Savvy gunfighter that he is, 2004 Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais waited for the dust to settle in final qualifying for the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix Presented by Roshfrans before staking his claim to his third consecutive Monterrey...
Savvy gunfighter that he is, 2004 Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais waited for the dust to settle in final qualifying for the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix Presented by Roshfrans before staking his claim to his third consecutive Monterrey pole position this afternoon.
After Marcus Marshall brought out the red flags midway through the session Bourdais took advantage of his opportunity, turned all of eight laps and, on his seventh in the #1 McDonald's Lola/Ford-Cosworth/Bridgestone title- holding racing laid down a lap of 102.875mph (73.627 seconds), exactly eight-tenths ahead of second placed Justin Wilson.
"I have a great feeling about this track and this race," Bourdais exulted. "You [always] know it is going to be hot here but we had strong balance in the car and I was able to put up a string of three good laps that were enough to take the pole."
The lanky Briton, driving the #9 SanDisk Lola used his final and 14th lap to claim the outside front row slow with his lap of 102.075mph (74.204 seconds). "It's a really good feeling to start to see the results of the work we've been doing. My real concern," Wilson said, "is going to be staying hydrated because it's supposed to be even hotter tomorrow." Temperatures hovered at the century mark throughout the day.
2003 champion Paul Tracy recovered from his miserable Friday qualifying session - he was 19th and last after clouting the berms and bending the suspension on his #3 Forsythe Championship Racing Lola - to take third with his lap of 101.915mph (74.321mph).
Tracy believe his team made some good changes to their setup from the morning, "But we still had a little lack of grip mid-corner. We also had some bad luck with traffic, but third is a good place to start. I just have to find a rhythm and avoid mistakes in the race," the Canadian scolded himself.
An excited Alex Tagliani followed up his excellent Friday performance in the #15 Team Australia Lola to earn fourth on the starting grid with his lap of 101.886mph (74.342 seconds). "The car is working well everywhere we go and I am also really getting on well with everybody on the team. Team Australia is only two races old and everything is new," Tag said, "but showing speed like that is a great boost for everyone."
Bruno Junqueira fell to fifth in the late going, taking only nine laps and using his 101.467mph final tour to gain that position. A boost problem on his Cosworth engine cut short the Brazilian's second run "and by the time we got back I only had time for one lap. A fifth place start is less than we were capable of but I'm going to try as hard as I can to move up front."
Mario Dominguez starts sixth in the #7 Forsythe Championship Lola with his lap of 101.239mph, as an off-center steering wheel "made it really hard to control the car over the bumps and kerbs, while Oriol Servia again impressed with the #19 American Medical Response Lola at 101.097mph.
Neither Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Lola), starting eighth with a lap of 100.949mph nor teammate Cristiano da Matta, driving the #21 PKV Racing Lola to ninth at 100.833mph seem to be able to buy a break here in Mexico.
"We need to be quicker but I think we're heading in the right direction," Vasser said. Teammate da Matta believed that, "balance-wise the car is good but we need more total grip."
Rookie Ronnie Bremer's #55 HVM Inc. Lola nabbed the tenth starting position with his lap of 100.646mph, unable to find a clear lap to put in "my best time. I have a good race car, so I am looking forward to all 76 laps and perfect pit stops tomorrow."
A.J. Allmendinger started the session strongly but his quick fourth lap in the #10 Red Bull Lola (of 16) at 100.642mph was the best the Californian could do, placing him 11th. Timo Glock showed few ill effects from his Milwaukee testing shunt, placing the #8 Rocketsports Lola 12th.
Mi-Jack Conquest teammates Nelson Philippe in the #34 car and rookie Andrew Ranger in the #27 hold possession of row seven, respectively. Bjorn Wirdheim took 15th in the #4 HVM Lola, followed by Ricardo Sperafico's Dale Coyne Racing #11 Lola and a struggling Ryan Hunter-Reay in the #31 Rocketsports Lola. Mexican Jorge Goeters in a #52 Team Mexico Lola holds 18th on the grid while luckless Marshall holds the final and 19th grid slot in his #5 Team Australia Lola.
It's been hot and muggy in Monterrey this weekend and we're expecting even more heat for race day. While the 2.104-mile Fundidora Park circuit offers some shade for spectators, there will be no respite for the Champ Car stars until their 76 laps in the sun is done.