Tracy makes it a habit. Earns fourth straight Champ Car front row start. Paul Tracy has always considered himself a slow starter and a poor qualifier, but in his 13th year of Champ Car competition, the Canadian veteran is proving himself wrong.
Tracy makes it a habit.
Earns fourth straight Champ Car front row start.
Paul Tracy has always considered himself a slow starter and a poor qualifier, but in his 13th year of Champ Car competition, the Canadian veteran is proving himself wrong. The final driver to qualify in single car time trials for Monday's London Champ Car Trophy on the 1.192-mile Indy Brands Hatch road circuit in the English countryside, Tracy earned a single point for his lap of 37.006 seconds (115.960mph) in the #3 Team Player's Lola/Ford-Cosworth, a new track record. Bruno Junqueira drove the #1 PacifiCare Lola/Ford to second on the grid, just .016-seconds behind the leader at 37.022 seconds (115.909mph). Rookie Sebastien Bourdais earned third on the provisional grid with a lap of 37.112 seconds (115.628mph) in the #2 Lilly Lola/Ford. Nine of the top ten drivers rode with Lola as their choice of chassis; the top 11 qualified within a second.
"We struggled in the morning, but the track has been consistent," Tracy noted. "It's been a long time since I've been here (driving Formula Ford 2000 in 1986), but once you get going, it all comes back." CART mandated a four-lap single car qualifying laps for competitors on this short circuit so that all drivers could achieve best results unimpeded by traffic. Junqueira, second in points and 27 behind Tracy, pushed "as hard as I could. It was a clean lap but I stayed on the safe side today. I like this qualifying; everyone has their best shot." Bourdais, who has been quick in all three races held to date "tried to be in a good place. I made a small mistake on my last lap though. It's difficult to know how the car will be for the race but we are in good position for tomorrow's final qualifying."
The weather played a large part in today's results, as cloud cover lowered air temperatures to 60 degrees. Track temps were a very low 64 degrees, making it difficult for drivers to gain optimum tire temperatures. Oriol Servia, fourth today in the #20 Visteon Lola/Ford at 37.254 seconds (115.188mph) likes "the quick, challenging corners" at Brands Hatch. "I can't use the curbs for speed here and I don't think we'll be able to get close to cars in front during the race. We've set up our Lola for the quick corners."
Local hero Darren Manning ruined Lola's sweep of the top ten, but was challenged by Patrick Carpentier's 6th place in the #32 Team Player's Lola/Ford at 37.580 seconds (114.188mph), Alex Tagliani's 7th place in his #33 Johnson Controls Lola/Ford at 37.790 seconds (113.554mph), Adrian Fernandez' 8th place in the #51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Lola/Ford at 37.871 seconds (113.311mph). Both Tagliani and Fernandez went to their spare Lolas after incurring damage in practice to their primary cars. The Lola/Fords of Mexicans Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante) and Mario Dominguez (#55 Herdez) rounded out the top ten.
Final single car qualifying takes place Sunday afternoon at 1:45pm. Teams will watch the volatile weather conditions as they prepare to set the grid. Rain has been forecast.