CHAMPCAR/CART: Power paces soggy Q2 in Mont-Tremblant

Will Power pulled a rabbit out of his hat on his final lap, posting the fastest time in today's second round of qualifying in Mont-Tremblant. With a mix of wet-dry conditions, today's times were basically a wash. The rain ensured Tristan Gommendy his first pole position with today's fastest driver earning the outside front row starting position.

Will Power sits in his car as the rain falls heavily.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
The session began under rainy conditions and only a few drivers were brave enough to go out, Sebastien Bourdais and the two Minardi drivers Robert Doornbos and Dan Clarke. Doornbos' time of 1:34.225 held for a while before his teammate lowered that mark by over two seconds. By that point the rain had let up and the track began to dry - though not completely. The first sector still was difficult to sustain grip on slick tires.

Bruno Junqueira and Jan Heylen each briefly went to the top of the pylon before Justin Wilson lowered each of their marks, and was the first to drop below 1:30. Prior to his quick laps Wilson had a pirouette but continued unscathed.

Wilson had dipped to 1:28.725 before Alex Tagliani took over the top spot by half a second. Then Clarke came through with a lap of 1:26.457, moving to P1 for what became an agonizingly long period. Clarke lowered the mark all the way down to 1:23.093 and appeared to have his front row starting spot.

Alas, it was not to be for "Speedy" Dan, living up to his nickname for once. Paul Tracy was first to get within a second of the Englishman at a 1:24.1 before Neel Jani joined Clarke in the 1:23 club. Doornbos came within a tenth of Clarke, now out of laps, and it became evident at that point his time would not hold up.

Wilson went to P1 at a 1:22.386 before Tracy bumped him. Jani and Oriol Servia also dropped into the 1:22 range but came up short of PT. Simon Pagenaud then snared the top spot as the first in the 1:21 bracket, just knocking off Doornbos at a 1:22.093.

But even that didn't hold. As the checkered flag flew there were still a number of drivers on their hot laps, Junqueira going P3 before Wilson retook the top spot at 1:20.981. And only then did Power make his first appearance at the top of the timesheets, after languishing in the midfield most of the session. Power was the first driver to switch onto dry-weather slicks, and struggled for grip in the wet first sector.

Will Power.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
At a lap of 1:20.943, Power took a pivotal outside pole and the point that goes with it. He starts ahead of championship rivals Bourdais and Doornbos, 3rd and 6th on the grid respectively.

The drying track meant that all the fast times came on everyone's last lap. No less than eleven of the 15 drivers who posted a time in this session ran their quickest times on their final trip around the picturesque road course. A lot of drivers who came close to P1 in the session fell down the order - Pagenaud, Junqueira, Doornbos and Tracy were 8th through 11th.

Clarke is likely known around the paddock right now as "disappointed" Dan, falling to 14th out of 15 in this session. He was a victim of timing as had there been more rain or a red flag, he could have kept the top spot. His Friday time means he will start 10th tomorrow.

Gommendy watched today's action from the sideline as he was guaranteed a front-row start from Friday regardless of what happened today. The rain only solidified his first pole position. Ironically, Gommendy would have been the beneficiary of a similar situation at Portland. He had the quickest time of a rain-soaked 2nd session, but lost it after causing a red flag.