30 May 2003: Fifty-one of the expected fifty-five competitors taking to the track during today's qualifying for the 5th Annual Kumho Tires 12 Hours at the Point. With mild temperatures, little wind and sun - a marked contrast to the past 30 days...
30 May 2003: Fifty-one of the expected fifty-five competitors taking to the track during today's qualifying for the 5th Annual Kumho Tires 12 Hours at the Point. With mild temperatures, little wind and sun - a marked contrast to the past 30 days and the weather forecasted for race day - conditions were perfect for qualifying. As expected, the OG Racing/Performance Engineering Porsche, last year's winner, set the fastest time of the day. The Roltech Industries Mustang of John Gotwald was a surprise and will be sitting next to the Porsche on the first road.
Third fastest qualifier was the York Automotive/Mt. Airy Collision ITS BMW of Ed York. York's team edged out the second fastest ITS, the Legg Mason Funds BMW of William Sarran, by less than one-tenth of a second. The two ITS pace setters qualified more than one second quicker than Motorsport Auto Datsun of John Legg. Legg is seventh on the grid. In all likelihood, the ITS race is going to come down to whether York or Sarran have the greater reliability.
The third row consists of the S & S Motorsports ITE Firebird of Timothy Swain and the Trane/American Standard ITA Honda CRX of Robert Roth. Swain's team was handicapped during qualifying by an overheating problem. Roth's team., outpaced the next fastest ITA qualifier by nearly four seconds. Unless reliability becomes a factor, the Trane/American Standard Honda is going to repeat as ITA winner and likely will be a top 5 finisher as well.
Qualifying results for the Spec Miata class are still clouded by a minor controversy that arose during post-qualifying impound. Several ProSpec Miata teams are competing in the Kumho Tires 12 Hours at the Point and it appears that these teams qualified and intend to race on the spec-tire used by ProSpec Miata. Unfortunately, this tire is not the spec-tire specified under ClubSpec Miata and event rules. After discussing the matter with drivers in the class, longtime 12 Hour Chief Steward Terry Hanushek determined that SpecMiata would be split into two classes - ProSpec Miata and Spec Miata. According to Hanushek, "It was the best solution to a difficult situation."
The fastest Spec Miata of any species was the Team Driven Performance Miata of Frank Nolfi and Shawn Dewey. Nolfi and Dewey were only one-hundred of a second faster than the next Spec Miata - the Panoz Racing School Miata of Rod Riley. Seven-tenths back was the Ed's Pallet World Miata of Dan McKeever. The next four Miatas were within six-tenths of the Panoz Racing School Team.
The Spec Miata race is going to be the race to watch on race day. According to one event steward, "These guys are treating this as a 12-hour sprint race, not an enduro." This should come as no surprise to those who watched last year's day-long battle in the class.
With on-again, off-again rain predicted for most of race day, the decision to switch between rain and dry tires is going to be a difficult choice for the teams and victory may hinge upon making the correct decision.
The Kumho Tires 12 Hours at the Point is a spectator event that takes place rain or shine. For spectator information, go to www.12hoursatthepoint.org