Maia sets track record, snares pole. MONTERREY, Mexico (March 22, 2003)-Leonardo Maia of Oakland, California, set a new track record of 1:33.824 seconds on the 2.104-mile circuit at Fundidora Park in Monterrey, Mexico, to snare the pole position...
Maia sets track record, snares pole.
MONTERREY, Mexico (March 22, 2003)-Leonardo Maia of Oakland, California, set a new track record of 1:33.824 seconds on the 2.104-mile circuit at Fundidora Park in Monterrey, Mexico, to snare the pole position for Saturday's race. Provisional polesitter David Martinez of Monterrey, Mexico, will line up second for the race after setting a time just .051 seconds short of Maia's. Antoine Bessette of St. Bruno, Quebec, will start in third with fellow Canadian Dan Di Leo joining him on the second row. The first eleven qualifiers were within a second of the pole time, demonstrating both the parity and competitive nature of the Barber Dodge Pro Series.
Memo Rojas of Mexico City, Mexico will line up next to Barber-Champ Car Scholarship racer Scott Poirier, ahead of whom Rojas emerged in a race-long battle for third at the opening round race in St. Petersburg. Fellow Barber-Champ Car Scholarship racer Colin Fleming took seventh spot in the final qualifying session, and will start the race alongside of Beaconsfield, Quebec's Chris Green. Telmex-supported Luis Pelayo is the third Mexican in the top ten starting positions, and will start alongside of Josh Beaulieu of Langley, B.C., Canada.
The pole position is Maia's second of the season, and the Brazilian-born championship points leader is looking forward to the 3:45 pm scheduled race start.
"This track is fairly difficult to pass on, since the passing lanes have so little grip here, so I hope to be leading after the first lap," said Maia. "My car is really good, and I know it will be consistent during the race, so its really a matter of getting a clean start, and not making any mistakes."
Friday's provisional polesitter Martinez improved his times throughout the session, besting the track record he set yesterday, but came up just short of Maia's final time.
"I got clear of traffic to set a fast time after the track was at its fastest, so I couldn't quite beat him," said the young Mexican. "I had been saving my tires a little bit during the session for the race, since the lap times weren't coming down that much early on."
When questioned about his expectations for his second-ever Barber Dodge Pro Series start, Martinez is quick to point out the importance of patience.
"My car is really good, and it is a long race this afternoon, so its going to be important just to be mistake free, and have a good run. Its not that important to be in the lead at the start of this race, so I am hoping just to have a clean start to the race.
Antoine Bessette made the most of the closing moments of the session to move himself up into third on the grid.
"I had a car in front of me at the end of the session, and I was just trying to imagine as though it was not there so I wouldn't get slowed down, and it worked for the most part," said Bessette. "The race should be interesting, since there is so little grip off line, so it will be important to be patient, and wait for the other guy to make a mistake to get by."
The forty-minute qualifying session witnessed a slow start, as none of the drivers were able to improve on their times from yesterday until 15 minutes into the session. Maia got to work early, breaking in under the :35 barrier with a lap of 1:34.995 seconds followed up by one of 1:34.625 to move him into second in the combined standings. At the halfway point of the session, Maia was the only driver to have changed positions in the order, but that was soon to change, as the speeds quickly began to drop.
Memo Rojas shot to the top of the order only to have fellow Mexican Martinez take the top spot on the very next lap while Dan Di Leo also got a fast time in. Maia got in on the action as well, setting a time of 1:33.824 to move to the front of the grid and secure the pole.
The Barber Dodge Pro Series is the Official Entry Level Professional Series of Champ Car. The drivers utilize identically prepared single seat open wheel Reynard-Dodge racecars. Barber Dodge Pro Series provides a level playing field where driving talent, not financial resources, play the decisive role. This state-of-the-art platform, with its carbon composite construction, raised nose and 6-speed sequential gearbox, takes full advantage of the 265hp all aluminum Dodge V6 Intrepid motor that is exclusive to this series. Additionally, all of the Barber Dodges compete on identical Michelin Pilot racing slicks.
To ensure absolute equality for all competitors, the Barber Dodge Pro Series owns, maintains, prepares and transports all the cars and equipment. This serves to control costs while allowing the drivers to concentrate solely on developing their driving skills. The Barber Dodge Pro Series rewards those with dedication and skill with true financial incentive - an incredible $55,100 in prize money is available for each Barber Dodge Pro Series event with $13,000 going to the race winner. The overall Series Champion receives a $100,000 scholarship towards entry in the Toyota Atlantic Championship, and the series Rookie of the Year receives $185,000 in career enhancement funding. In total, the Barber Dodge Pro Series pays out over $1 million annually in prize money, contingencies and scholarships.
The second round of the 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series championship will get underway at 4:45 pm EST. Full results and story to be posted on www.barberdodge.com .