RAPHAEL MATOS LEADS FURIOUS SAN JOSE FINAL QUALIFYING TO SECURE THIRD SERIES POLE POSITION SAN JOSE, California (July 29, 2006) -- Last Sunday, Raphael Matos ( ...
RAPHAEL MATOS LEADS FURIOUS SAN JOSE FINAL QUALIFYING TO SECURE THIRD SERIES POLE POSITION
SAN JOSE, California (July 29, 2006) -- Last Sunday, Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) saw his day end suddenly just a few miles from his first victory in the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. Less than a week later, the Brazilian rookie earned a bit of redemption, enjoying the last laugh in a furious final round of qualifying that saw three drivers post track-record times in the final six minutes while trying to win the pole.
After leading the opening-round of qualifying on Friday and topping the morning practice session Saturday at the 1.448-mile temporary street circuit in San Jose, Graham Rahal (#18 Gehl Company) looked to be on track to win his fourth pole of the season. But several top series competitors had other ideas in the 30-minute qualifying session for Sunday's Canary Foundation Grand Prix of San Jose Presented by Taylor Woodrow Atlantic race (tape-delayed on SPEED at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday, August 5).
While Rahal, the impressive 17-year-old Mi-Jack Conquest Racing rookie who entered the weekend ranked third in the Atlantic standings, was the first driver to top his own track-record time from Friday qualifying, he certainly wasn't the last. Both local racer Jonathan Bomarito (#23 Intervision/NetApp/Juniper Networks/Miracle Sealants) of nearby Monterey, California and Matos each proved that they had the speed to knock Rahal from the pole as the exciting and caution-free qualifying session unfolded.
Bomarito moved to the top of the scoring chart for PR1 Motorsports with six minutes remaining in the session. After Rahal reclaimed the top spot just two minutes later, Matos recorded a blazing lap of 55.495 (93.608 mph) on his 25th orbit on the streets of San Jose to win the pole and establish a new series track record. Matos then had a bit of unexpected excitement on his next lap as the checkered flag brought an end to the edge-of-your-seat qualifying. He went into the runoff area in Turn 6 at the seven-turn circuit, coming to rest at the tire wall without causing any damage to his car.
The result gave Matos his third pole of the season as he tied Rahal for the series lead. It also helped put the memory of last weekend's heartbreak in his rearview mirror as he'll get another chance to earn his first series victory when he starts on point in Sunday's race.
Rahal settled for the second-fastest time of the day with his top lap of 55.532 (93.546 mph). The son of former Champ Car champion Bobby Rahal will start on the front row for the fifth time this season when he lines up next to Matos on Sunday.
Bomarito's quick time of 55.603 (93.427 mph) was also impressive as he earned a third-place starting spot. The effort marked the second-best qualifying result for second-year series racer. Bomarito qualified second at Toronto earlier this year and he turned that into his best-ever series finish of second place on race day.
In just his second Atlantic race, North Hills, California's Colin Fleming (#14 Esoles/King Taco) of Gelles Racing produced a solid fourth-place qualifying result with a fast time of 55.621 (93.396 mph). The former F1 hopeful scored a top-10 finish last week in Edmonton after joining the series from Europe.
Series leader Simon Pagenaud (#15 Team Australia/Location U/Cons. Gen. Vienne) improved on a seventh-place result in the opening-round of qualifying by posting the fifth-fastest time. Clocking a lap of 55.630 (93.381 mph), the French rookie racer will carry an 18-point lead in the championship chase into Round 9 action tomorrow.
Polestar Racing Group's Alan Sciuto (#12 Sealy/PKV Racing/The RoomStore of Phoenix) enjoyed another solid qualifying after a third-place result on Friday. The 18-year-old Orange, California rookie equaled his best qualifying of the season in sixth place with his time of 55.647 (93.353 mph). Andreas Wirth (#37 INDECK/Layer 7/Wirth Solar) of Forsythe Racing, ranked second in the championship behind Pagenaud, qualified outside the top five for just the third time this season. Wirth recorded a fast lap of 55.648 (93.351 mph).
British Mi-Jack Conquest racer Ryan Lewis (#30 Insport Sports Management) was eighth in the order at 55.667 (93.319 mph) while 16-year-old rookie Richard Philippe (#33 INDECK/Layer 7) of Forsythe Racing was ninth at 55.702 (93.261 mph). Condor Motorsports' Danilo Dirani (#1 Canary Fund/Funcional Card/Sala Design/Perkons) completed the top-10 qualifying rundown with his fast lap of 55.769 (93.149 mph).
ATLANTIC QUALIFYING NOTES
* The top 22 cars in Saturday's final round of qualifying were all within one second of each other on the timing sheets.
* All 25 Atlantic cars bettered their times from Friday qualifying in Saturday's session.
* Forsythe Racing's Leonardo Maia (#7 Layer 7/INDECK), who was raised in nearby Oakland, California, qualified 12th at his "home" circuit with a time 55.792 (93.110 mph).
* Video highlights of Sunday's Atlantic race will be included on the Champ Car satellite video uplink feed. Racing action and interviews with the top finishers from the Atlantic Championship will be featured on the feed, scheduled for Sunday, July 30 from 7:30-8 p.m. ET. The satellite coordinates from the uplink are: KU-Band (ANALOG), AMC 6, Transponder: K-11, D/L Frequency:11920 Horizontal and Audio: 6.2 6.8.
Quotes from the top three qualifying drivers follow:
Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) of Sierra Sierra Enterprises: "First of all, I want to thank Sierra Sierra Enterprises crew, the whole team did an amazing job, especially as we made so many changes before qualifying. We tried to work on the race setup especially at the beginning of the session. We made a pretty big change from the first session. Everything seemed to work pretty good with the old tires. It put us a little behind when we put the stickers on two laps behind everybody else. The car takes a long time to come in on this track and it is so slippery, the last two laps were my flyers so I had to make sure that I had no traffic in front of me. Fortunately, I was able to put in a good one on the 25th lap. On my final lap, I had on my dashboard that I was faster by nine tenths, but then I went straight into the runoff. That was pretty frustrating. I believe that we have an amazing car for tomorrow, so I'm looking forward to it."
Graham Rahal (#18 Gehl Company) of Mi-Jack Conquest Racing: "After the drifters, it got pretty greasy out there. We felt pretty comfortable after this morning. We had a towlink come loose in the morning practice, and we were still quickest. The changing conditions were a little shocking, but it's something you need to expect when it's hot like this. We knew from Toronto that things would be slippery. When we put new tires on, I felt like the car got a little worse. We lost a front wing on Lap 2 and that doesn't help, but we toughed it out and here we are. Even on new tires, it's hard to get a clear lap. On my fast lap, I passed one guy and that was all I could do. The competition is fierce, but I feel very confident that on the old tires our car is quickest."
Jonathan Bomarito (#23 Intervision/NetApp/Juniper Net/Miracle Sealants) of PR1 Motorsports: "This afternoon, qualifying after Champ Car, the track was definitely different. It was hotter than it was this morning, that cost us some time down the big straightaway. It was a little bit greasy, the asphalt is starting to soak up the rubber. It was a good qualifying session for us. I have to thank PR1 Motorsports and my engineer John Hayes for putting in me a car that got me up here today. (On finding speed late in the session) About halfway through, I came in and made a quick change and went back out. It was better. When you put the new tires on, you get two or three keys laps when the tires are hot. I was able to jump to P1. My engineer came on the radio and said we were P1 plus two tenths. At that point, I hit traffic and had to back way off. You have to have clear laps your last two laps to put a flyer in or you get bumped. That's when everyone puts in their fastest laps."