Moyvalley, County Kildare, Ireland, improved three positions from his 18th-place qualifying spot to finish 15th. It was Jackson's third finish in that position in the seven races he's competed in as a member of the Palmetto, Fla.-based team. He's also currently 15th in the point standings.

Jackson, who like Romancini is a rookie in this very competitive series, drives the No. 9 sponsored by the Moyvalley Golf and Hotel Resort and Allied Interior Products.

Both RLR/Andersen drivers actually started one spot higher than they qualified after the second-place qualifier, Sebastian Saavedra, was forced to start last due to an engine change after quals. That put Romancini in seventh and Jackson in 17th when the green flag dropped on the 19-car field.

Romancini remained in seventh place for the first 17 laps, running between the driver of the car that was leaking oil, Richard Philippe, and Charlie Kimball. The latter got around Romancini with 18 laps down to push him to eighth, while Wade Cunningham tried to close the gap behind him.

Cunningham spun in Turn 11 with 25 laps down, which cost him four positions on the track and helped Romancini in the point standings, since Cunningham is fifth to Romancini's sixth in points. Cunningham was able to continue without bringing out a yellow, while Romancini kept chasing Kimball with Saavedra now right behind him.

Romancini stayed in eighth until Saavedra passed him for that position with 32 laps down. Romancini was still in ninth, 1.3294 seconds behind Kimball and 1.7010 seconds ahead of Martin Plowman, when the checkered waved.

Jackson persevered too.

Saavedra got around him at the start but then the action slowed almost immediately after Gustavo Yacaman, who started right in front of Jackson, hit the wall in Turn 11 after contact with Daniel Herrington's car. Yacaman was done for the day but Herrington continued. Jackson was able to get around Pippa Mann in the early going and the driver who started beside Jackson, Juan Pablo Garcia, dropped back, so that vaulted Jackson to 15th by lap three. The event's lone full-course yellow was displayed from laps two through seven due to Yacaman's crash.

Mike Potekhen dropped from 13th to 16th with 16 laps down, which advanced Jackson to 14th place, but Mann repassed him with 21 laps complete to push him back to 15th. He was still in that spot, 3.5700 seconds behind Mann and 0.8867 of a second ahead of Potekhen, at the checkered.

Local favorite and polesitter J.R. Hildebrand had a whopping 15.8918 seconds margin of victory over Felipe Guimaraes at the end. James Davison was third, an additional 7.6485 seconds back. More than 13 seconds further back was Philippe, who somehow had enough oil left to be able to finish fourth. Ana Beatriz, who was about 3 seconds behind Philippe, rounded out the top five.

Romancini's fastest lap of the race was lap 13, which he did in 1:24.9454 for an average speed of 97.602 miles per hour. Jackson's fastest lap was lap 12, when he was timed in 1:25.4719 for an average speed of 97.000 mph.

Andersen Racing's multi-car Star Mazda team will be in action this coming Saturday too, as that series is part of a program headlined by the American Le Mans Series at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada.

Mario Romancini: "I had a good start and was able to hold my position. But then the car of the driver in front of me, Richard Philippe, started to leak oil. I ran out of tearoffs and my visor got very dirty, and basically I couldn't see anything all race long. It was hard.

"But I had a good car. We made some improvements after qualifying that helped, and I was able to do similar lap times to some of the drivers who finished in the top five, so that was good."

Ali Jackson: "The race went OK. I got up into P14 from 18th, but then I locked the rears going into Turn 7 and lost a place. My race pace was OK, but Sonoma is a very hard place to pass.

"I've been struggling this year with learning new tracks on the race weekends. With only 40 minutes practice before qualifying, it was very challenging."

-credit: rlr/ar

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Pippa Mann , Wade Cunningham , James Davison , Daniel Herrington , Richard Philippe , Sebastian Saavedra , Mike Potekhen , Martin Plowman , J.R. Hildebrand , Felipe Guimaraes , Mario Romancini , Gustavo Yacaman