SBRS: Detroit Qualifying

(DETROIT, Mich.) June 15, 2001-Dutchman Sepp Koster emerged as the quickest driver in provisional qualifying for round 5 of the 2001 Barber Dodge Pro Series in support of the CART FedEx Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit. Koster lapped the...

(DETROIT, Mich.) June 15, 2001-Dutchman Sepp Koster emerged as the quickest driver in provisional qualifying for round 5 of the 2001 Barber Dodge Pro Series in support of the CART FedEx Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit. Koster lapped the 2.346-mile temporary street circuit on Belle Isle in 1:33.147 sec, averaging 90.670 mph. Second quick and the only other real threat to Koster in the session was the No. 4 Premier Nutrition Dodge Reynard of American Matt Plumb. Akihira Okamoto of Osaka, Japan turned the best qualifying performance of his rookie career, posting the third best time.

Unfortunately the session didn’t end on a high for Koster as a momentary lapse in concentration sent him heavily into the wall at turn-1. He earned a bruised right leg as a result, although his No. 3 Stora-Drain Dodge Reynard stood up well to the hit.

“I saw the lap times coming down after the morning practice in which the track was quite dirty. So I really started to maximize the car and the track coming really, really close to the walls. It was spectacular,” offered Koster. “After putting in the fast lap, I circulated slowly trying to cool my tires. The red flag came out just as I passed the starter’s stand and I just lost concentration for a moment.”

Plumb had been quickest early in the session and continued to improve his time, yet it wasn’t quite enough to top Koster. Both drivers had emerged as the quickest in the morning practice. Plumb, who enjoys driving on temporary street circuits, looks to take the battle yet again to Koster tomorrow.

“Grid position here is fairly important so a front row start would bode well for the race. Our Michelin tires though will really start to come into their own during final qualifying and balance of the car is good so I’m confident of being able to find some more speed,” said Plumb.

Okamoto made a big leap in performance midway through the 30-minute session vaulting to third from the middle of the pack. It was not only his second session ever on the Belle Isle track but also his second session ever on a street circuit, making his accomplishment all the more impressive.

“Because I don’t have a lot of experience on this track, I talked with my race engineer and the Barber Dodge coaches a lot about how to drive this track. Then I just went out and did my best,” offered Okamoto.

Though veterans Koster and Plumb have distanced themselves somewhat from the balance of the field, Okamoto leads a tight group of drivers behind him. Third through tenth places are separated by slim three-tenths of a second. The group is comprised of Alex Sperafico, Roger Yasukawa, Rafael Sperafico (cousin to Alex), Peter Boss, Sara Senske, Marc Breuers and making her first foray into the Top-10 is Rhonda Trammell.

The field of 20 drivers will have another practice session on Saturday morning before final qualifying gets under way at 3:15 p.m. EDT.

<pre> ROUND 5


All drivers in Dodge Reynard racecars on Michelin tires

Pos/Car/Driver/Hometown/Time 1/3/Sepp Koster/The Netherlands/01:33.147 2/4/Matt Plumb/Unionville, Pa./01:33.582 3/27/Akihira Okamoto/Osaka, Japan/01:34.013 4/9/Alexandre Sperafico/Toledo Parana, Brazil/01:34.543 5/8/Roger Yasukawa/Santa Monica, Calif./01:34.573 6/21/Rafael Sperafico/Toledo Parana, Brazil/01:34.621 7/18/Peter Boss/Narragansett, R.I./01:34.670 8/19/Sara Senske/Kennewick, Wash./01:34.685 9/94/Marc Breuers/Philadelphia, Penn./01:34.774 10/26/Rhonda Trammell/Pittsboro, Ind./01:34.858 11/11/Jon Morley/Columbus, Ohio/01:34.933 12/24/Nicolas Rondet/Melle, France/01:35.039 13/17/G. Brusatin/Cali,Colombia/01:35.506 14/34/Christian Szymczak/Oakland, Calif./01:35.738 15/31/Ryan Hunter-Reay/Boca Raton, Fla./01:35.841 16/16/Davy Cook/Tallahassee, Fla./01:35.916 17/33/Jon Vannini Hillsborough, Calif./01:36.639 18/15/Rene Bauer/Sao Paulo, Brazil/01:36.656 19/22/Jay Ricci/Grosse Pointe, Mich./01:37.788 20/14/David Wieringa/Oak Brook Ill. /01:37.927

Track Length: 2.346 Qualifying Record:1:31.901; Jeff Simmons,June 1998

-George Tamayo

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Peter Boss , David Wieringa , Jay Ricci , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Christian Szymczak , Davy Cook , Marc Breuers , Roger Yasukawa , Jon Vannini , Rafael Sperafico , Sepp Koster , Rhonda Trammell , Alex Sperafico , Jeff Simmons , Matt Plumb , Akihira Okamoto , Jon Morley