NA-F2000: Savannah Morioka qualifying

For more information: Linda Mansfield, lindamansfield@CompuServe.com Morioka Will Start Eighth In FF2000 Race Saturday SAVANNAH, Ga., May 17 - Zak Morioka will start eighth Saturday afternoon in the U.S. Formula Ford 2000 race at...

For more information: Linda Mansfield, lindamansfield@CompuServe.com

Morioka Will Start Eighth In FF2000 Race Saturday

SAVANNAH, Ga., May 17 - Zak Morioka will start eighth Saturday afternoon in the U.S. Formula Ford 2000 race at the Savannah Grand Prize Circuit on Hutchinson Island here. The 37-car starting grid for the race, part of the Dixie Crystals Grand Prix, was determined in two rounds of qualifying Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.

The Team Kool Green cars driven by Jeff Shafer and Matt Sielsky will lead the field down for the green flag. Luciano Zangirolami, Andrea De Lorenzi, Buddy Rice, Duncan Dayton and J. Michael Johnson are the only other drivers who will start in front of Morioka's Kentucky Fried Chicken of Brazil/A.M.E. Sports Van Diemen Quicksilver Ford No. 27.

"We're one session behind," said Morioka, who had to back into the wall coming out of turn four Friday afternoon in the first round of qualifying to avoid a spinning Greg LeMond. He only got two timed laps in that qualifying round due to that accident, and improved from 23rd to eighth from the first round to the second one on Saturday morning.

The Kentucky Fried Chicken/A.M.E. Sports Van Diemen suffered rear wing damage and damage to its gearbox cover in that incident. LeMond's car was extensively damaged, but neither driver was hurt.

No contact was made between the drivers. The former bicycle racing star was directly in front of Morioka when he ran into problems, and Morioka had nowhere to go.

"I didn't hit the wall very hard at all; it is a slow part of the course, and I think I was only going about 50 mph at the point of contact," Morioka said Friday after the accident. "It was just bad luck. We'll try again tomorrow, but it is frustrating because I wanted to get the seat time."

Things definitely improved Saturday morning, and Morioka said the car was handling even better than it had on Friday.

"It hurt us to miss the first round of qualifying, but the engine was running very good Saturday morning in the second round," Morioka said. "By running early in the morning, the conditions were optimal. The track was clean and the air density made the top cars run almost a second faster."

De Lorenzi won the provisional pole Friday in a Tatuus with a time of 1:14.054 (95.476 mph) over Sielsky, Shafer, Zangirolami and David Rutledge. Shafer won the pole for the race with a time of 1:13.056 (96.780 mph).

Morioka likes the track, which is brand new. "Turn one is like an oval. The whole course is very nice. It is much more like a regular road course than a temporary street circuit. It is fun to drive. I don't think it should be a temporary circuit. I wish it was always available, because I'd like to test here. It's too good of a track to be used for public roads.

"Car set-up is everything here," he elaborated. "That's the key to being fast here. I think we're definitely a top 10 car, and if we hadn't lost yesterday we could have been a top five. We still might be a top-five car in this afternoon's race though," he added with a smile. "You never know what's going to happen in a race, which is what makes it so exciting!"

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Duncan Dayton , Buddy Rice , Michael Johnson , Jeff Shafer