Oriol Servia scores first points with Visteon/Patrick Racing at CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio. LEXINGTON, OHIO -- SUNDAY, AUGUST 11, 2002 -- Round ...
Oriol Servia scores first points with Visteon/Patrick Racing at CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio.
LEXINGTON, OHIO -- SUNDAY, AUGUST 11, 2002 -- Round #11 of the 2002 FedEx Championship Series - Oriol Servia scored his first points and earned his first top-ten finish with Visteon/Patrick Racing today at the CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
Servia, who was competing in just his second event with the team after signing to drive less than three weeks ago, finished in tenth place picking up three points for his effort. He debuted with Visteon/Patrick Racing in Vancouver two weeks ago finishing in 14th place after a gearbox problem knocked him from the race while running in ninth place.
The 28-year-old native of Pals, Catalonia, Spain started today's race 12th, but dropped to 14th on the opening lap when he got caught out trying to pass Tora Takagi. Running in 14th the Visteon/Patrick Racing braintrust of Mr. "Pat" Patrick and General Manager Jim McGee decided to pit out of sequence as soon as the fuel window opened on lap 14. The strategy paid big dividends almost immediately as Servia was able to gain substantial track position by running very fast times on open track. As the first round of pit stops concluded, on lap 26, Servia was sitting solidly in tenth place and possessed the fastest lap of the race.
The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team pitted for the second time on lap 40 dropping back to 14th place. When a yellow flag came out on lap 46 the rest of the field took the opportunity to make their second stop instead of waiting until the end of the fuel window on lap 52. Fortunately, the fact that the other competitors pitted on a yellow did not hurt Servia as much as it could have and he, once again, moved into tenth place. At this point the endgame for the strategy and the race came clearly into focus. Visteon/Patrick Racing was going to pit the final time for fuel on lap 66 of the 92-lap contest, while the cars ahead of them could either pit on the same lap, and put in a little less fuel, or wait to the end of the fuel window on lap 73 in hopes of catching a yellow. If things went according to plan, and the field stayed out to the maximum 73 laps, Servia, hopefully, would be able to pick up enough track position to advance six or seven places during the field's final stop.
On lap 66, Visteon/Patrick Racing pitted, took on their fuel and rejoined the competition in 14th place. Unfortunately, two laps later the worst possible scenario occurred when Cristiano da Matta spun bringing out a yellow. With only two laps to pick up track position and the field now pitting on a yellow instead of a green flag when Servia could run at full throttle, Visteon/Patrick Racing only moved up three spots to 11th place. When Tony Kanaan fell out on lap 78, Sevia moved into tenth place where he finished. Had the yellow not come when it did, a seventh or eighth place finish was definitely in the cards.
"Obviously, tenth place is not the position we were dreaming about, but it's the first top-ten finish, and the first points I've scored for the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team and Mr. Patrick," Servia began. "I definitely wanted to finish higher, but with races like this qualifying really determines where you will finish because it is so difficult to pass on this track. We need to improve our qualifying position and then from there we will have a better chance to finish on the podium," he noted. "Overall, we had a good race. I think we finished as high as we possibly could when you consider where we started. We tried to play the strategy game and it worked for a while. I ran some very fast laps and picked up a lot of track position, but in the end that last yellow flag hurt us a bit," Servia explained. "I think we have learned a lot the last few races and have improved the car so we look good for both qualifying and racing in the upcoming event," he concluded.
The resident of Miami, Florida, who ran the first three races of the 2002 FedEx Championship Series season for PacWest before the team ceased operations, has now finished in the points in four of his five starts this year and in the top-ten three times with a best showing of sixth at Motegi, Japan. He is currently in 19th place in the championship standings with 16 points. Servia also extended his streak of top-ten finishes at Mid-Ohio to three with today's performance (2000 - tenth; 2001 - ninth; 2002 - tenth).
In 27 starts at Mid-Ohio Patrick Racing has now qualified in the top-ten 13 times and in the top-five four times. They have finished in the top-ten 17 times, with nine top-five showings including two wins (Emerson Fittipaldi - 1988 and Adrian Fernandez -1998).
Next up for Visteon/Patrick Racing is the Grand Prix at Road America featuring the Motorola 220, August 16-18 in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The Grand Prix at Road America will be televised on Sunday, August 18 at 3:00 PM (ET) on Speed Channel.