CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: Patrick Racing race report

SURFERS PARADISE, AUSTRALIA - SUNDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2003 -- Round ...

SURFERS PARADISE, AUSTRALIA - SUNDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2003 -- Round #17 - 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season - Visteon/Patrick Racing driver Oriol Servia was the victim of a incident during the opening laps of the race and finished 19th today in the Lexmark Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise, Australia.

Servia, behind the wheel of the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing entry, which is powered by Ford/Cosworth and uses a Lola chassis with Bridgestone tires, started sixth. The opening lap of the race was run under yellow then went green at the start of lap two. As the cars approached the first chicane Sebastian Bourdais and Paul Tracy made contact causing Tracy to spin. Adrian Fernandez, who was trailing the incident, decided to cut through the chicane to avoid hitting Tracy and moved to the right. Servia, who was on the inside to the right of Fernandez and slightly behind, was hit by Fernandez and went into the wall causing extensive damage to his front wing and suspension.

"It was an unfortunate incident," Servia said. "When Adrian decided to cut the chicane he hit me and sent me right into the way," he explained. "I feel bad for the whole Visteon/Patrick Racing Team and our sponsor Visteon. We had a good car for the race and I thought we had a good chance to win or at least finish on the podium," Servia noted. "This will mean a lot more work for the Visteon/Patrick Racing crew. They were going to have to change the car to an oval setup for Fontana, but now they also have to make the repairs. We have one more chance to win a race this season and I know that the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team will do whatever it takes to accomplish that goal," he concluded.

Servia has now finished in the points in 11 of the 18 races this season placing in the top-10 (read top-six) nine times, with seven top-five showings and three podium performances. He is seventh in the championship standings with 108 points.

Heading into the race the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team had made steady progress. Servia was 17th on the speed charts following Friday's first practice with a time of 109.041 seconds (92.277 mph). He jumped to third during the second practice with a quick lap of 95.366 seconds (105.509 mph). In the ten-minute warm-up prior to provisional qualifying Servia ran the tenth fastest time running a quick lap of 98.432 seconds (102.223 mph). Then in provisional qualifying he turned his fastest lap of the day running a quick time of 94.317 seconds (106.683 mph) placing him eighth on the provisional grid. However, he moved up to seventh when Alex Tagliani was under weight.

On Saturday, Servia continued to improve. He was sixth in the morning practice with a time of 94.052 seconds (106.983 mph). During the ten- minute warm-up prior to final qualifying, Servia turned the fastest lap of the session running a quick time of 94.925 seconds (105.999 mph). In final qualifying he turned his quickest lap of the weekend clocking a time of 92.731 seconds (108.507 mph) putting him sixth on the starting grid. The sixth place starting position was Servia's highest in four attempts at Surfers Paradise and the 17th time in 18 races that he has qualified in the top-10. Servia's best finish on the 2.795-mile, 11-turn Surfers Paradise temporary street circuit is ninth in 2000.

The 29-year old native of Spain has established a number of personal CART career records this season. Among the marks he has set are career high second place showings at Milwaukee and Montreal, a single season high nine top-10 placements, a single season high seven top-five showings and a single season high three podium finishes including consecutive podium performances (Montreal, second and Denver, third) for the first time in his career. The resident of Miami, Florida has also set personal CART career records for consecutive top-six finishes, seven, top-10 showings, seven and points paying performances, eight. In addition, he has earned career high qualifying positions at Montreal and Denver where he started second, qualified in the top-10 a CART career high 16 consecutive times, earned a single season high 17 top-10 starting positions and a single season high seven top-five starting positions.

Now in his fourth CART season and second with Visteon/Patrick Racing, Servia was making his 71st CART start and 28th for the team this weekend. He has earned 32 top-ten finishes including 13 top-five showings with four podium performances in 71 CART starts. In his 28 starts with Visteon/Patrick Racing, 10 in 2002 and 18 this year, Servia has finished in the points 16 times with 13 top-10 finishes, nine top-five showings and three podiums.

Next up for the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team is The Taco Bell 500, October 31 to November 2, at California Speedway in Fontana, California.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Adrian Fernandez , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia