VANCOUVER, CANADA - SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2001 -- Round ...
VANCOUVER, CANADA - SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2001 -- Round #15 of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series - Visteon/Patrick Racing's Roberto Moreno qualified seventh while teammate Jimmy Vasser will line-up 15th for tomorrow's Molson Indy Vancouver on the temporary street circuit in Vancouver, Canada.
Moreno, piloting the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, began the day third on the combined practice report following Friday's twin practice sessions with a quick lap of 61.506 seconds (104.243 mph). Saturday morning practice began on a wet track from the previous evening's and early morning rain. Most drivers, including Moreno, did not take to the circuit until well into the session. Battling a track that had most of the tire rubber washed away, several red flags and traffic, the native of Brazil was still able to post a very respectable time of 61.631 seconds (104.032 mph) putting him seventh on the morning practice report. In qualifying, Moreno went out with the second, or "fast" group based on his tenth place position in the FedEX Championship Series standings. After getting his tires warmed up the session was halted by a red flag negating the first of his fast laps. When action resumed, Moreno came on strong positing his fastest lap of the weekend with a time of 61.260 seconds (104.662 mph). The quick lap put him third on the speed charts, but within two laps he was sixth. With plenty of time remaining and a new set of tires set to go on for his final stint the possibility of a pole still loomed. Unfortunately, fate intervened. Shortly after turning the fast lap, Moreno's engine shut down due to an electrical problem ending his qualifying run. His time, however, held up well and he will start tomorrow's race on the inside of Row #4.
"The Visteon/Patrick Racing team did a great job today," Moreno said. "Unfortunately, we had an electrical problem that ended our qualifying session early. It was a shame because we had just run our quickest lap of the weekend and I think if we had finished the session we could have fought for the pole. The fact that the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing team ended up seventh on the grid without getting a chance to run our last set of tires shows how competitive we are here. The #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard has been quick every session this weekend so I think we have an excellent car for the race tomorrow," Moreno noted.
The resident of Weston, Florida has now qualified in the top-10 six times in 15 attempts this year. It is his second highest and third consecutive top-10 starting position, in five appearances, at Vancouver. Moreno, who has fought his way back into the top-10 in the standings for the first time since July 1, is currently 10th in the championship race with 54 points. He is looking for a strong performance tomorrow as he tries to get into striking distance of the top-five and back into the championship battle.
Moreno, who's best finish at Vancouver is 10th last year, has finished in the points in seven of eight road/street events with four top-10 showings including both his podium performances. He has finished in the points in four of the five street races with two top-10 placements and one podium, third at Detroit.
The personable father of two has finished 12 of the 13 races this year, the most of any driver, and has scored points in 10 of the 13 events, including seven of the last eight. He has placed in the top-10 five times with two podium appearances. Moreno has finished in the points in 20 of his last 31 road/street course races with 15 top-10 placements, eight top-five showings and five podiums including one victory (career first, and only, Cleveland 2000). He has finished in the top-10 in 23 of his last 46 starts and in the points 32 times.
Vasser, behind the wheel of the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, started the day 14th on the combined practice report following yesterday's sessions with a fast time of 62.378 seconds (102.786 mph). In morning practice he was able to find more speed and picked up one position on the speed charts notching a quick lap of 61.965 seconds (103.471mph). Qualifying in the first, or "slow" group based on his 13th place position in the point standings, Vasser continued to improve. He was in the top-three for most of the first half of the session and in first for several minutes with a fast lap of 61.822 seconds (103.711 mph). After a couple of suspension changes he put on new tires and began his final stint with 10 minutes remaining. Two laps into the final run his qualifying effort came to an abrupt halt when he nosed his car into the tire barrier in Turn #6.
"The #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reyanrd felt real good, but unfortunately we didn't get a chance to show how fast we could run," Vasser said. "On the lap I crashed the tire pressures were still low in the front and when that is the case the front end is lower. The car started hitting the ground as I was going into the corner and I lost my braking grip. Then the front end locked up and I hit the tire wall. It was a bad deal. We had a pretty good car on Friday, struggled a little on Saturday, and then improved the car today. I think we have a competitive car for the race, but we are starting back in the field. We will just have to see what happens," Vasser concluded.
The California native has now qualified in the top-10 seven times in 15 attempts this year and three times in 10 appearances at Vancouver. He will need another strong effort at Vancouver, where he has finished in the top-10 four times, including four of the last five years, with two podium appearances (second in 1997 and third in 1999), if he is to end a streak that has seen him score points in just one of the last nine races. Vasser is currently 13th in the standings with 50 points.
The Las Vegas resident has placed in the top- five four times and in the top-six in five of 13 races this year. He has finished in the top-six in three of eight road/street races, all three times on street circuits. In 97 CART career road/street races, Vasser has finished in the points 56 times with 49 top-10 finishes, 25 top-five showings, 14 podium appearances and four wins. He has finished 92 of his last 116 races placing in the points 86 times (dating to Milwaukee `95).
Visteon/Patrick Racing has had their best performances of the season on the street circuits in 2001. In five street races, 10 starts (including Mexico), the team has produced seven finishes in the points with five top-10 performances, three top-five showings and one podium appearance. In fact, the Visteon/Patrick Racing team has achieved most of its success this season on the road and street circuits. In eight road/street races, 16 starts, they have finished in the points 10 times, with seven top-10 placements including four top-five and the two podium performances. Additionally, Patrick Racing's record at Vancouver provides further evidence that at least a top-10 finish is within their grasp. In eight previous races in Vancouver, 12 starts, Patrick Racing drivers have qualified in the top-10 six times with a best starting position of second in 1999. They have finished in the points seven times each time in the top-10 with two podium finishes, both thirds.
The Molson Indy Vancouver will be run on Sunday, September 2 at 2:00 PM (PT) and will be televised tape delayed on ESPN2 at 6:00 PM (ET).