SBRS: Detroit race one fridayh qualifying

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 ...

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.

-=Barber

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Peter Boss , Marc Breuers , Roger Yasukawa , Sepp Koster , Rhonda Trammell , Alex Sperafico , Matt Plumb , Akihira Okamoto