Saturday 17 October 1998 Dario Franchitti takes Pole Position from Alex Zanardi Christine Hogan - Motorsport News International Qualifying this afternoon was delayed by 15 minutes for emergency repairs to the track where the asphalt was ...
Saturday 17 October 1998
Dario Franchitti takes Pole Position from Alex Zanardi Christine Hogan - Motorsport News International
Qualifying this afternoon was delayed by 15 minutes for emergency repairs to the track where the asphalt was lifting approaching turn 8. When Group 1 qualifying started at 1 pm, the track temperature was 130F, and the air temperature was 88F.
This qualifying session was the first session of the weekend to run from start to end under green. The early leader was Richie Hearn, with Patrick Carpentier and Bobby Rahal in pursuit. Times fell quickly with Bobby Rahal improving by almost 2 seconds to a 1:33.959 to take the lead ahead of Patrick Carpentier who had improved by a little over a second to 1:34.611, just one thousandth of a second ahead of Andre Ribeiro.
Lehto improved to second place, ahead of Patrick Carpentier with a 1:34.441. Michel Jourdain, Jr. stalled on-course between turns 8 and 9, but he car was pushed to safety and the track stayed green.. Al Unser, Jr. moved up to second place ahead of JJ Lehto with 1:34.260. Arnd Meier lost it at turn 8 and ended up in the run-off while trying to let Alex Zanardi go past. He kept the engine running and continued with no damage to the car.
Richie Hearn made light contact with the wall at turn 2, but continued on unharmed. Al Unser, Jr. and Arnd Meier both returned to the pits after being shown the black flag in rapid succession. Al Unser, Jr. is served an 8-minute penalty for causing the red flag that ended yesterday's qualifying session. Arnd Meier received the black flag for a pit road speed violation.
The session ended with Bobby Rahal fastest with 1:33.068, followed by JJ Lehto with 1:33.669 and Patrick Carpentier with 1:33.819. Eleven out of the thirteen drivers in Group 1 improved their times over yesterday despite the hotter track temperatures. Helio Castro-Neves was unable to participate in his second qualifying session today having damaged both his primary and secondary car in separate incidents this morning.
Group 2 qualifying also started 15 minutes late due to the delay that affected Group 1. Group 2 was made up of the fastest qualifiers from yesterday afternoon, and promised to be interesting. The track temperature was still 130F while the air temperature had risen to 90F.
Dario Franchitti took an early lead in the session with 1:33.959, followed by Greg Moore with 1:34.237 and Gil de Ferran with 1:34.281. In the ensuing laps times fall rapidly as Christian Fittipaldi (1:32.501), Bryan Herta (1:32.588) and Michael Andretti (1:32.613) all improve their times to take the top three positions 10 minutes into the session.
Bryan Herta caused the only red flag of the session when he stalled at the entrance to turn 7. His car was pushed to safety and he received the standard 8-minute penalty. The session was re-started 4 minutes later. No-one managed to improve on their times for a while, and Alex Zanardi had to pull into the pit lane after smoke erupted from the rear of his car. He left oil on the path leading to his pit. All the drivers were pushing hard and several locked up their brakes coming in to turn 8, most notably Tony Kanaan, who almost lost control of the car, but avoided hitting anything.
Six minutes before the end of the session, Dario Franchitti goes faster than Alex Zanardi's provisional pole time from yesterday, and sets the fastest time of the weekend so far, a 1:32.288. This time was his fastest in the session and resulted in pole position. Christian Fittipaldi was in second place with 1:32.501, and Bryan Herta was third with 1:32.588.
Moments before the end of the session, Tony Kanaan brushed the wall at turn 3, but continued without any damage to the car. The session concluded with Dario Franchitti winning pole position from Alex Zanardi, whose time was unchanged from yesterday, and Christian Fittipaldi, who was second fastest in this session. Third fastest in this session was Paul Tracy in the other Team Kool Green car, ending up fourth on the grid with a 1:32.583. There were twelve drivers within 1 second of the pole position time.
In the post-qualifying interview Dario Franchitti said that he flat spotted his first set of tires, but got a great run on his second after the red flag. He said that he made one mistake on that run but was able to hang on. He said that the car has been quick all year and they have been running in front a lot recently. He admitted that the ovals have been his weak spot this year and he is working on improving his performance on ovals for next year.
Alex Zanardi said that they had a problem with the gearbox in his car. He congratulated Dario, and admitted to being disappointed that he didn't have the opportunity to fight for pole today. He said that he is disappointed that he did not get pole, but that he will be fighting for the win tomorrow.
Christian Fittipaldi said that he had a bad day yesterday when he flat spotted all four tires due to a braking problem. That problem was fixed today, but in his second run he came up against some traffic. He admitted that he was lifting as he went past the place where he had his accident last year because he was scared. He said that if it wasn't for that he would have had pole.
There were record crowds again today at Surfers Paradise. The final gate count for the day was 67,659, up 5,440 from last year. There is a chance that the gate totals for all three days may reach the quarter of a million mark tomorrow.
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