SIMMONS RETAINS POLE AS SKIES OPEN UP ON BELLE ISLE DETROIT (Aug. 7) - The rain dance worked and the streak of luck continued for defending Barber Dodge Pro Series race and series champion Jeff Simmons of East Granby, Conn. during final ...
SIMMONS RETAINS POLE AS SKIES OPEN UP ON BELLE ISLE
DETROIT (Aug. 7) - The rain dance worked and the streak of luck continued for defending Barber Dodge Pro Series race and series champion Jeff Simmons of East Granby, Conn. during final qualifying on the 14-turn, 2.35-mile Belle Isle street circuit Saturday afternoon.
Simmons clinched his second consecutive pole when the skies opened up half an hour before the 30-minute session, which forced the 24 competitors to Michelin Pilot SX rain tires and insured Simmons' best lap of 1:33.354 averaging 90.469 mph remained on the top of the combined charts. Todd Snyder of Sheffield, Mass. (1:33.410/90.414 mph) stayed on the outside of the front row while the Netherlands' Sepp Koster (1:33.673/90.160mph) kept his third-place spot on the unchanged grid.
"It's a good position to be in. I was hoping to get a dry session, since yesterday I did not get the maximum out of the car and myself, but I'm still happy to be in the first two rows," said Koster, who started third and finished fourth on the track in 1998. "I hope it will be a dry race tomorrow because it was pretty atrocious on the track today. It was raining hard, there was no wind, and the water just kept flying in between the trees. There was no way you could really see where you were going with other cars around you."
The gray retaining walls and the concrete track surface made the visibility especially poor when combined with the gray skies. The session was the first chance for the drivers to test their own wet weather capabilities and the purpose-built grooved Michelins. "This is the first time this year we've had a wet session. We just went out there to get a feel for it and tried to keep the car off the walls," Snyder said.
Iradj Alexander of Giubiasco, Switzerland, fourth-fastest at 1:33.848/89.992 mph in the dry session, set the fastest time in the wet at 1:56.125. Koster, a veteran of racing in the legendary wet confines of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, said the proximity of the Jersey barrier retaining walls on the temporary circuit was equal to the rain-impaired vision.
"They have a lot of rain over there, and it's very tricky also, but you're in the middle of a field and know that you have a little bit of a margin for error," Koster said. "Here you have a small racing line and the concrete makes it pretty tricky."
Jon Fogarty of Portola Valley, Calif. Starts fifth, with rookie points leader Michael Valiante, Memo Rojas Jr., Peter Boss, Nilton Rossoni and Jamie Menninga filling out the remainder of the top 10.
Simmons, who celebrated his 23rd birthday Thursday, was hoping for one more day of good luck, rain or shine.
"Today I didn't really want to fight with everybody for the pole again. I'm not really sure what I want tomorrow now that I've seen it." Simmons said. "It's pretty hairy out there in the rain, but starting in the front it's to my advantage if it rains. It's going to be really tough for anybody behind the front row to see. The walls are gray, the track is gray and once you get that mist you can't really see anything."
Except, of course, a checkered flag.
DETROIT - Combined Barber Dodge Pro Series qualifying results from Belle Isle Saturday on the 2.35-mile, 14-turn road circuit for Sunday's 40-minute race at the Tenneco Automotive Detroit Grand Prix.
1 (1) Jeff Simmons/East Granby,Conn. 1:33.354/90.469 2 (11) Todd Snyder/Sheffield,Mass. 1:33.410/90.414 3 (7) Sepp Koster/The Netherlands 1:33.673/90.160 4 (31) Iradj Alexander/Giubiasco,Switzerland 1:33.848/89.992 5 (52) Jon Fogarty/Portola Valley,Calif. 1:34.039/89.810 6 (95) Michael Valiante/Vancouver,Canada 1:34.152/89.702 7 (15) Memo Rojas, Jr./Mexico City, Mexico 1:34.233/89.625 8 (6) Peter Boss/Narragansett, R.I. 1:34.418/89.449 9 (36) Nilton Rossoni/Curitiba, Brazil 1:344.505/89.367 10 (2) Jamie Menninga/Pella, Iowa 1:34.572/89.303 11 (25) Townsend Bell/Costa Mesa, Calif. 1:34.755/89.131 12 (9) Rodrigo Bernardes/Sao Paulo, Brazil 1:35.008/88.894 13 (85) Brian Pelke/Lansing, Ill. 1:35.120/88.789 14 (17) Matt Plumb/Unionville, Pa. 1:35.253/88.665 15 (8) Roger Yasukawa/Santa Monica, Calif. 1:35.321/88.602 16 (14) Juan Jose Font/Caracas,Venezuela 1:35.369/88.557 17 (4) Brent Sherman/ Northbrook, Ill. 1:35.729/88.224 18 (3) Kip Gulseth/Manitowac, Wisc. 1:36.325/87.678 19 (13) R. B. Stiewing/Lime Rock, Conn. 1:37.047/87.026 20 (27) Aaron Bambach/Clawson, Mich. 1:37.155/86.929 21 (38) David Francis, Jr./Cypress, Calif. 1:37.448/86.668 22 (77) Scott Mayer/Franklin, Wis. 1:37.486/86.634 23 (16) Alexandre Sperafico/ToledoParana, Brazil 1:38.537/85.710 24 (10) Jeff Morton/Detroit, Mich. 1:41.687/83.055<