SBRS: Sebring qualifying one notes

Matos takes provisional pole with record time. Rafeal Matos of Belo Horizonte, Brazil took the provisional pole position in qualifying for the first round of the Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER today with a lap of 2:23.696...

Matos takes provisional pole with record time.

Rafeal Matos of Belo Horizonte, Brazil took the provisional pole position in qualifying for the first round of the Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER today with a lap of 2:23.696 seconds around the legendary 3.7-mile circuit at Sebring International Racway, setting a new track record for the category. The final grid positions will be determined in second qualifying, scheduled for Friday morning at 8:55 am in advance of Friday's 3:25 pm race start time.

Matos took the top spot in the closing moments of the 30-mintute session after trading the position with Phillippe Gelinas several times. Gelinas, of Grand Mere, Quebec, ended the session in second, with Ward Imrie of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada taking the third spot. Fourth in the session was Salvador Duran of Mexico City, Mexico, with Michael Valiante protege David Jurca, of Federal Way, Washington slotting into fifth.

With just a few minutes remaining in the session, Gelinas held the top spot with a lap of 2:24.068 seconds, with Matos coming up a scant .005 second short of him. Gelinas and Matos both had one more lap to improve their times, but only Matos was able to improve, digging deep to take a full .3 second off his time while Gelinas found himself behind a gaggle of cars and unable to improve.

"Its good to have beat Gelinas this session, since I think he is going to be difficult competition in the Championship," said Matos. "I just kept trying to keep a clear track ahead of me, and set a fast time. I knew we had been close, but I had no idea how close! The track was pretty fast today with all the rubber that was down from the Prototypes, and that helped a lot in the fast corners, turns one and seventeen, as well as in the hairpin where you are trying to get back to power as quickly as possible. The braking was good as well, as the Michelins made the most of the rubber that was down."

Ward Imrie, who finished fourth in the Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER in 2002, was mired in the middle of the pack for much of the session, but came on strong in the waning moments to set the third fastest time.

"I had some problems with my primary car, so I changed cars for this session, and it went much better," said Imrie. "I got one clean lap near the end of the session, and set my fastest time, and had another fast lap going when I caught back up to traffic. Its good to be this close to the front, but I have some changes I think we can make to the car to put us in an even better position in tomorrows qualifying."

Gerardo Bonilla qualified sixth ahead of Benny Moon, with Brian Frisselle taking eighth. John Angelone was ninth quick on the day, with Dominique Claessens coming up to speed quickly in his first race in the

First Round Qualifying Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER Top Ten:
Raphael Matos/Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Philippe Gelinas/Grand-Mere, Quebec Canada
Ward Imrie/ Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada
Salvador Sanchez Duran/Mexico City, Mexico
David Jurca/Federal Way, WA
Gerardo Bonilla/Orlando, FL
Benny Moon/Shingle Springs, CA
Brian Frisselle/Kihei, HI
John Angelone/ Bridgewater, NJ
Dominique Claessens/Torrance, CA

The Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by Racer Magazine boasts an illustrious list of graduates, from last year's champion, Grant Maimen, who will compete this summer in European Formula Renault as part of the Red Bull American Formula One Driver Search, to Ryan Hunter-Reay, who made his first Champ Car World Series start last month in St. Petersburg, Florida. Other graduates include 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series Champion A.J. Allmendinger who will make his Toyota Atlantic debut next week in Monterrey, Mexico, 2002 FF2000 Champion Bryan Sellars, and 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series competitors Al Unser, Scott Poirier, Leonardo Maia, and Colin Fleming.

-cart/barber-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Ward Imrie , Michael Valiante , Al Unser Sr. , Leonardo Maia , A.J. Allmendinger , Scott Poirier , Colin Fleming , Skip Barber , Salvador Duran , Brian Frisselle , John Angelone , Gerardo Bonilla