Visteon/Patrick Racing's Oriol Servia scores second points paying finish at inaugural Shell Grand Prix Of Denve.r DENVER, COLORADO -- SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2002 -- Round ...
Visteon/Patrick Racing's Oriol Servia scores second points paying finish at inaugural Shell Grand Prix Of Denve.r
DENVER, COLORADO -- SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2002 -- Round #14 of the 2002 FedEx Championship Series - Visteon/Patrick Racing driver Oriol Servia scored the second points paying finish of his brief tenure with the team placing 11th today at the inaugural Shell Grand Prix of Denver on the temporary street circuit in Denver, Colorado.
Servia, behind the wheel of the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing entry with Toyota power and Bridgestone tires, had to overcome a couple of unique situations in today's race. First, he emerged unscathed from a first lap accident involving Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti that knocked Franchitti form the contest. Later the 28-year-old native of Pals, Catalonia, Spain had to battle through a gearbox problem that robbed him of second gear and prevented him from finishing higher in the standings.
Starting 13th on a track where most experts predicted passing would be difficult, Servia drove a patient, but exceedingly competitive race. He passed Alex Tagliani on lap 11 to move into 12th place. Then climbed into 11th place on lap 46 when Kenny Brack pitted out of sequence. After a strong pit stop by the Visteon/Patrick Racing crew on lap 60, Servia took over tenth place by the end of the second round of pit stops on lap 64. He then passed Jimmy Vasser on lap 66 to move into ninth place. Servia got as high as seventh as cars using a different strategy began to pit. Then on lap 73 he suddenly lost second gear. Since all the corners on the Denver circuit are taken in second gear the situation looked very grim. However, after a couple of laps Servia adapted and was able to defend his position. He pitted for the final time on lap 86 and rejoined the competition in 11th place. A yellow flag a couple of laps later allowed at least one, and possibly two, drivers to pit and not lose any position, keeping Servia in 11th place.
"The Visteon/Patrick Racing car was very good in the race," Servia said. "I was able to pass a couple of cars in the race and we were moving forward. The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team was not going to finish on the podium today because of where we started, but I thought we could easily finish inside the top-ten. Then we lost second gear and this is a track that has all second gear corners. I just tried to hang in there and defend my position and after a few laps I got used to using third gear. I was actually surprised at the lap times we were able to do without second gear, but the Toyota engine was pulling very strong through the corners. It shows what a good car we had today," he noted.
Servia, who was competing in his fifth event for Visteon/Patrick Racing and eighth of the 2002 FedEx Championship Series season, has now finished in the points in five of his eight starts this year and in the top-ten three times including a season best sixth place showing in Japan. The resident of Miami, Florida, who is in his third CART season (48 starts), is currently 19th in the championship race with 18 points.
Servia, who ran the first three races of the 2002 season with Pac West Racing before signing with Visteon/Patrick Racing at the end of July, has been competitive in every race this year. Unfortunately, he has been plagued by misfortune that has conspired to keep him from finishing among the leaders. In his debut at Vancouver, he was in ninth place and moving up when a mechanical problem knocked him from the competition placing him 14th. The next week In Mid-Ohio, Servia was looking at a possible top-six finish, but yellow flags foiled a solid pit strategy and he finished tenth. At Road America, Servia qualified ninth and was having an outstanding race, running as high as fifth, when a fuel pressure problem robbed him of a top-five finish and dropped him into 16th place. In Montreal, he was in the top-six on the practice reports in every session. Then in final qualifying an engine let go. Starting 14th, Servia was running in 12th place when a half shaft broke ending his day in 16th place. This weekend it was the loss of second gear and an unlucky yellow flag that kept him out of the top-ten.
"It is weird," Servia said. "The races where we have a big problem only six cars finish and everybody gets big points. Then we have a good car and, of course, everybody finishes. But, the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team is working hard and making progress every week. We just need to qualify closer to the front and I know we can produce some very good results," he concluded.
Next up for Visteon/Patrick Racing is the Rockingham 500, September 12-14, at Rockingham Motor Speedway in Corby, England.