ORIOL SERVIA CLAIMS SECOND PLACE AT TROIS-RIVIERES TROIS-RIVIERES, Que., Canada (Aug. 3, 1998) - - Oriol Servia approached round 11 of the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship at Trois-Rivieres, Que., as he has in 10 previous...
ORIOL SERVIA CLAIMS SECOND PLACE AT TROIS-RIVIERES
TROIS-RIVIERES, Que., Canada (Aug. 3, 1998) - - Oriol Servia approached round 11 of the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship at Trois-Rivieres, Que., as he has in 10 previous Indy Lights races - confident, prepared, and hopeful despite not reaching the podium. That changed at the Player's Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres, Sunday, Aug. 2, where he scored an Indy Lights career best finish of second place.
Servia, who started on the outside pole, ran an error free race around the 1.521-mile, 10-turn temporary street circuit in the No. 32 Catalonia/Elf/RACC/Heritage Bank Lola and scooted across the finish line 1.31-seconds behind race winner Cristiano da Matta. His previous best was fourth place in the season opener at Homestead Motorsports Complex (Fla.). Trois-Rivieres is his second consecutive top-five finish including fifth place in round 10 at Michigan Speedway.
"I'm happy and proud of my team," said the 24 year-old Spaniard from Pals, Catalonia. "The team has proven that the car can run fast and long. This is my third time to start from the outside pole but something always seemed to hurt my chances for a podium finish in the other races. Maybe I wasn't as ready as I thought.
"Parker Johnstone (team driving coach) made a big difference for me. He's always available and studying my car's data. After spending countless hours analyzing data, his own experience and his ability to teach me how to use the data to my advantage was the difference. He enhanced my chances to finish well. This is just what the team needed to believe it can make a good stretch run."
The day didn't fair as well for Dorricott Racing teammate Philipp Peter. Despite a solid starting position of sixth place, a variety of mishaps damaged his chances for running up front in the No. 31 Sebring/Red Bull/ESTEBE Lola. His troubles began early in the race when he and Guy Smith contacted each other on lap four of the 50-lap sprint.
"I overtook Smith on the start through turn three," recounted Peter. "He had more speed than I on the back straight and re-passed me on the outside. Then he braked and turned in front of me and hit my front nose with his rear wheel. The nose flew off so I had to return to pit lane. That move dropped me from sixth place to 19th.
Peter patiently moved back through the pack and had advanced as high as 12th when misfortune struck again.
"I had been trailing Andy Boss for quite a few laps and we were both running quite slow in comparison," said Peter. "My engine power started to drop after the fifth or sixth lap, and my oil temperature rose to above 125 degrees. That prevented me from getting the speed I needed to overtake him on the straights. Boss missed a gear coming out of turn seven sometime around lap 26 or so. I had better momentum than he so I tried to outbrake him but he closed the door. I don't think I went hard enough at attempting to pass. I doubt if he saw me at that point but I realized we were very close. I applied more brake but it was too late and my nose hit his rear tires.
"That accounted for the second time I had to pit for a nose change. The problem really started at my not being able to pass him in the easier passing turns. We had a lot of problems with the set-up this weekend so my ability to maneuver was not very good."
Peter's troubles continued in pit lane when CART series officials issued a black flag against Peter.
"CART officials said I was sideways in the pits. They hit me with a black flag," said Peter. "I wasn't speeding. I was only going about 25 or 30 miles in the pits and not exactly drifting. They make the calls as they see them but it didn't change my position anyway."
By virtue of Servia's and Peter's second and 11th place finishes, respectively, Dorricott Racing's driving duo are tied for seventh place in the Indy Lights driver standings with 57 points. Smith leads in the Indy Lights Rookie-of-the-Year points battle with 102 followed by Derek Higgins with 58 points. Servia and Peter are tied for third in the rookie standings.
Round 12 of the 14-race PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship will be at the Molson Indy Vancouver, Sunday, Sept. 6.