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July 29, 2002

No luck for Richardson on streets of Vancouver
By Doyle Potenteau
The Daily Courier - Kelowna

Fortune smiled on Mike Richardson Sunday afternoon then quickly frowned.

Starting 18th on a 19-car grid, Richardson weaved his way up 10 spots to eighth early in the Barber Dodge Pro Series race preceding Sunday's Molson Indy in Vancouver. His streak of luck ended a few laps later, after getting rear-ended, spinning out, then recovering to a 12th-place-finish in the 45-minute timed event.

"I was kinda choked I got rear-ended," said the 34-year-old Richardson, who was bumped from behind by Brazilian Julio Compos. The 20-year-old Campos tried an aggressive move by passing four cars on one corner of the 12-turn Concorde Pacific Place track skirting in and around downtown Vancouver. The rookie managed to pass three cars, but then bashed into Richardson.

The Kelowna resident managed to recover and stay on the lead lap, but lost four spots and was never able to regain them.

"There just wasn't any room for (Campos) to pass," said Richardson, also a rookie in the Barber Dodge series. "I managed to keep the car off the wall, but the back end was hurt somewhat, and that cost us.

"It was still an OK weekend, considering we started in the 18th position. It would have been great to finish eighth or even under 10.

"But . . . I'm still choked."

The Barber Dodge Pro Series is the official entry-level series into CART racing, the level at which Canadians Paul Tracy, Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani compete. All Barber Dodge cars are similar to their open-wheel higher-level Champ brethren, but feature smaller V-6 motors. Also, all cars are equal in horsepower, weight, etc., as the series emphasizes driver skill.

Richardson benefited greatly from that credo. In care of driver error, the Florida-based series keeps a limited number of backup cars on hand. Richardson needed one after smashing his Prestige Inns Resort Dodge into the wall during warm-up. It was the second time he'd tangle with concrete. On Saturday, Richardson tapped the wall during qualifying.

Series mechanics quickly threw Richardson into a spare backup car, which allowed him to race instead of sitting car-less on pit row.

"It was a pretty bad crash," said Richardson, the series' third-oldest driver. "Something came loose in the back-end (coming onto Quebec Street), then I hit something on the track. The car went sideways and the front went into the wall. Then the back went into the other wall pretty good, which made it undriveable.

"The mechanics worked hard for me and got me into a backup car. But the set-up wasn't right for me, as it didn't have the same settings. I'm glad there was a backup, but I would have liked to have my car instead."