CHAMPCAR/CART: Bourdais: First oval equal first oval pole at Lausitz

CHAMPCAR/CART: Bourdais: First oval equal first oval pole at Lausitz

Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais strutted his talent today, not on a road course, but on his first CART Champ Car oval by taking the pole for tomorrow's German 500 race. Bourdais set a new track record on his way of scoring one point toward the ...

Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais strutted his talent today, not on a road course, but on his first CART Champ Car oval by taking the pole for tomorrow's German 500 race. Bourdais set a new track record on his way of scoring one point toward the championship, this is the rookie driver's third pole of the season and fourth front row starting spot.

S?bastien Bourdais.
Photo by CART/LAT Photographic.
"It was a big surprise, especially in qualifying," commented polesitter Bourdais. "We were so quick in Brands so we thought we didn't trim enough of the car because you all know that we had to keep the same configuration for this event about the choices on the downforce you know. We set the best lap times this morning and we knew that it was possible to do it for qualifying."

The drivers of the Newman/Haas team dominated the qualifying, like they dominated this mornings practice session. Rookie Bourdais time was 37.000 seconds for a speed of 196.832 mph. His teammate, Bruno Junqueira was close to just tow-tenths of a second slower with a speed of 195.716 mph.

Junqueira stated, "My run was OK, the car was pretty neutral, pretty good. I ran the short line all the way around and tried to get a good time. It's frustrating, although I am second and that's not a bad position but I am two-tenths off the pole that's a lot of difference for an oval."

Lausitz EuroSpeedway is the second stop of the Champ Car European swing, the first being Brands Hatch last weekend in which Bourdais won his first Champ Car event.

This weekend marks the return of the CART series after Kenny Brack won the inaugural German 500 in 2001. The superspeedway is a 2.023 mile oval and marks the first of three ovals the Champ Cars will run this year, Milwaukee will run the first night race on May 31st.

Team Rahal's Michel Jourdain was third fastest at 195.386 mph, followed by the surprise qualifying run of Mario Haberfeld. The rookie driver for Eric Bachelart and Mike Lanigan's Mi-Jack Conquest Racing team's return to Champ Car racing will start in the fourth spot. Haberfeld's hit a speed of 194.769 mph.

"I am happy although it is such a long race tomorrow that qualifying doesn't matter so much, but it is better to be in the front than in the back," Jourdain commented. "We knew we had a good car even this morning and I know that Team Rahal always has a great car on superspeedways so I went out and just got a feel for the car early and within a few laps we were flat out."

Haberfeld had a frustrating day and was quite pleased with his second row starting position, "We had a very good result after a difficult day. I have to credit my engineer, Andy Borme, for very good between the sessions. He made a lot of changes for qualifying and it worked out well. And my guys did a great job getting the car ready for the qualifying run. So we are pretty satisfied, overall, to start fourth."

Points leader Paul Tracy had a dismal two-lap qualifying run and will start back in 16th, his teammate Patrick Carpentier starts 17th for Team Player's.

"This is not very good obviously." said the points leader Tracy. "The car has too much drag. I was running flat out all the way around. I did not even have to steer. I did not think it would be this critical. We went to Brands Hatch with too much downforce and since we could take only one aerodynamic configuration package for this European trip, it turns out that it's hurting us both ways since we had to retire from the race at Brands."

The best Reynard chassis team was Walker Racing, rookie Darren Manning qualified in the fifth slot at 194.042

Darren Manning.
Photo by CART/LAT Photographic.
"With such little testing time it's difficult to make the car one hundred percent," Manning said. "We've got some good things we can try in the morning session tomorrow. It's great to be in the top-five though. The RAC-Walker Racing Crew has been improving with each race, so we'll see how we go tomorrow."

Alex Tagliani, Rocketsports Racing, ended up in the ninth spot after earlier finishing fourth in the practice session was disappointed as he commented, "We qualified ninth this afternoon and that's a little disappointing because we expected to do a little better that that. The Eurospeedway is awesome and I'm running flat all the way on the track. The car is smooth, but we're looking for more speed."

Mexican rookie driver Rodolfo Lavin was very pleased with his first top-ten qualifying spot in the Champ Car series, especially on an oval. "It's fantastic that we're going to start the Corona car in the top-ten for tomorrow's race. The Walker Racing crew has been working very hard to get the car right for this race and hopefully we can take this qualifying effort and post a similar finish.

"I'm very happy to be making my first Champ Car oval start here in Germany; It's a great facility. The fan turnout over the last couple of days has been impressive and I'm sure we'll give them a good race tomorrow"

Jourdain's car fails tech inspection

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Mario Haberfeld , Darren Manning , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Kenny Brack , Sébastien Bourdais , Rodolfo Lavin , Michel Jourdain
Teams Conquest Racing