CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach: Patrick Racing race report

Fuel meter malfunction robs Visteon/Patrick Racing of top-four finish at Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA -- SUNDAY, APRIL 13, 2003 -- Round ...

Fuel meter malfunction robs Visteon/Patrick Racing of top-four finish at Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA -- SUNDAY, APRIL 13, 2003 -- Round #3 - 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season - A fuel meter malfunction on their last pit stop robbed the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team and driver Oriol Servia of a top-four finish today at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on the temporary street circuit in Long Beach, California.

Servia was in fourth place when his #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing car ran out of fuel on lap 87 three laps shy of the full distance. As a result he dropped to 12th place picking up one point for what had been a brilliantly driven and strategically perfect race.

The 28-year-old native of Catalonia, Spain started eighth, but passed Adrian Fernandez on the opening lap to move into seventh place. He claimed the sixth position just prior to his first pit stop when Alex Tagliani was forced to pit early because of a fuel pickup problem. Servia came in for his first stop on the CART mandated 28th lap and rejoined the race in eighth place. Five laps later the second yellow flag of the day was flown and one lap after that the fuel window opened. Taking advantage of the situation several teams, including Visteon/Patrick Racing, chose to make their second pit stop on lap 34. Following his second stop Servia found himself in 12th place, but after a series of crashes and pit stops was suddenly in fifth position with only one more pit stop needed to finish the race. The car in fourth place, Patrick Carpentier was in the same situation, while the top-three drivers where all going to have to pit two more times. Servia made short work of Capentier passing him for fourth place on lap 42. When the top-three cars pitted for their second stop, between laps 54 and 56, Servia found himself leading a race for the first time this year. The feeling was short lived however, because on lap 62, Servia made his fateful final stop. The Visteon/Patrick Racing crew did an outstanding job refueling the car and changing tires getting Servia out well ahead of Carpentier, who was running in fourth place. He reentered the competition in ninth place, but was quickly up to fifth. Meanwhile the team began checking the data from the fuel meter and immediately realized that something was amiss. After an examination of the equipment it was determined that the meter had malfunctioned leaving Servia short on fuel. Pitting at that point would have been pointless so the team gambled and left Servia on the track. In the end the gamble paid-off as he was able to salvage one point by finishing 12th.

"I am very disappointed," Sevia began. "The Visteon/Patrick Racing car wasn't the fastest car out there, but we were having a really good race. Then on my last pit stop, apparently we had a malfunction in the fuel meter and didn't get all the fuel we needed into the car," he said. "Mainly I am disappointed because.sometimes you have a feeling.not about the result, but about yourself. Today, I was on the grid talking to the Visteon people and I told them I felt great. Usually I don't say things like that, but I really felt I was going to have a good performance today. And I did. I passed one car at the start and then Patrick Carpentier after that.I was pushing very hard, not making any mistakes, trying very hard.it was a long race and to have it end the way it did was just a shame," Servia explained. "The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team will bounce back. This is a very good team. The first two races we had great cars, but had some bad luck. This weekend we proved that we could race competitively without the best car. The Visteon/Patrick Racing crew has done a great job. We are all working very hard and when you do that, eventually good things happen," he concluded.

Servia was making his fourth start at Long Beach, 13th for Visteon/Patrick Racing and the 56th of his four-year Champ Car career. He has now finished in the points in three of four races at Long Beach and in six of his 13 starts for Visteon/Patrick Racing (including four top-10 finishes and two top-five performances). In 56 Champ Car starts, Servia has earned 23 top- ten finishes including six top-five showings and one podium, a career best third place performance at the 2000 Detroit Grand Prix.

The eighth place starting position is Servia's best in four attempts at Long Beach. It also extended his streak of consecutive top-10 qualifying positions to a Champ Car career high of three. The resident of Miami, Florida has qualified in the top-10 in the first three races of the 2003 Champ Car season.

Patrick Racing was making its 26th start at Long Beach. The team has now qualified in the top-10 a remarkable 19 times in 26 attempts. They have finished in the points 15 times with eight top-10 showings and six top-five performances. The team's best finish is second (Fittipaldi - 1985 and Scott Pruett - 1995).

Next up for Visteon/Patrick Racing is a two-day test in Phoenix on April 15- 16. The next race will be the London Champ Car Trophy at Brands Hatch on May 5.

For background, statistical information, releases, notes, quotes plus updates on race weekends, go to (www.patrickracing.com

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Adrian Fernandez , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Oriol Servia , Scott Pruett