Double "J" drivers on front row; Jourdain will lead Junqueira to green flag on Sunday. Michel Jourdain Jr. tossed the gauntlet early in final qualifying for the Grand Prix of Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, becoming the first driver under...
Double "J" drivers on front row;
Jourdain will lead Junqueira to green flag on Sunday.
Michel Jourdain Jr. tossed the gauntlet early in final qualifying for the Grand Prix of Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, becoming the first driver under the magic 70-second mark only six minutes into the 40-minute session to determine polesitter for the 87-lap contest around this 2.238- mile natural road course.
Following a red flag to remove the damaged #20 Visteon Lola of Oriol Servia from the Turn 4 tires, Jourdain went back to work, placing the #9 Gigante Lola/Ford/Bridgestone car square on the pole at 69.530 seconds (115.875mph). "Every race Michel gets stronger and more confident," said team owner Bobby Rahal. "It's so hard to pass here you need a good qualifying position," Jourdain added. "We made a big change last night that worked and the car is so strong," the Milwaukee Mile Centennial 250 winner said.
Patrick Carpentier was second again this sunny, mild afternoon in his #32 Team Player's Lola with a lap of 69.575 seconds (115.800mph) yet will start third, as Bruno Junqueira secured the outside pole with his provisional fast lap Friday afternoon. "The car is pretty good," Carpentier noted. "We're still learning about the Lola but we're getting there."
Paul Tracy earned fourth spot next to teammate Carpentier in his #3 Team Player's Lola at 69.671 seconds (115.641mph), third quickest today. The Canadian's team made a change to his Lola that "made it difficult to drive, very 'oversteery'. We need to improve for the race because tire wear should be an issue."
Junqueira was the final driver under 70 seconds in time trials at 69.791 seconds (115.437mph) in the 31 PacifiCare Lola. "My car was very good this morning but on the first set of tires we didn't get a clear lap. On the second set," Junqueira advised, "I got asked for more front wing and the car was very loose. We have two sets of 'sticker' tires for tomorrow and that should help us in the race. My car is good on cold tires."
Row Three of the 19-car grid belongs to two Lola drivers. Rookie Sebastien Bourdais starts fifth in the #2 Lilly Lola with a lap of 70.099 seconds (114.935mph) despite having "no power when we put on our second set of tires." Adrian Fernandez, driver/owner of the #51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Lola starts sixth with a lap of 70.228 seconds (114.723mph) but felt "we were more competitive yesterday." A brake vibration problem made is "really tough to turn the steering wheel the last few laps."
Sunday's Grand Prix of Monterey will be telecast live on CBS Sports at 3:30pm EDT.