PKV RACING'S DA MATTA FIFTH, VASSER SEVENTH ON PROVISIONAL GRID FOR WEST EDMONTON MALL GRAND PRIX OF EDMONTON EDMONTON, CANADA -- FRIDAY, JULY 15, 2005 -- Round ...
PKV RACING'S DA MATTA FIFTH, VASSER SEVENTH ON PROVISIONAL GRID FOR WEST EDMONTON MALL GRAND PRIX OF EDMONTON
EDMONTON, CANADA -- FRIDAY, JULY 15, 2005 -- Round #7 -- 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing's Cristiano da Matta is fifth and teammate Jimmy Vasser seventh following today's provisional qualifying for Sunday's inaugural West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix of Edmonton on the temporary street circuit at Finning International Speedway, located at City Center Airport in Edmonton, Canada.
Da Matta piloted the #21 Bell Micro/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine to a fast lap of 59.769 seconds (118.838 mph). The 31-year-Brazilian dominated most of the morning practice session sitting atop the speed charts with a .5 to .8 second lead over the field until the final minutes when Sebastine Bourdais clicked off the fast lap of the session dropping da Matta to second. Da Matta's fast time in morning practice was 60.594 seconds (117.220 mph). During the 15 minute afternoon warm-up prior to qualifying, da Matta turned a fast time of 60.552 seconds (117.3011mph) placing him fourth on the individual practice report and fifth on the combined report.
"After a very good morning practice for the Bell Micro/PKV Racing team, I am a little disappointed with where we ended up after provisional qualifying," da Matta said. "The car did not handle as good this afternoon as it did this morning. I think the track changed some and certainly there was more wind this afternoon," he explained. "We are not that far off, but we have to make some changes to improve the Bell Micro/PKV Racing car. Hopefully, it won't rain tomorrow for final qualifying and we will get another chance to challenge for the pole," da Matta concluded.
Da Matta, who is in his fifth Champ Car season, will be making his 86th career start at the inaugural Grand Prix of Edmonton. The resident of Miami FL, who has been as high as fifth in the championship race following a victory in Portland, currently sits eighth in the standings with 84 points. Da Matta started the season with three top-10 showings in the first four races including the win in Portland, which was the first in PKV Racing's two plus year history. However, in the last two events, at Cleveland and Portland, he has been the victim of incidents involving rookie drivers that have knocked him out of the race.
Da Matta has qualified in the top-10 at all six events this year including twice in the top five (second in Cleveland and fourth in Milwaukee) and has finished in the top-10 in three of the six races. The 2002 Series Champion is one of four former champions and three Brazilians competing in the series.
Vasser qualified the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone entry seventh on the provisional grid with a time of 59.873 seconds (118.631 mph). The 39-year-old Californian was eighth in the morning practice with a quick lap of 61.501 seconds (115.491mph) and eight in the warm-up with a 61.281 seconds (115.905 mph) lap.
"The Gulfstream/PKV Racing team was just trying to get a handle on the track," Vasser said. "We had a pretty good qualifying session, but I don't think we qualified as well as we could, especially Cristiano (teammate Cristiano da Matta)," he conceded. "We certainly are not where we want to be, which is up front," Vasser noted.
Commenting on the first day at Finning International Speedway, Vasser said, "This is a fantastic venue with a great track layout and great fans. The crowd here today was very large, very enthusiastic and very knowledgeable. I just hope the weather holds and we don't get any rain so Champ Car can give the fans here in Edmonton a great show all weekend long."
Vasser, who is competing in his 14th Champ Car season, will be making his 225th career start this weekend which will extend his record of consecutive starts to 204. The resident of Las Vegas, NV is coming off a season high fourth place showing in Toronto and is riding a streak that has seen him finish in the top-six in four consecutive races. He currently stands sixth in the championship race with 105 points.
Vasser has qualified in the top-10 in five consecutive races and five of the six events this year including PKV Racing's first pole, which he scored at Milwaukee. He has finished in the top-10 in five of the six races including four consecutive top-six performances. Vasser has finished 140 of his last 180 races and placed in the top-10 in 128 of his 224 events including 64 top-five showings. The 1996 Series Champion is the only owner/driver, one of four former champions and three Americans competing in the 2005 Champ Car World Series.
After the first six races of the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series season, PKV Racing has already established a number of team records. Da Matta scored the team's first victory in their two plus year history in Portland while Vasser earned the team's first pole in round #3 at Milwaukee. 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 qualified in the top-10 in five consecutive races for the first time in team history. Da Matta and Vasser have finished in the top-10 in the same race 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 five races, which is also a team record.
There will be another practice session tomorrow morning with final qualifying set for 2:00 p.m. The West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix of Edmonton, July 15-17, will be televised live on SPEED Channel beginning at 3:00 p.m. (ET).