Visteon/Patrick Racing shows improvement Servia qualifies 16th for inaugural Gran Premio Telmex-Gigante.
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO -- SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2002 -- Round #19 of the 2002 FedEx Championship Series - Visteon/Patrick Racing showed significant improved as driver Oriol Servia qualified 16th today for tomorrow's inaugural Gran Premio Telmex-Gigante presented by Banamex/Visa at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, Mexico.
Servia, behind the wheel of the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing entry, with Toyota power and Bridgestone tires, began the day 19th, last, on the provisional grid following yesterday's qualifying session with a time of 89.659 seconds (111.864 mph). More to the point, he was 3.7 seconds behind the pole sitter and 1.6 seconds behind the 18th place car.
After a long evening analyzing data the team came out in today's morning practice and immediately showed that the hard work and diligence paid off. Servia ran a quick time of 88.686 seconds (113.091 mph) in the morning session putting him 15th on the individual practice report. During the short pre-qualifying afternoon practice session the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team continued to experiment with the setup and wound up running a fast lap of 89.958 seconds (111.492 mph). While the time was slower than the morning practice, it was the 16th fastest of the afternoon session and provided the team with a direction that would produce greater gains. In final qualifying Servia produced his fastest lap of the weekend turning a quick time of 87.727 seconds (114.327 mph). The time was good for 14th on the speed charts for the session and when combined with the previous days' speeds put him 16th on the grid. More importantly the quick lap jumped Servia three spots on the starting grid and cut the gap to the pole-sitter by almost two seconds.
"The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team improved the car today," Servia began. "We are now running with everybody else. Yesterday, we were running a completely different race than the other drivers. Now we are running the same race, we are just in the back of the grid," he noted. "The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team is not where we want to be, but we improved the car a lot from yesterday to today. Now we need to make the same amount of improvement before tomorrow," Servia said.
Commenting on his chances in tomorrow's race Servia said, "It is a long race and it is very easy to make a mistake at this track, especially on the back part of the circuit. So just about anything can happen. The key right now is to find some more front grip and improve the car because if we have a good car we can still have a good race. The other thing is, once again, I will be counting on Mr. Patrick and Jim McGee to come up with a race strategy that will help me move-up to the front in the race. We have done it before and I am confident we can do it again."
Servia, who is making his 53rd career CART start, 13th of the 2002 season and tenth for Visteon/Patrick Racing, has qualified in the top-ten in two of 13 attempts this year and two of ten since joining Visteon/Patrick Racing. His best starting position is ninth achieved at Australia and Elkhart Lake. Visteon/Patrick Racing has qualified in the top-ten seven times in 19 races this season.
Servia, 28, has finished in the points in seven of the 12 races he has contested this year and in the top-ten five times with a best showing of fourth at the Rockingham 500 in Corby, England. The native of Pals, Catalonia, Spain is 17th in the point standings with 40.
The Gran Premio Telmex-Gigante presented by Banamex/Visa will be televised live on Sunday, November 17 from 4:00 - 6:30 PM (ET) on Speed Channel. The pre-race show will air from 3:30 - 4:00 PM (ET).