Toronto Friday qualifying report

(TORONTO, Ont.) July 13, 2001 -American Matt Plumb once again was the quickest of the 20 drivers who attacked the 1.775-mile temporary Exhibition Place Circuit in Toronto, Ont. for round 7 of the 2001 Barber Dodge Pro Series supporting the CART ...

(TORONTO, Ont.) July 13, 2001 -American Matt Plumb once again was the quickest of the 20 drivers who attacked the 1.775-mile temporary Exhibition Place Circuit in Toronto, Ont. for round 7 of the 2001 Barber Dodge Pro Series supporting the CART FedEx Molson Indy Toronto. His quickest tour in the No. 4 Premier Nutrition Dodge Reynard stopped the clocks in 1:12.284 sec for an average speed of 87.405 mph. Second quickest was fellow American Ryan Hunter-Reay who was two-tenths of a second behind Plumb. Dutchman Sepp Koster was third fastest, another tenth of a second down.

The 30-minute session was red-flagged in the 18th minute when Christian Szymczak impacted the wall heavily coming onto the front straight. He emerged unscathed, but the resulting cleanup would see the checkers thrown under the red flag. In spite of the short session, which included another two minutes of red flag time, the pole change hands on no less than eight occasions. Prior to the first stoppage, Plumb, Hunter-Reay and Nicolas Rondet semi-circulating together would reset the pole consecutively. Roger Yasukawa was the only other driver to momentarily maintain the pole, which he duly did twice. The first was six minutes into the session though it was only to last for one minute before he would surrender it to Hunter-Reay. He would reappear at the top of the list briefly at the 17th minute until Plumb claimed it for good only moments later. In the same few brief moments Koster, who had been mid pack for most of the session and Hunter-Reay leapfrogged into the Top-3.

"As you know I like street courses and we're off to a great start," said the 25-year old Plumb who has captured the provisional pole on numerous occasions but kept it officially only once. Tomorrow he claims will not follow suit, "It's just a matter of pulling back the reins just a little bit on a lap that I feel is going to be a good one and gain some sort of time out of it."

Hunter-Reay returned to good qualifying form after a bit of a struggle in Cleveland. Experience has taught him that the odds of a session stoppage on courses of this nature are high requiring a quick lap straight out of the box to put in the bank. He was the fourth driver to snare the pole six minutes in.

"Tomorrow it's going to be the same plan as today. We need to go fast from the outset because red flags could play a part as well," added Hunter Reay, 20, driver of the No. 31 Barber-CART Scholarship Dodge Reynard.

Contrary to Hunter-Reay, Koster spent the opening minutes of the session concentrating on 'running in' a new set of brake pads. As a result, he was not a factor it turns out until the precise moment needed. Less than two-minutes before the session was halted, he slotted his No. 3 Stora Drain Dodge Reynard into third place.

"Once I got the brakes in order everything was fine, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow and moving up the order," said Koster, 26. "I like the tracks where you can make a difference as a driver as opposed to the tracks where set-up is so crucial and this is definitely one of those tracks where the driver is the difference. I'm definitely going to go for the front row in the final qualifying session."

Fourth and fifth-placed Yasukawa and Rondet respectively were the only two other drivers to break into the 1:12 sec. bracket. Marc Breuers continues to demonstrate his improved form as he is sixth quickest, missing the 1:12 bracket by a slim two-tenths. Akihira Okamoto was seventh quickest while Szymczak ended eighth despite the shunt. Rounding out the fast ten were Alex Sperafico and Davy Cook.

Final Qualifying takes place with another 30-minute session Saturday afternoon at 12:15 p.m.

-Barber

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About this article
Series Barber Pro
Drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay , Davy Cook , Marc Breuers , Alex Sperafico , Matt Plumb , Akihira Okamoto