PKV RACING NINTH AND 10TH ON PROVISIONAL GRID FOR TECATE/TELMEX MONTERREY GRAND PRIX
PKV RACING/TEAM MEXICO DRIVER JORGE GOETERS QUALIFIES 18TH
MONTERREY, MEXICO -- FRIDAY, MAY 20, 2005 -- Round #2 -- 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing drivers Jimmy Vasser and Cristiano da Matta qualified ninth and 10th respectively during today's provisional qualifying for Sunday's Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix on the road course at Fundidora Park in Monterrey, Mexico.
Vasser, who drives the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone car, had a fast lap of 76.519 seconds (98.987) in qualifying. The 39-year-old native of California began the day ninth on the speed charts after the morning practice with a quick time of 78.429 seconds (96.577 mph). In the afternoon warm-up before qualifying he notched a fast lap of 78.226 seconds (96.827 mph), placing him seventh on the individual practice report and ninth on the combined report.
Commenting on qualifying Vasser said, "I certainly think that the PKV Racing cars should both be in the top five on the grid. We just haven't extracted everything out of the car that we can, but sometimes it is tough to get everything going right in a particular session. Hopefully, we will be able to put it all together tomorrow and move up on the grid."
Vasser, who is in his 14th Champ Car season will be making his 199th consecutive Champ Car start (an ongoing record) on Sunday and fifth on the 2.1-mile, 12-turn Fundidora Park road course. In four previous starts in Monterrey he has qualified in the top-10 three times with a best starting position of seventh, last year. Vasser has finished in the top-10 once placing sixth at the inaugural Monterrey race in 2001. A resident of Las Vegas, NV, Vasser is the 1996 Series Champion and the only owner driver in the series. He is one of four former champions and three Americans competing in the 2005 Champ Car World Series.
Da Matta, who pilots the #21 Bell Micro/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine, turned a quick time in qualifying of 76.537 seconds (98.964 mph). The personable 31-year-old Brazilian was fourth on the speed charts following the morning practice session with a quick lap of 78.149 seconds (96.923 mph). In the pre-qualifying practice session da Matta posted a fast time of 77.257 seconds (98.042 mph), which placed him fourth on both the individual and combined practice reports.
"It was a difficult session for the Bell Micro/PKV Racing team," da Matta noted. "We really didn't get everything out of the car, mostly because of the traffic and the red flag," he explained. "The PKV Racing team just has to put our heads together and do a little more work for tomorrow's final qualifying. I really feel that we have a top-five car. We just need a couple of things to go our way," da Matta concluded.
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Although he is not the defending champion, da Matta, who rejoined the Champ Car World Series this year after two seasons in Formula 1, is seeking his third consecutive victory at Fundidora Park. The resident of Miami, FL, won the inaugural event in Monterrey in 2001 and then defended his title the following year. Da Matta's best qualifying position in Monterrey is second, in 2001 (started fifth in 2002). Da Matta, who is the 2002 Series Champion, is campaigning his fifth Champ Car season. He is one of four former champions and one of two Brazilians (Bruno Junqueira) competing this season in Champ Car.
In addition to da Matta and Vasser, PKV Racing recently signed Mexican star Jorge Goeters to drive the #52 PKV Racing/Team Mexico Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone entry. The 35-year-old resident of Mexico City, who is competing in a Champ Car for the first time, qualified 18th on the provisional grid with a fast time of 79.225 seconds (95.606 mph). Goeters was predictably last on the speed charts in both session practice session as he spent most of his time familiarizing himself with a Champ Car.
Goeters, who competed against PKV Racing teammate Cristiano da Matta in the Indy Lights in 1998, received international attention when he captured the pole and led 24 laps before succumbing to engine problems at the NASCAR Busch Race earlier this year in Mexico City. Currently, Goeters is competing in the Desafio Corona Stock Car Challenge where he leads the championship standings having finished in the top-three in all four events with two wins, most recently this weekend at Queretaro, Mexico (other victory came in second event of the season at Guadalajara). He finished second in the season opener in Mexico City and third in the third race at Zacatecas.
PKV Racing will be making its fourth, fifth and sixth starts while competing in its third Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix. The team's best finish is a ninth place showing by Mexican native Roberto Gonzalez last year and its best starting position is seventh by Vasser also in 2004.
There will be another practice session tomorrow morning with final qualifying set for 2:00 p.m. The Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix will be run at 3:45 (ET), 2:45 local (CT) on Sunday, May 22 and will be broadcast tape delayed on the Speed Channel at 11:00 p.m. (ET).