TWO IN THE TOP SIX AT CLEVELAND It wasn't quite the result they were looking for, but Minardi Team USA drivers, Robert Doornbos and "Speedy' Dan Clarke, were nonetheless pleased with the fifth- and sixth-place grid ...
TWO IN THE TOP SIX AT CLEVELAND
It wasn't quite the result they were looking for, but Minardi Team USA drivers, Robert Doornbos and "Speedy' Dan Clarke, were nonetheless pleased with the fifth- and sixth-place grid positions secured in the final qualifying session for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by LaSalle Bank.
The hardworking team made overnight changes to the set-ups of both cars, and Robert and 'Speedy' Dan continued to fine-tune the handling of their chassis during the Saturday morning practice sessions. Once final qualifying began, it soon became clear the Minardi Team USA drivers were capable of producing very competitive lap times. The cars were then fitted with their second sets of Bridgestone red sidewall tires and drivers went for their final runs. Unfortunately, with just three minutes in the session to go, a red flag was thrown after a car spun. The Holmatro Safety Crew worked quickly to clear the track, but with just two minutes remaining once the action resumed, drivers had but one flying lap to try and improve their times. In the event, no one succeeded, and Robert and Dan had good reason to be pleased with their grid positions.
Robert Doornbos: 56.751 secs / 133.594 mph
"It was a tough start to the weekend, but the team has worked hard and we've adjusted the car to the track. I think we'll have a strong race car, as it felt good today during the longer stints. As for qualifying, you have two chances only, and although a second-row grid position was definitely on the cards, there just wasn't a chance to do the lap time on the second set of tires once that red flag came out with about three minutes to go in the session. The good news, though, is that we now have a fresh set of Bridgestone reds in hand for tomorrow."
'Speedy' Dan Clarke: 57.001 secs / 133.008 mph
"We said yesterday that we didn't get a fair crack at the whip, and we were confident of a top-six qualifying performance, and we have been proven correct. We could have been quicker on the second set of Bridgestone soft tires if not for the red flag in the last couple of minutes of the session. Even so, I think we can be pleased that we have a good starting position for the race. We'll now just do what we normally do, and work on tire and fuel strategy. We nearly always have a good race car, so it will be down to how the afternoon plays out."
Paul Stoddart, Team co-owner
"Despite a significant improvement compared with yesterday, it would have been nice to be a little further up the grid this afternoon, but with that red flag falling at a critical point in the session, it was just not meant to be. Having both cars starting from the third row of the grid, however, should put us in a good position for another strong finish in tomorrow's race."
Keith Wiggins, Team co-owner
"We're reasonably happy with today's result, but felt we could have moved up a bit on the second sets of reds if not for the red flag coming out at an inopportune moment. That said, it was the same for everybody, and Robert and Dan both have strong starting positions tomorrow, which will give them the best possible chance for a good race. Equally importantly, the drivers are happy with their cars. It can often be quite an open race here in Cleveland, which could make for an interesting afternoon."