CHAMPCAR/CART: Vancouver: Newman/Haas Friday qualifying report

Lilly driver Fittipaldi set fifth fastest lap in provisional qualifying for the Molson Indy Vancouver; Chevron driver da Matta hindered by problems in practice and qualifying and set 16th fastest time. CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, ...

Lilly driver Fittipaldi set fifth fastest lap in provisional qualifying for the Molson Indy Vancouver; Chevron driver da Matta hindered by problems in practice and qualifying and set 16th fastest time.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "We had two or three more tenths (of a second) in the car but I couldn't get a clear lap. It was rush hour at B.C. Place. We have a good baseline so hopefully we can continue to improve for final qualifying when the track is faster. The end of the session was too busy with all of the cars on track at once trying to get a clear lap. You'll probably see a few more cars go out earlier tomorrow but the end of the session will still be the prime time for setting a fast lap as long as no one brings out the red flag."

· NOTES: Will be his seventh event here. Highest finish was 3rd in 1996 and highest start was 6th in 2000. Finished 11th in 2001 despite utilizing a strategy that should have led to a fourth place finish but was effected by the timing of yellow flags; finished 4th in 2000; was unable to compete in 1999; finished 14th in 1998 due to contact late in the race with Hearn while running 6th; finished 9th in 1997 because of contact on the last lap after running 5th; finished 3rd in 1996 after starting 14th; and finished 24th in 1995 as a result of exhaust failure. He is currently in 7th place in the point standings, only 63 points back from leader and teammate Cristiano da Matta.

CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Chevron Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "We had some fuel pressure problems in the morning practice session and we changed a lot of components in the car but still couldn't find the problem. We hardly ran many laps in the session and I was going to have to wait until qualifying to re-learn the track. After my first lap (in qualifying) the problem came back and we had to switch to the back-up car. I couldn't get a clear lap - not even one. I also never got into a rhythm to get a good lap time. The worst thing is that I don't even have any information to tell the engineers about the car so they can improve it and keep up with everyone else's improvements for tomorrow without being one day behind. It's the first time in my life that I am going back to the hotel without having any idea of how to improve the car. I spent the whole day at the track and I have no idea how my car is running, what the tires are doing. We need to go out tomorrow and put a good time in the bank. We can't get too crazy with any changes because we need to be conservative. We definitely need to go out earlier here because there is a greater chance of the session begin stopped by a red flag."

· NOTES: Da Matta has won seven of past 11 CART events dating back to his first three-peat (Australia and Fontana in 2001 and Mexico in 2002) where he became the first driver to accomplish the feat since Juan Montoya (1999). After leading 30 laps and building a strong lead in Long Beach, a pit accident derailed his bid for a CART record-tying fourth consecutive win. Wins in Laguna Seca, Portland, Chicago and Toronto enabled him to tie two others (Unser, Jr., and Zanardi) with a CART record fourth consecutive win although he failed to score a fifth consecutive win in Cleveland after being sidelined with mechanical failure after leading the first 19 laps from pole. A win in Vancouver would be his eighth in the past 12 races. Will be his fourth CHAMP CAR race here. Led 3 laps in 2001 but finished 20th after being forced to enter a "closed" pit or risk running out of fuel while leading. Once back on track, he was given a drive-through penalty then came into contact with a backmarker while attempting to pass him and finished 20th. Finished 7th in 2000 after running in third until he had to pit for fuel with only five laps to go; finished fifth in 1999 after starting 17th. Clinched the Indy Lights Championship here in 1997 and 1998. He is currently leading the standings with a total of 120 points.

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW: The morning practice session will take place from 10-11:15 AM PST which will be followed by a one-hour final qualifying session from 1:45-2:45. SPEED channel will televise qualifying live.

-nhr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Cristiano da Matta