The combination of Leighton Reese's Banner Racing Team, Canadian driver Kenny Wilden, and the Banner Engineering Corvette have proven to be a formidable combination at Sebring this week. Wilden has been fast in all of the practice sessions and...
The combination of Leighton Reese's Banner Racing Team, Canadian driver Kenny Wilden, and the Banner Engineering Corvette have proven to be a formidable combination at Sebring this week. Wilden has been fast in all of the practice sessions and has qualified the Minnesota based racing Corvette in forth spot for Friday's opening round of the 2001 Trans-Am Series that will be competing for the BF Goodrich Cup.
Kenny Wilden fortunately got in a hot early lap, on lap 3, in today's fast-five qualification session at Sebring International Raceway that stood to be the 4th fastest time of the session. Fortunate, because Kenny and the Banner Engineering Corvette would never complete lap 4. The driveshaft literally exploded leaving Leighton Reese's race car parked on course.
"The back half of the drive shaft was reduced to schrapnel and shads of metal," Leighton Reese said. "There was little damage to the car as the safety loops did their job and contained the damage. We have no idea why it broke, but at 8000RPMs when anything goes wrong, they (the drive shafts) really come apart." "At least the tires will have a lot of life left in them for the race," continued Reese. "We were lucky Kenny got in a good lap early."
Wilden, who recorded a win last season at Laguna Seca, and set a record for the highest prise money earned for any Trans-Am event set a fast lap of 2:04.361 (107.108MPH) to earn a starting spot on the second row for Friday's feature race.
With potentially more than $2.0 million in total season-long payout, the 2001 season will be the richest in the series illustrious 36-year history. This weekend's race also begins the run for the prestigious BFGoodrich Tires Cup, given annually to the winner of the Drivers' Championship. Beginning this season, the winner of the Drivers' Championship will pocket $100,000 with a total year-end points fund payout of $300,000.
Two surprises of the qualifying were the great run put in by Lou Gigliotti to get his 2000 Corvette into the 3rd qualification spot, and the relatively low 16th spot recorded by defending champion Brian Simo in the Mangusta. Lou has been strong all weekend and Simo got faster in the afternoon session so expect both to be a factor. Boris Said put his Mustang on the pole with Johnny Miller's Jaguar filling out the front row.
The Banner Corvette has been totally revamped for the 2001 season but the team did have significant setup information that allowed the team to make the car competitive right away. Kenny Wilden, while unfamiliar with the team will be making his 8th Trans-Am start and has extensive experience in Formula Atlantic cars.