Super Touring: Down to the Wire at Laguna Seca
5 September 1997By this time tommorrow we will know the new champion of the North American Super Touring Series. Current points leader David Donohue (273 points) holds a nearly insurmountable lead of 25 points over Peter Cunningham (248 points), as the series turns south to the Monterey Pennisula. With just the two races left in the season, the maximum point total that Cunningham could earn is 46 points. Donohue must finish no lower than 6th place in each race, while Cunningham must win each race, qualify the fastest, and lead at least one lap in order to win. Too many things have to fall into place for this one and only scenario to occur. Neil Crompton (235 Points) made a gallant effort to close on both Donohue and Cunningham in the standings at Vancouver, but his only chance for a shot at the championship is that both drivers do not start either race. Another unlikely scenario. Crompton won both races at Vancouver and one has to wonder if Crompton is not feeling the sting of a one-race ban at Portland this year has cost him the championship. Dominic Dobson was eliminated from the championship hunt and will likely end up fourth in the over-all championship.
The most interesting battle of the weekend will be the Independent's Challenge. Bob Schader (166 points) holds a razor thin 3-point margin over Randy Pobst (163 points). Darren Law follows closely behind with 157 points. Of the three championships to be decided (Driver, Independent, and Manufacturer), only the Independent's Challenge will provide any real drama. David Welch holds down fourth place in the IC standings with 136 points. A slim but mathematical chance is reason enough to show up.
The manufacturer's championship is all but wrapped up by Honda. The car manufacturer' holds a 16 point lead over Dodge. Again, a nearly insurmountable lead but strange finishes are the norm in Super Touring.
Several of the teams arrive in Laguna Seca with banged-up machinery and some bruised drivers from the week's previous race at Vancouver, B.C. The tight and twisty 1.703 miles circuit lived up to it's billing as a temporary street circuit trash compactor. Several incidents occurred in both races which left man and machinery in need of attention. Dominic Dobson was banged up enough to require a visit to the medical center. Fortunately, he was not seriously injured. Darren Law escaped serious injury but his BMW was in several pieces after the incident in the second race of the day. None the less, all of the teams are expected to make the trip to Laguna but the pressures placed on the crews that prepare the cars for this week-end is extraordinary.
David Treffer -- The Auto Channel