Team Rahal notes 98-07-28

THE SCOOP News You Can Use From Team Rahal Volume 4, Number 12.5 Trois Rivieres Flight School Team Rahal Indy Lights driver Mike Borkowski inadvertently earned his wings during last weekend's Detroit News 100 at Michigan Speedway.

THE SCOOP

News You Can Use From Team Rahal

Volume 4, Number 12.5 Trois Rivieres

Flight School Team Rahal Indy Lights driver Mike Borkowski inadvertently earned his wings during last weekend's Detroit News 100 at Michigan Speedway. The second-year series driver, without any previous flight experience, took the ride of his life when his Textron Automotive Lola went airborne following contact with fellow driver Airton Dare three laps from the finish of the season's first superspeedway race. His car took off and was perpendicular to the track with its undertray exposed and nose in the air before touching down on its gearbox and rear wing and returning to earth right-side up. "It was pretty non-violent really," Borkowski remarked after a requisite visit to the CART medical facility. "It was like taking off in a hang glider. I just crossed my arms, got a good look at the sky and waited to land. It was really pretty soft, though it probably didn't look that way." After viewing a replay of the crash, Borkowski joked, "If that doesn't get us in the next Thrills & Spills video, nothing will."

So Close Team Rahal's rookie season in Indy Lights had been short on highlights before Saturday. Michigan marked the team's best effort of the season, with Borkowski qualifying on the front row, leading the race, and running in the shadow of the lead the entire distance before being involved in a late-race crash. "We had the right strategy," said the disappointed Borkowski. "Tony (Renna) was clearly the guy we had to beat. We were right in the right position (2nd), and, on parts of the race track, we were faster. We were just biding our time to see if we could get a run on him on the last lap. It's a shame we didn't get the chance, because I think we had something for him."

Night Owls While most teams were running through their typical pre-race preparations this week, Team Rahal was repairing its wrecked race car in order to have it ready for racing at this weekend's Grand Prix of Trois Rivieres. If there was any good fortune related to the Michigan crash besides driver Mike Borkowski's absence of injury, it was the fact that the tub of the race car was essentially undamaged. "All four corners were damaged in the accident," said Team Manager Bill van de Sandt, "as was the undertray. Those repairs were reasonably made by the end of the day Monday. Tub damage would have been a different story." "I felt awful for the (crew) guys," Borkowski said. "They've worked so hard and stayed with it all season. They gave me a great car last weekend and deserved a good result, not a couple of extra nights' work."

Been There, Won That Mike Borkowski returns to the streets of Trois Rivieres with fond memories in mind. Having twice won on the fabled French-Canadian street circuit in lower formulae (Pro Formula 2000 and Pro Sports 2000), he brings a little history to the track. "It's one of the most fun events on the schedule in my mind," he said. "The atmosphere is electric. The place is always packed. The fans are very knowledgeable and appreciative, and I've done very well here in the past. Now that I think about it, I've got to find a way to race here more often!"

Trans-Am Transplant Mike Borkowski spent last year's Grand Prix within the closed confines of a Ford Mustang Cobra Trans-Am car. It was his first experience in a wider, high-horsepower car on the narrow Trois Rivieres street circuit. "We really struggled getting the power down in those cars," he recalled. "Wheelspin was a big problem and the track is so tight in places, it was pretty tough to pass. I expect there will be a couple of good spots to get a run in these (Indy Lights) cars. Turn one and the hard-braking left-hander on the back straight should be prime spots. Our focus for the set up will be a bit different with the Lights car. Getting it right for the bumps will be the biggest challenge, I think. I expect those sharp corners will look a little wider than they did a year ago, too."

Contact: Scott Reisz 614/529-7000

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Airton Daré , Mike Borkowski