CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto: PKV Racing Saturday report

PKV RACING'S VASSER TO START SEVENTH, DA MATTA EIGHTH IN TOMORROW'S FOR MOLSON INDY TORONTO TORONTO, CANADA -- SATURDAY, JULY 9, 2005 -- Round ...

PKV RACING'S VASSER TO START SEVENTH, DA MATTA EIGHTH IN TOMORROW'S FOR MOLSON INDY TORONTO

TORONTO, CANADA -- SATURDAY, JULY 9, 2005 -- Round #6 -- 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing's Jimmy Vasser qualified seventh and teammate Cristiano da Matta eighth for tomorrow's Molson Indy Toronto at Exhibition Place in Toronto, Canada.

Vasser, in the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone car, had a fast lap of 59.256 seconds (106.622 mph) while da Matta, who pilots the #21 Bell Micro/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone entry clocked in at 59.372 seconds (106.414 mph). This is the fifth consecutive race that both PKV Racing drivers have qualified in the top-10 missing out only at the season opener in Long Beach, the season's only other true street race.

Vasser, who was sixth on the grid following Friday's provisionally qualifying with a time of 59.507 seconds (106.172 mph), experimented with some changes to his car in morning practice. Although the results were not immediately apparent they did help in developing the set-up for final qualifying. The popular and respected 39-year-old Californian checked in with a fast lap of 60.291 seconds (104.792 mph) in the morning practice, which placed him eighth on both the individual and combined practice reports. In the 15 minute warm-up prior to final qualifying, Vasser ran just four laps He pitted after the short stint with a quick time of 60.985 seconds (103.599 mph) and decided not to return to the track because he felt the car was ready to qualify.

"The PKV Racing team has made a lot of gains with our street circuit program," Vasser said. "We are definitely more in the hunt then at Long Beach, but we still have some areas where we need to improve," he noted. "Seventh and eighth on the grid is not where we want to be, but we can compete for the podium from the fourth row because I feel we have good car. The PKV Racing team is moving in the right direction, but we just have to stay with it and continue to improve," Vasser concluded.

Vasser, who is competing in his 14th Champ Car season, will be making his 224th career, record 203rd consecutive and 14th start in Toronto tomorrow. He has now qualified in the top-10 seven times in 14 tries at Exhibition Place. In 13 previous races in Toronto he has finished in the top-10 seven times, including two podium performances with a best showing of second in 2004. The resident of Las Vegas, NV has qualified in the top-10 in five consecutive races and five of the six events this year including taking the first pole in PKV Racing's history (Milwaukee). He has finished in the top-six in three consecutive races including a season high fifth at Milwaukee (sixth at both Portland and Cleveland) and in the top-10 in four of the first five events this year. Vasser has finished 139 of his last 179 races and placed in the top-10 in 127 of his 223 events including 63 top-five showings. The 1996 Series Champion, who is the only owner/driver, one of four former champions and three Americans competing in the 2005 Champ Car World Series, is currently sits fifth in the championship race with 82 points.

Da Matta began the day fourth on the grid following yesterday's provisional qualifying with a fast lap of 59.372 seconds (106.414 mph). In morning practice he and the Bell Micro/PKV Racing crew did not experiment as much as his teammate with the car, but continued to develop the qualifying and race set-up from the previous day. The talented and determined 31-year-Brazilian notched a quick lap of 60.522 seconds (104.392 mph) in the morning session placing him ninth on the speed charts. He also remained ninth on the combined report based on his afternoon practice time from yesterday which was clocked at 60.499 seconds (104.431mph). In the afternoon warm-up da Matta turned a fast time of 60.203 seconds (104.945mph). The time placed him seventh on the individual practice report, but left him ninth on the combined report. In final qualifying da Matta was unable to improve on yesterday's time and will line up beside his teammate in row number four.

"The Bell Micro/PKV Racing team did not make as much progress from yesterday to today as we would have liked," da Matta began. "The track changed a little and we just couldn't follow up on the changes we made to the car today," he explained. "The PKV Racing team has a lot more work to do before tomorrow's race, but I am confident that the engineering staff will come up with something to improve the car," da Matta concluded.

Da Matta, who is contesting his fifth Champ Car season, will be making his 85th career start and fifth in Toronto tomorrow. He has now qualified in the top-10 in three of five attempts at Exhibition Place with one pole in 2002 and a second place starting position in 2000. In his four previous races in Toronto the resident of Miami, FL has finished in the top-10 twice including a win in 2002 and a fourth place showing in 2000. Da Matta will be looking to take back-to-back wins on a track that he is not the defending champion for the third time this season. In 2002, he won from the pole in Portland, Monterrey and Toronto. This year da Matta qualified ninth and finished sixth in Monterrey then qualified 10th and finished first in Portland.

Da Matta, who has now qualified in the top-10 at all six events this year including twice in the top five (the second place starting position in Cleveland followed by a fourth in Milwaukee), will be looking for another strong race day performance tomorrow. He has been exceptionally strong in the last two races earning PKV Racing's first victory three weeks ago in Portland then at Cleveland he was not only leading, but pulling away from the field before an unfortunate incident knocked him from the race. Da Matta has finished in the top-10 in three of the five races placing 10th in Long Beach and sixth in Monterrey to go with the win in Portland. The 2002 Series Champion, who is one of four former champions and three Brazilians competing in Toronto, is sixth in the championship standings with 80 points.

PKV Racing will be making its fourth and fifth starts while competing in its third race in Toronto tomorrow. The team has now qualified in the top-10 three times in five attempts with Vasser's seventh place starting position their highest. In three previous starts (two races) the team has a best finish of second also by Vasser last year.

After the first five races of the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series season, PKV Racing has already established a number of team records. Da Matta scored the team's first victory in their two plus year history in Portland while Vasser earned the team's first pole in round #3 at Milwaukee. The two drivers have combined to set team records for best combined qualifying, first and fourth at Milwaukee and best combined finish, first and sixth at Portland. They have both qualified in the top-10 in five consecutive races for the first time in team history. Da Matta and Vasser have finished in the top-10 in the same race twice (eighth and 10th at Long Beach and first and sixth at Portland) this year and at least one of them has placed in the top-six in each of the last four races, which is also a team record.

The Molson Indy Toronto, July 8-10, on the temporary street circuit at Exhibition Place will be televised live on CBS beginning at 12:30 p.m. (ET).

-pkv-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Cristiano da Matta