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Saanich’s Bill Okell posts career best sixth at Indy in sports car nationals

Late charge after crash halts race leaves Okell a whisker away from fifth at SCCA championships
Bill Okell of Saanich (77, far left) contests the H Production class race Friday (Oct. 1) at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Sports Car Club of America National Championship Runoffs. (Photo courtesy of Mark Webber)

Bill Okell took advantage of a healthy starting position and a mid-race crash that shortened the race to finish sixth in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) National Championship Runoffs at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Driving his sleek black-and-red Huffaker Motorsports 1992 MG Midget for the Friday morning (Oct. 1) H Production class race, the Saanich resident started 11th in the 42-car field and moved up to ninth by the third lap. That was when two drivers contesting second place tangled, a mishap that halted the race for about 20 minutes.

Okell narrowly avoided the flipped-over Honda CRX of one of those drivers as he went past the crash zone, and found himself in seventh on the restart. With the clock ticking on the 40-minute race limit and leaving the remaining drivers just over six minutes and three laps around the 2.592-mile road course to sort out the results, Okell passed the 1984 VW Rabbit of Scott Hileman to move up to sixth.

RELATED STORY: Saanich sports car driver to start 11th in 44-car field at Indy

Continuing to cut the gap Okell caught fifth-place driver Jason LaManna of Rochester, N.Y., also driving an ‘84 Rabbit, on the final lap but barely ran out of time to beat him to the checkered flag. LaManna finished a mere 0.064 seconds ahead of Okell.

Race winner Steve Sargis (Frankfort, Ill.), who had built a large lead before the crash erased it, still wound up eight seconds ahead of second-place finisher Christopher Schaffsma (Wheaton, Ill.) and more than 12 seconds faster than Enrik Benazic (Farmingdale, N.Y.).

While the race was shortened from its expected 19 or 20-lap duration to just six, the result bettered Okell’s previous finish at Indianapolis of 12th place in the GT Light class.

RELATED STORY: Dream to race at Indianapolis one last time close to reality for Saanich driver


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