CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland: PKV Racing Friday report

DA MATTA TAKES PROVISIONAL POLE FOR CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF CLEVELAND VASSER SIXTH CLEVELAND, OH -- FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2005 -- Round ...

DA MATTA TAKES PROVISIONAL POLE FOR CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF CLEVELAND
VASSER SIXTH

CLEVELAND, OH -- FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2005 -- Round #5 -- 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing's Cristiano da Matta captured the pole, while teammate Jimmy Vasser was sixth in today's provisional qualifying for Sunday's Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by U. S. Bank at Burke Lakefront Airport in Clevleand, Ohio.

Da Matta piloted the #21 Bell Micro/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone entry to a fast lap of 58.436 seconds (129.742 mph) in a qualifying session, which not only put him on the pole, but earned him one championship point and guaranteed him a front row spot for Sunday's race regardless of the outcome of tomorrow's final qualifying. The 31-year-old Brazilian was consistently quick all day. In the morning practice hew second on the speed charts with a quick lap of 59.670 seconds (127.059 mph). During the 10 minute afternoon warm-up da Matta improved his time turning a fast time of 58.887 seconds (128.748 mph), which placed second on both the individual practice and combined reports.

"I am very happy with the performance of the Bell Micro car and the whole PKV Racing team today," da Matta said. "It is not the pole, it is only the provisional pole, but it feels good. It puts us the front row and get us a championship point. It is also our best performance on a Friday so far this season," he noted. "I was a little worried in the morning because the car just didn't feel right, but this afternoon in qualifying it felt very good and the Bridgestone tires, both the standard and the alternate were very consistent," he explained. "Cleveland is a track that you can pass on, but it is still important to qualify near front here because you have a better chance of staying out of trouble in Turn #1 at the start of the race," da Matta concluded.

Da Matta, who is contesting his fifth Champ Car season, will be making his 84th career start and fifth at Burke Lakefront Airport this weekend. In four previous races in Cleveland the resident of Miami, FL has qualified in the top-10 twice including one pole (2002) and finished in the top-10 twice with a best showing of third in 2000.

Da Matta, who spent the last two years competing in Formula 1, has qualified in the top-10 at all four events this year including a season high fourth in Milwaukee. He has finished in the top-10 in three of the four contests including a win, the first for PKV Racing in its two plus year history last weekend in in Portland (10th at Long Beach and sixth in Monterrey, Mexico). Da Matta just barely missed making it four for four when he placed 11th at Milwaukee. The 2002 Series Champion is currently fifth in the championship standings with 73 points. Da Matta is one of four former champions and one of three Brazilians competing at Cleveland.

Vasser, who is behind the wheel of the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine, had a qualifying time of 58.835 seconds (128.862 mph). The 39-year-old Californian was almost as consistent as his teammate, but not quite as quick, throughout the day. He was sixth in the morning practice with a quick lap 60.297 seconds (125.738 mph).and ninth in the warm-up 59.711 seconds (126.972 mph).

"It was an okay qualifying session for the Gulfstream/PKV Racing team," Vasser said. "I just could not get a run at the end of the qualifying session, he noted. "I think the car is better than where we qualified, but most of all I am happy for the Crisitano (da Matta) and the whole PKV Racing team. First and sixth is close to as good as we have been," Vasser said. "Now we just have to get the Gulfstream a little further up the grid in tomorrow's final qualifying," Vasser concluded.

Vasser, who is competing in his 14th Champ Car season, is contesting his 223rd career, record 202nd consecutive and 13th race in Cleveland this weekend. In 13 previous events at Burke Lakefront Airport he has qualified in the top-10 a total of five times including poles in 1996 and 1998. The resident of Las Vegas, NV has finished in the top-10 seven times, including three top-five performances with a best showing of third in 1995. Vasser has finished 138 of his last 178 starts and placed in the top-10 in 126 of his 222 races including 63 top-five showings.

Vasser has qualified in the top-10 in three of the four events this year including taking the pole in Milwaukee. He has also finished in the top-10 in three of the four races with a season best showing of fifth also in Milwaukee (ninth in Long Beach, 14th in Monterrey, Mexico and sixth in Portland). The 1996 Series Champion is currently eighth in the championship race with 63 points. Vasser is the only owner/driver in the series, one of four former champions and three Americans competing in Cleveland.

PKV Racing will be making its fourth and fifth starts while competing in its third race at Burke Lakefront Airport. In three previous starts (two races) the team has qualified in the top-10 once when Vasser started 10th in 2004. They have finished in the top-10 twice as Vasser placed fifth and Roberto Gonzalez seventh also last year.

There will be another practice session tomorrow morning with final qualifying set for 2:00 p.m. The Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by U. S. Bank, June 24-26, at Burke Lakefront Airport be televised live on CBS at 1:30 p.m. (ET).

After the first four races of the the 2005 Bridgestone Presnets The Champ Car World Series season, PKV Racing has already established a number of team records. In addition to the team's first win (by da Matta in Portland) Vasser earned PKV Racing's first pole in round #3 at Milwaukee plus the two drivers have combined to set team records for best combined qualifying, first and fourth at Milwaukee and best combined finish, first and sixth at Portland. They have both also qualified in the top-10 in three consecutive races for the first time in team history. Da Matta and Vasser have finished in the top-10 in the same twice (eighth and 10th at Long Beach and first and sixth at Portland) this year and at least one of them has placed in the top-six in each of the last three races.

-pkv-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Roberto Gonzalez , Cristiano da Matta