SBRS: Detroit race report

(DETROIT, Mich.) June 17, 2001 -American Matt Plumb warded off a forceful charge behind him to claim his second Barber Dodge Pro Series career victory at the Raceway on Belle Isle in support of the CART FedEx Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of ...

SBRS: Detroit race report
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(DETROIT, Mich.) June 17, 2001 -American Matt Plumb warded off a forceful charge behind him to claim his second Barber Dodge Pro Series career victory at the Raceway on Belle Isle in support of the CART FedEx Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit. Plumb led the race wire-to-wire from the pole in his No. 4 Premier Nutrition Dodge Reynard, setting the fastest lap of the race in the process and thereby collecting a maximum of 22 points. As a result Plumb vaults from 11th overall to fifth in the points chase.

Roger Yasukawa and Alex Sperafico continued their podium streak finishing second and third respectively.

The race was a nail-biter the entire way as Plumb never led by more than 1 second until the white flag lap where he led by a meager 1.166 sec. A train of five drivers circulated lap after lap within four seconds. Pursuing Plumb until halfway around the last lap were 20 year-old Ryan Hunter-Reay of Boca Raton, Fla. and Dutchman Sepp Koster, 25. Hunter-Reay was caught in a sandwich for almost the entire race as he clung to Plumb's gearbox while Koster was on his tail. The spectacular battle finally ended as Koster made a text book run on Hunter-Reay out of turn-6 getting alongside through the kink before the braking zone to turn-7. Both came through at near break-neck speed with Hunter-Reay braking as late as possible to defend his position. The maneuver sent him onto a dirty part of the track, and without grip he slid wide into the tire barrier. As close as they were, Koster had no where to go and no time to react when Hunter-Reay's car rebounded off of the tires, nosing himself into the tires as well. A brilliant battle ended there.

"This win means a lot. We've had a great car all weekend, which is so important on this track where you can fall behind in a hurry," relayed Plumb. "At the start I didn't get quite the jump I wanted to, so Ryan was close. But as the race moved on I knew where I was faster and where I was slower. I knew I had them covered out of turn-2 speed wise heading into turn-3, which offers the best passing opportunity. It was interesting because the pressure was on, but I felt very comfortable."

Yasukawa's race began from fifth on the grid and in that position he would stay until he made his pass on the 12th-lap restart into turn-1 around Sperafico. From there, Yasukawa was able to ward off repeated challenges from Sperafico to retake the position. As a result of the Hunter-Reay/Koster incident, Yasukawa secured second place, a battle in which he loomed ominously from behind.

"I was concentrating very hard to get a good restart," said Yasukawa who drives the Tokyo Ueno Dodge Reynard. "I was paying close attention to was Matt was doing and I got a good run on Alex into turn-1. From there I just kept my head down and worked toward a good result."

Sperafico started the race from fourth, and like the other drivers at the head of the field had to multi-task. Concentrating on staying with the battle ahead, Sperafico also had to defend his position from Yasukawa. In the end, a fractionally slower jump on the restart cost him a place.

"At the beginning my car was very good and I could maintain the gap to Sepp, but I didn't get a good restart after the caution period and Roger got by me. At the end of the race, it was bad for Ryan and Sepp but good for us, so I'll take these points for the championship," said Sperafico, driver of the Iveco Fiat Dodge Reynard.

Akihira Okamoto drove another strong race to finish fourth overall. He led Nicolas Rondet who now retakes the points lead as the result of his fifth place finish by four point over Hunter-Reay.

Peter Boss heads the second half of the Top-10 with a sixth place finish after starting from the 13th position. Seventh place went to Marc Breuers. Brazilian Rene Bauer secured his best finish to date in eighth. The drive also netted him the Conseco Step Up Award and $500 in recognition of the fact that he gained the most positions from his starting spot, rising from 19th. Sara Senske and Gian Domenico Brusatin finished ninth and tenth.

Round 5 of the Barber Dodge Pro Series will be televised on ESPN 2 on July 11 at 6:00 p.m. EDT. The next stop will take place in two weeks time at the Cleveland-Burke Lakefront Airport in support of the CART FedEx Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland.

Top-15 in Points after round 5:

Rondet, 65; Hunter-Reay, 61; A. Sperafico, 57; Yasukawa, 57; Plumb, 48; R. Sperafico, 48; Breuers, 40; Okamoto, 38; Koster, 37; Boss, 36; Cook, 32; Morley, 30; Senske, 27; Szymczak, 16; Brusatin, 13; Wieringa, 12


Leonardo Orecchioni
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