Canadans cop top three spots in qualifying
Tracy paces Tagliani and Carpentier
Realizing he must respond to the challenges posted by new points leader Bruno Junqueira, Paul Tracy paced qualifying today for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio in his #3 Team Player's Lola/Ford-Cosworth/Bridgestone racer, posting a lap of 67.204 seconds (120.957mph) on the 2.258-mile natural road course. Tracy earned one championship point to move within two of the Brazilian (164-162) and earned his ninth front row start in race #13 of a 19-event campaign. "We had a good test here and knew we needed to respond," Tracy said. "There were a lot of cars on the circuit so I just waited to get a clear lap" on his fifth of 11 total tours.
Tagliani had a difficult morning practice when his Ford-Cosworth XFE expired, limiting his practice. Despite that, he placed second in the #33 Johnson Controls Lola at 67.477 seconds (120.468mph). On a partly cloudy afternoon when temps ranged from 78-80 (air) and 92-95 on the track, Tagliani admitted he was "lucky to get a clear lap on my second set of tires. Our results are due to intense preparation by our engineering staff particularly for this race."
Last year's victor from pole Patrick Carpentier logged the third quickest lap of the afternoon in his #32 Team Player's Lola of 67.611 seconds (120.229mph), despite being penalized a quicker tour when the Stewards found him guilty of blocking late in the 40-minute session. "It was a so-so-day for me," Carpentier shrugged. "There was a lot of traffic at the end so I never got a clear lap," despite being fastest in practice."
Mario Dominguez took fourth today in the #55 Herdez Lola at 67.652 seconds (120.156mph) and noted, "We showed up with a good car right out of the box and our test really helped us. Michel Jourdain was fifth in the #9 Gigante Lola as he prepared for Sunday's 92-lap contest, at 67.696 seconds (120.078mph, balked by traffic. Rookie Sebastien Bourdais was "on the final corner before the front straight when red came out" to end the session early, yet was sixth quickest in the #2 Lilly Lola at 67.699 seconds (120.073mph). "It was a difficult session as there was a lot of traffic."
Oriol Servia was seventh in the #20 Visteon Lola at 67.801 seconds (119.892mph). Roberto Moreno took eighth in the #4 Herdez Lola when he toured this very physical 13-turn circuit at 67.804 seconds (119.887mph), "pleased with the results from today."
Of 19 qualifiers, 15 lapped within one second in preparation for Sunday's Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio. Saturday final qualifying airs on Speed TV at 4PM EDT.