Team Australia's Will Power bested a field of seventeen drivers to claim pole position for the inaugural Vegas Grand Prix in the Champ Car World Series Powered by Cosworth. His time of 1:17.629 (113.154 mph) establishes a new track record as the...
Team Australia's Will Power bested a field of seventeen drivers to claim pole position for the inaugural Vegas Grand Prix in the Champ Car World Series Powered by Cosworth. His time of 1:17.629 (113.154 mph) establishes a new track record as the series is making its first trip back to the streets of Las Vegas in over 20 years.
Rookie driver Robert Doornbos, 1:18.515 (111.877 mph), was second fastest followed by veteran Alex Tagliani 1:18.850 (111.401 mph) and freshman Simon Pagenaud 1:18.961 (111.253 mph).
Power, now in his third season with the open-wheel series, showed his speed earlier during pre-qualifying practice when he lapped in the 1:18s and 1:17s. The pole is the second of his career and second in his past three events going back to Australia 2006. He qualified fourth at the season finale in Mexico City.
"We worked on the setup all the way until qualifying", Power said." We've been getting stronger every year. It takes a long time to learn how to drive theses cars; they're a real drivers' car. It's just hard work."
Doornbos is driving for the newly formed Minardi USA in the Red Bull program following a stint last year in Formula 1.
"First of all it's great to be in the Champ Car World Series." Doornbos said." We started the weekend off not very competitive. I sat down with my engineer and he tuned the car to my liking. It went really well at the end. The Bridgestone red (stripped, softer) tires are a new experience but we turned out a good result. My experience in Formula 1 has helped me to drive the car fast."
Bruno Junqueira, now driving for Dale Coyne Racing, set the bar early on in Saturday's session eclipsing Tracy's time by nearly a half second to 1:19.326 (110.733 mph). "Junky" wound up qualifying in fifth place for Sunday's race.
Forsythe Racing's Mario Dominguez set off after Junqueira's time and he too beat the Friday's mark with a lap of 1:19.565 (110.097 mph) on his fifth circuit.
Power erased all that effort on his fourth lap, crossing the line with a time of 1:18.508 (111.897 mph). No other driver even came close to that until the final five minutes, and that was after Power had lowered the mark by another second.
Starting to make a name for himself is second generation driver Graham Rahal. The young rookie qualified in 10th, eight spots better than his father Bobby did 25 years earlier. The elder Rahal finished 18th in his first attempt.
"It's been a tough day," Rahal said of his effort." I damaged the (primary) car in practice and we had to get the backup car out for qualifying. The car was equally prepared. The guys did a great job getting it ready especially since it's never turned a wheel."
Three-time defending series champion Sebastien Bourdais had a horrible afternoon contacting a wall at the outside of Turn 9. Bourdais was unhurt but his suspension wasn't and that spelled the end of his run. The Frenchman will start from the final row.
"The McDonald's car had too much understeer and I just forced the thing." Bourdais said of the incident." The car stepped out a little bit on the exit and I was already to close to the wall and hit the rear a little bit." It wasn't that bad a hit but it bent the toe link and broke the rim."
Friday's qualifying round was topped by local resident Paul Tracy. Tracy's time of 1:19.784 (110.097 mph) was one of only two to get into the 1:19-second range. Rookie Simon Pagenaud beat out three-time defending champion Sebastien Bourdais with a time of 1:19.998 (110.803 mph) for the second spot.
By virtue of his provisional pole position achieved on Friday, Tracy will start on the outside of Row 1 alone side Power.
"This is a great street course." Tracy said. "This is probably one of the finest circuits, and not only from a drivers' standpoint. This is one of the longest street courses we've ever run on, 2.4 miles, Australia is 2.7. The city (Las Vegas) has looked at what it takes to be successful, in this market, to put on a great race and a great show for the fans."