CHAMPCAR/CART: Mexico City: PKV Racing Friday report

PKV RACING'S ORIOL SERVIA SIXTH ON PROVISIONAL GRID FOR GRAN PREMIO TELMEX Legge Provisionally Qualifies 17th MEXICO CITY, MEXICO -- FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2006 -- Round ...

PKV RACING'S ORIOL SERVIA SIXTH ON PROVISIONAL GRID FOR GRAN PREMIO TELMEX
Legge Provisionally Qualifies 17th

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO -- FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2006 -- Round #14 -- 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing's Oriol Servia qualified sixth on the provisional gird for Sunday's Gran Premio Telmex at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, Mexico. Teammate Katherine Legge qualified 17t.

Servia, in the #6 Gulfsteam -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine, qualified with a quick lap of 86.527 seconds (115.414 mph) on the challenging and physically demanding 2.781-mile, 16-turn Mexico City permanent road course. Legge, #20 Bell Micro -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, and her crew played a strategy game today choosing not to run the red alternate tires while working to improve the car in the hope that they can make a big gain in tomorrow's final qualifying. She qualified with a time of 87.720 seconds (113.844 mph).

Servia recorded the third fastest time of the morning practice clocking a quick lap of 88.346 seconds (113.037mph). During the 15-minute afternoon practice/warm-up, he ran just four laps posting a fast lap of 88.670 seconds for a speed of 112.624 mph placing him seventh on the individual practice report and fourth on the combined report. In qualifying, the Gulfstream -- PKV Racing went with a two short stint strategy running just four laps each stint instead of the usual seven. Servia went out for his first run on the black primary tire with just under 18 minutes remaining in the 35 minute qualifying session. His fast time during the first stint was 87.619 seconds (113.975 mph), which placed him sixth on the speed charts at the time. Changing to the red alternate tire for his second run, Servia took to the track with just over six minutes remaining. He was steadily dropping down the grid as he heated up his tires and worked his way through traffic. On his third lap of the stint and seventh of a total of eight he clicked off his fast time and shot from 14th to sixth fastest.

"Realistically, the Gulfstream -- PKV Racing car was the same as it was this morning," Servia noted. "We were third fastest this morning, but one second off the fastest car. In qualifying we were one second off the top two guys, but we were position six. It's just two other guys got faster than us, but the distance to the front is the same, so we made the same progress as they did. The Gulfstream -- PKV Racing team just needs to catch up a little more than the guys at the front during final qualifying tomorrow," he concluded.

Servia is looking for another strong performance here in Mexico City as he attempts to climb into the top-10 in the final championship standings. The 32-year-old native of Catalunya, Spain, who currently sits 11th in the standings with 178 points, is just five points out of 10th place and 31 out of fifth going into the final event of the 2006 season. Servia, who will be making his fifth start in Mexico City, has qualified in the top-10 twice in four previous attempts with a best starting position of fifth earned he 2005. He has finished in the top-10 three times placing a career high fourth last year, seventh in 2004 and ninth in 2002.

Servia, who is starting his 14th race for PKV Racing, has finished in the top-10 in seven of the 13 races this year including four top-five showings and the team's only podium performance of the season a third place finish in Cleveland. In addition to the podium, and the fourth place showing at Road America, Servia has finished fourth in Edmonton, fifth in Milwaukee, eighth in Monterrey and San Jose and 10th in Portland. In the six races he has not placed in the top-10, he DNF'ed (did not finish) every time, only once due to pilot error, and all six times he was running in the top-five when he went out of the race. Servia has been exceptionally consistent in qualifying. He has qualified in the top-10 in 11 of the 13 races with five top-five starting spots. Servia's qualifying record to date is one short of the team record for top-10 starting spots in a season, set by Jimmy Vasser and Cristiano da Matta both in 2005, and one short of the team record for top-five starting positions in a season, set by da Matta also last year. Servia holds the team record for consecutive top-five starting spots with four, having qualified a season high fourth in Cleveland, fifth in Edmonton, Toronto and San Jose.

Now in his seventh Champ Car season, Servia will be making his 112th career start this weekend. He has earned 58 top-ten finishes including 29 top-five showings, 13 podium performances and one victory (Montreal 2005). The resident of Miami, Florida, who has finished in the top-10 in the standings the last three years, is coming off his best Champ Car season placing second last year.

Legge was 14th on the speed charts after the morning practice with a time of 89.985 seconds (110.978 mph). She ran only three laps in the 15-minute warm-up posting a time of 89.642 seconds (111.403 mph) placing her 16th on the individual practice report and 17th on the combined report. In qualifying the Bell Micro -- PKV Racing crew went with a convention strategy to begin with, running two stints, the first going for seven laps and the second for eight laps giving her a total of 15, the maximum allowed. He first stint began at the drop of the green flag on the black, primary tires. At the end of the stint Legge had posted a quick time of 88.468 seconds (112.882 mph) which she achieved on her seventh and last lap of the run. The time placed her fifth of the nine cars that were on the track at the time. They second part of the team's strategy, which was a bit of a gamble, occurred during her second stint when the team decided to forego the red alternate tire, which is usually faster due to its softer compound, in favor of a second run on the black primary tire. Legge began her second stint with 12 minutes remaining in the session and posted her quick time of the day on the sixth lap of the stint and her 13th overall.

"The Bell Micro -- PKV Racing team gambled a bit in qualifying today," Legge began. "We were one of the few teams not to run on the red (alternate) tires in qualifying gambling that we will be able to use them tomorrow. Everybody else ran reds thinking it might rain tomorrow. When you are in the middle of the grid you might as well take a gamble, which is what we did," she explained. "We reckon the reds are at least a half second faster than the primary (black) tires, so we are not worried. We just tired to work on the car and sacrifice today and hope that the gamble pays off and we can make a bigger gain then everyone else tomorrow," Legge concluded.

Legge, a rookie, who is competing for the first time in Mexico City, will be making her 14th career Champ Car start. The native of Britain has earned four top-10 finishes in her first 12 races placing a season, and career, high sixth at Milwaukee, eighth in her Champ Car debut at Long Beach eighth in Cleveland and ninth in Denver. She has qualified in the top-10 twice in 12 attempts this year (eighth on the oval in Milwaukee and on the Road America road course). The resident of Indianapolis, Indiana is third in laps completed (1094 of 1185) and ninth in laps led with 11. Legge is 16th in the standings with 128 points. She is fifth in the Roshrans Rookie of the Year race.

PKV Racing will be making its sixth and seventh starts and contesting its fourth race in Mexico City.

The team has qualified in the top-10 three times with a best starting position of fourth by Jimmy Vasser in 2004 (Cristiano da Matta -- fifth, 2005; Vasser -- 10th, 2005). They have finished in the top-10 three times with a best showing of fifth by Mika Salo in 2003 and Vasser in 2004 (Vasser -- sixth, 2005).

There will be a practice session tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. followed by final qualifying at 2:00

The Gran Premio Telmex, Round #14 of the 2006 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, October 20-22, on the streets of Surfers Paradise, Australia.

-credit: pkv racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Mika Salo , Oriol Servia , Katherine Legge , Cristiano da Matta