CHAMPCAR/CART: Mexico City: Friday qualifying report

Bourdais Guaranteed Front Row Starting Spot for Final Champ Car Race in Mexico City French Quadruple Champion Breaks Track Record En Route to Provisional Pole MEXICO CITY, Mexico (November 9, 2007) -- Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing pilot ...

Bourdais Guaranteed Front Row Starting Spot for Final Champ Car Race in Mexico City

French Quadruple Champion Breaks Track Record En Route to Provisional Pole

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (November 9, 2007) -- Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing pilot Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) got his final weekend of Champ Car World Series competition off to a perfect start in Friday's opening round of qualifying by breaking the track record en route to the provisional pole position for Sunday's Gran Premio Tecate presented by Banamex (ESPN, Live, 2 p.m. ET).

After wrapping up an unprecedented fourth consecutive Champ Car World Series title in Surfers Paradise last month, the pressure was off Bourdais on Friday at the historic Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit. The Frenchman posted a best lap at 1:24.698 (117.906 mph), eclipsing the previous record of 1:24.801 (117.763 mph) set by Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgstone) in qualifying last year. Bourdais is making his final Champ Car start this weekend before embarking on a new career in Formula 1 in 2008.

Bourdais earned another championship point and is guaranteed a front-row starting spot in Sunday's race by virtue of his provisional pole-winning performance. It is Bourdais' 10th front-row starting spot in 14 races this season and is the 46th time in what will be 73 career Champ Car starts that he has qualified on the front row. He is looking for his 31st career victory on Sunday, which would tie him with Paul Tracy (#3 INDECK Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) and two-time series champion Al Unser Jr. for sixth place on the all-time win list. He owns a pair of victories from Mexico City, including last year, when he passed Wilson on the final lap, and also was the only driver to lead from start to finish en route to the victory in 2004.

On his final lap of the qualifying session, Wilson put his RuSPORT machine second on the provisional grid with a lap at 1:24.825 (117.729 mph). The Brit is looking for his first front-row starting spot since he started second in September at Assen and is looking for his fifth front-row starting position of the season overall. His lone victory of the season to date came in Assen, and he won in Mexico City in 2005. He is currently second in the championship standings, leading rookie Robert Doornbos (#14 Minardi Team USA Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) by eight points heading into Sunday's season finale.

Despite lingering effects from a broken wrist sustained three weeks ago during the Lexmark Indy 300 in his native Australia, Team Australia pilot Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) claimed third on the provisional grid with a lap at 1:25.199 (117.213 mph). Power is looking to end the season as he started it in the season-opener at Las Vegas--with a victory from the pole position. Power owns a total of four poles and two wins from the 2007 season thus far--including the pole last time out at Surfers Paradise--but he hasn't won since Round 7 at Toronto. Power earned the first podium result of his Champ Car career with a third-place run last year in Mexico City.

Ironically, the top-three drivers in provisional qualifying finished last year's Gran Premio Tecate presented by Banamex in the same order.

In just his second 2007 appearance with PKV Racing, Oriol Servia (#22 Pay By Touch Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) qualified fourth provisionally with a lap at 1:25.436 (116.887 mph). Servia started second in his '07 debut with the team at Surfers Paradise before contact relegated him to 14th in the final rundown. The Catalan enters Sunday's race ranked ninth in the championship standings, but he has a chance to finish as high as fourth in the final points table.

American rookie Graham Rahal (#2 Medi|Zone Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) made it two Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing cars inside the top-five on the provisional grid and was the highest-ranking rookie in the field with a lap at 1:25.889 (116.271 mph). Rahal is still looking for his first career Champ Car victory and is looking to maintain a top-five spot in the final championship standings. He is currently ranked fifth. He has four career Champ Car podiums with a career-best result of second in April at Houston.

Placing sixth on the provisional grid was 2006 Champ Car Atlantic champion Simon Pagenaud (#15 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) of Team Australia with a lap at 1:25.952 (116.186 mph). Forsythe Championship Racing teammates David Martinez (#7 INDECK Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) and Tracy claimed seventh and eighth, respectively on the provisional grid. Making just his second Champ Car appearance of the season, Martinez turned in a best qualifying lap at 1:26.056 (116.045 mph), while Tracy was just a few ticks behind his teammate at 1:26.130 (115.946 mph). Neel Jani (#21 Red Bull-Gulfstream Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) was ninth-quickest on the day for PKV Racing at 1:26.156 (115.911 mph), and Mexico City's own Mario Dominguez (#28 TECATE Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) completed the top 10 with a lap at 1:26.181 (115.877 mph) for Pacific Coast Motorsports.

The Gran Premio Tecate presented by Banamex will go green at 1:00 p.m. local time (2:00 p.m. ET) on Sunday. The race can be seen live on ESPN in the United States. Fans can also follow all of the action via the official website of the Champ Car World Series, www.champcar.ws.

QUOTES FROM THE TOP-THREE DRIVERS IN PROVISIONAL QUALIFYING FOLLOW BELOW:

Sebastien Bourdais #1 McDonalds Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Qualified 1st) -- "The car was very competitive on the track. My team did a great job again. No surprise there. It's a place we've been pretty solid here in Mexico City, pretty competitive and solid at the front. Everything is going according to plan. Just made a couple of mistakes on the second run on the options, which definitely were quite a bit better, so expecting a little bit more out of the McDonald's car tomorrow and hopefully we can stay on top and have a great weekend again."

Justin Wilson #9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Qualified 2nd) -- "Today is almost a replay of last year [Mexico City 2006] where we nearly had the pole, but just missed it. I was doing everything I could and slid wide in a couple of corners and made a small mistake in Turn 6 and I think it cost me the pole, but we will try again tomorrow. When you start out front it's much easier to focus on the job of winning. Hopefully the rest of the weekend will playout the same way and we can go out with a win. I really have to thank my team for preparing such a great car and to Mike Talbott, my race engineer, who has given me a another good car again this weekend and I think as the track gets more rubber down, the car will only get better and faster. As much as I want to win the race, I also know that I am still fighting for second place in the championship with Robert [Doornbos], so it's important for me to focus on my job of collecting as many points as possible to secure second place."

Will Power #5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Qualified 3rd) -- "You're getting a lot out of the race car here. I believe you can gain anywhere between a half a second and a second with the Bridgestone Reds. We're looking pretty good for tomorrow. We didn't have a good first run so I wasn't confident enough to progress. I'm thinking it will be better tomorrow when we can run two sets."

-credit: ccws

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Al Unser Jr. , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Graham Rahal , Mario Dominguez , Sébastien Bourdais , David Martinez , Neel Jani , Will Power , Simon Pagenaud