Friday was all about practice sessions for the four racing championships that make up this Memorial Day weekend’s Road Racing Classic at Lime Rock Park. At the end of the day, fans were treated to qualifying for the fantastically fast Historic Grand Prix Formula 1 cars.
In the Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge ST class, in first practice Bob Beede and Matt Plumb were quickest in their Honda Civic Si, turning a :59.595. In the second round of practice, at the top of the board was the Mazda MX-5 Miata of Rhett O’Doski and Andrew Carbonell, who put in a best lap of :59.866 to edge the RSR Motorsports Mini Cooper S of Adam Burrows of Canton, Conn., and Trevor Hopwood (:59.873). Also in this session one of the other RSR Minis (the #196) was put into the fence in the Downhill and will probably not make the start of Saturday’s race.
In the KONI GS class, Turner Motorsport BMWs hogged the lime(rock)light: Joey Hand and Chris Gleason popped a :57.527 in their M3, while their teammates, Bill Auberlen and Matt Bell were just a gnat’s eyelash behind at :57.689. Practice two was deja vu: Hand and Gleason quickest (:57.706), Auberlen/Bell P2 at :57.724. Also in the :57s in both sessions were Peter Ludwig and Billy Johnson in a Porsche 997; Hugh Plumb and Jack Roush, Jr., in their Mustang GT; Dean Martin and Ken Wilden in another Mustang; and two Charles – Putman and Espenlaub – in a BMW M3.
The massive 29-car F2000 Championship Series field also practiced twice, with Tom Fatur of New Hampshire setting the best times in both sessions: a :51.555 in P1 and a :51.171 in P2. In the second session, 10 other drivers also got their mounts into the :51s.
The awesome Historic Grand Prix F1 machines practiced in the early afternoon, then qualified to end the day. Quickest in practice was the Alan Jones Williams FW07, driven by Hamish Somerville. His :49.643 beat the :50.195 of the Mario Andretti Lotus 79 piloted by Duncan Dayton, who missed more than half a session after an electrical gremlin popped up on his initial out lap. Third-quick in practice was the Derek Daly March 811; Mike Fitzgerald rode it to a :51.550.
Qualifying was similar – it was the same top three – but both Dayton and Fitzgerald got into the :49s along with Somerville. Following is the grid for Saturday’s race one...
1. Alan Jones’s Williams FW07, Hamish Somerville, Canada, :49.229
2. Mario Andretti’s Lotus 79, Duncan Dayton, North Salem, N.Y., :49.264
3. Derek Daly’s March 811, Mike Fitzgerald, Newtown Square, Pa., :49.330
4. Derek Daly’s Ensign, Bud Moeller, McLean, Va., :51.558
5. Jody Scheckter’s Wolf WR2/4, John Anderson, Sebastopol, Calif., :51.763
6. John Watson’s Penske PC-3, Doug Mockett, St. Croix, U.S.V.I., :52.422
7. James Hunt’s Hesketh, Rick Carlino, Harrisburg, Pa., :53.320
8. Carlos Reuteman’s Brabham BT-37, Divina Galica, Lakeville, Conn., :54.006
9. Vittorio Brambila’s March 761-08, James King, Belleville, Ill., :55.159
10. Ronnie Peterson’s March 761-02, Howard Cherry, Fairfield, Conn., :55.386
On display, not racing:
11. Keke Rosberg’s Williams FW08
12. Didier Pironi’s Tyrrell 009
13. James Hunt’s McLaren M-23
14. J.P. Jarier’s Tyrrell 009
And we want to remind everyone that you don’t need a special Media or VIP Pass for Saturday’s (and Monday’s) KONI Fan Walk – a Lime Rock ticket is all you need.
The KONI Challenge ST Fan Walk is Saturday, 22 May from 2:00 to 2:30pm.
The cars, teams and drivers will all be in pit lane, with the drivers available for conversation and autographs. Noted racing commentator Greg Rickes will be on the PA describing the drivers, cars and teams. This is a truly unique opportunity – it’s the kind of direct access Lime Rock Park is famous for.
One more thing... Lime Rock Park has three scheduled Paddock Tours on Saturday. It is a great opportunity to get close to the cars in their respective compounds. And you’re probably going to meet a driver or two, too.
The Saturday Historic Grand Prix paddock tour (don’t miss this one!) is 10:00 to 10:45am. The F2000 tour is next, from 11:30 to 12:15pm. Then the KONI Challenge tour follows at 12:30, running to 1:15pm.
These fun and quite enlightening tours are headed by Lime Rock personnel as well as team managers, drivers and crew chiefs.
Click here for a full Saturday schedule.