DA MATTA DOMINATES CLEVELAND PROVISIONAL QUALIFYING Leads nine-car Lola freight train to top of speed charts Cristiano da Matta seems unstoppable in CART Champ Car competition, as he added another point to his tally with provisional pole...
DA MATTA DOMINATES CLEVELAND PROVISIONAL QUALIFYING
Leads nine-car Lola freight train to top of speed charts
Cristiano da Matta seems unstoppable in CART Champ Car competition, as he added another point to his tally with provisional pole position for Sunday's 21st Marconi Grand prix of Cleveland at Burke Lakefront Airport. Taking a lap of the 2.106-mile, 10-turn airport circuit of 57.641 seconds (131.531mph) in his #6 Havoline Lola/Toyota, da Matta bested his good friend Tony Kanaan by .451 seconds, as Kanaan earned second place in the #10 Pioneer/WorldCom Lola/Honda (58.092 seconds/130.510mph). Scott Dixon scored the third best lap of the afternoon in the #44 Team Target Lola/Toyota, at 58.094 seconds (130.506mph).
"This is a track where you can pass. I really like this track," da Matta declared. "It's fast, it's wide and I've always had good cars here. That helps," he grinned. For Kanaan, each session has "been like a test. We've been struggling, but we got it together today. I'm still not totally happy with the car, but being second is okay. This [result] is good for our team. We really need that and we'll keep working together to make our car better." The quiet Dixon found his Lola/Toyota "pretty good in the morning. It was quite consistent all day. We wanted a bit more front grip for qualifying and, while we found a bit of traffic on the last lap, I'm pretty happy with this result."
Fourth place went to Michael Andretti's #39 Team Motorola Lola/Honda. He was "really happy with the car today. We made some big changes that really seem to suit my driving style. I think we're getting closer," he said after a quick lap of 58.111 seconds (130.468mph) on his 14th of 15 allocated tours of the Burke Lakefront circuit.
Christian Fittipaldi, who runs well here, was fifth in the #11 Lilly Lola/Toyota, with a 58.211sec/130.243mph lap.
"It's nice to be fast off the trailer for the first time in several races and the chassis feels really good," said Jimmy Vasser, after setting the sixth- quickest lap in his #8 Shell Lola/Ford (58.477sec/129.651mph).
Recovering from a morning oil leak and electrical fire that forced him to use the spare #27 Team KOOL Green Lola/Honda, Dario Franchitti was 7th for the day. Bruno Junqueira was 8th in the #4 Target Lola/Toyota after making changes from the morning session that didn't quite work. Paul Tracy took 9th slot in the #26 Team KOOL Green Lola/Honda, battling traffic on his hot laps. All nine ran within one second of da Matta.
Sunday's 115-lap Marconi Grand Prix should be held under similar beautiful conditions to today, which saw breezy air temps of 81-83 and track temperatures between 106-108. The race will be shown live on CBS Sports at 1:30pm EDT.