Rain Disrupts Cart Qualifying
Rahal Drivers Will Start Sixh And Tenth Based On Friday'S Results
MONTERREY, MEXICO . . . Team Rahal drivers Michel Jourdain Jr. and Jimmy Vasser held their top-ten grid spots when heavy afternoon rains washed out Saturday afternoon qualifying for Sunday's Grand Prix of Monterrey.
Jourdain driver of the Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola car will start sixth, his best ever road course start in his Champ Car career. The 25-year-old native of Mexico will be making his first start for Team Rahal on Sunday as sponsor Gigante will make its Champ Car debut.
Jimmy Vasser will start tenth in the Shell car. Vasser, the 1996 CART champion, will also be making his Team Rahal debut.
The rain thwarted potential pole runs by Vasser and Jourdain. Vasser was second quick in the morning practice session with a fast lap of 99.007 mph. Jourdain was ninth quick in the morning session with a fast lap of 98.221 mph. Jourdain held the provisional pole for nearly 39 minutes during the Friday qualifying only to see his fast lap eclipsed with less than a minute in the session.
Jimmy Vasser (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola on Bridgestone tires) - "The rain really was unfortunate for our Shell team. We were second fastest in the morning practice and the car felt very good. Actually, the car has been good all weekend and we have a good understanding of the car its just that qualifying just didn't come our way today. Both Michel's and my car are running well. We had laps Friday that were much quicker but we didn't get them because of red flags and other things. We were set for a good run today but we'll have to start tenth and work our way up the field. I think we can make hay in the race with this car. I can't tell you if the track will have any rubber for Sunday with this rain. But it's going to be a real crapshoot for everyone and we'll have to adjust to the track in the morning. There was good rubber in the braking zone in the racing line, but, off line, there isn't much grip and that will be tough to overtake. We'll have to wait to see how this new race strategy plays out. It will be a whole new experience for all of the teams. Starting in tenth won't be easy for me to get to the front but it could play into my hands if the guys up front start making mistakes. Our first goal is to finish and get points this early in the season. But if we're in position at the end, I think we'll have the car to win. But driving the car to the front with those slippery braking zones could be very difficult."
Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola on Bridgestone tires) - "It is a very good start with a new team. It is a good start for Gigante and Office Depot. We were close to the pole Friday and I thought we had a better car today for a chance for the overall pole, but we didn't get the opportunity. I really wanted to fight for the pole today. But sixth is okay. It is my best road course qualifying spot. I think we have a good car for the race too. We are starting a good position and we want to finish on Sunday and get some good points. It is a very long season and we would like a good start here with our new sponsors. This is a very good team and they are giving me excellent equipment. I'm anxious to race on Sunday."