Given the French ran 1-2-3 in the morning's practice session, you might have expected one to be on provisional pole. And one is, but it is the PKV Racing entry piloted by Tristan Gommendy and not three-time defending series champion Sebastien ...
Given the French ran 1-2-3 in the morning's practice session, you might have expected one to be on provisional pole. And one is, but it is the PKV Racing entry piloted by Tristan Gommendy and not three-time defending series champion Sebastien Bourdais.
The first qualifying session ran under increasing cloud cover with a rain cell approaching, but it never hit the Circuit Mont-Tremblant. There is a greater chance of rain tomorrow, making today's session all the more crucial.
The early minutes saw pole swapped between the Pacific Coast Motorsports pairing of Ryan Dalziel and Alex Figge and Katherine Legge, but as the only drivers on track this was expected. The big guns ran later as these drivers would slip down the order. Oriol Servia was the only other car out but came in after a few laps.
With about 10 minutes elapsed, a parade of cars - if you can call it that when there are less than 20 - headed out from pit lane to lay claim to the top spot. Will Power set the bar rolling with the first time in the 1 minute, 17 second range. Moments later Paul Tracy dipped down to 1:17.6, only for that to be eclipsed moments later by Bourdais at 1:17.5, and then that was bumped by Gommendy's 1:17.1!
After 14 minutes nine drivers were below 1:18 and Power's initial time of 1:17.977 saw him at the bottom of that list. Gommendy led Alex Tagliani, Bourdais, Tracy, Justin Wilson, rookies Simon Pagenaud and Neel Jani and the always interesting Dan Clarke.
Power continued as the trend-setter, the Australian also the first to drop into the 1:16 bracket at a 1:16.841. That time held up for 3rd best in the session. But again, his stay atop the leaderboard was short-lived. As Robert Doornbos, Bourdais and Jani all went into the 1:16 zone Gommendy pulled out his flyer, the eventual pole lap.
With half the session remaining, it didn't appear that lap could hold especially as most drivers still had half their laps left in the tank. Bourdais came close to eclipsing Gommendy on several occasions but lost time in the final few corners.
The result ensures the PKV rookie a front-row starting position for the first time in his career. He has led a pair of races this year on pit strategy, both times gambling and coming up short on fuel mileage, but now has his best shot of leading from the get-go. If nothing else he'll try to avenge his accidents of late, in testing at Road America and last weekend in Cleveland.
The French still posted a 1-2, with Power 3rd, Wilson 4th and Doornbos in 5th. The rest of the top ten was completed by Jani, Pagenaud, Tagliani, Graham Rahal and Clarke. Forsythe Championship Racing had a clunker of a day, Cleveland winner Tracy in 11th with Servia 14th. The PCM drivers of Dalziel and Figge were 13th and 15th while Dale Coyne's duo of Bruno Junqueira and Legge bringing up the rear. Junqueira finished eight-tenths up on his teammate.