TROIS-RIVIERES, Que., Canada (Aug 1, 2003) - There is room for improvement but one thing is clear - Dorricott Racing's Luis Diaz, of Mexico City, is looking strong and confident after "Day One" at Trois-Rivieres. This weekend's...
TROIS-RIVIERES, Que., Canada (Aug 1, 2003) - There is room for improvement but one thing is clear - Dorricott Racing's Luis Diaz, of Mexico City, is looking strong and confident after "Day One" at Trois-Rivieres.
This weekend's race is round eight of the 12-race Toyota Atlantic Championship. The 45-lap (68.445 mile) sprint around the historic 1.521-mile, 10-turn temporary street circuit is set to begin at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Aug. 3, and is a featured race for the 35th annual La Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres
Friday's 30-minute morning practice began on schedule at 9:25 a.m. (ET) and concluded at 9:55 a.m. Skies were partly cloudy with an ambient temperature of 75 degrees and a track temperature of 79 degrees Fahrenheit. No major incidents were reported albeit former Dorricott Racing driver Kyle Krisiloff brought out a red-flag at 9:37 a.m. when he made contact with the tire barrier in Turn Seven. Krisiloff was uninjured Another red flag was issued for Stephan C. Roy with nine minutes remaining in the session when his car lost power and slowed to stop.
Practice, however, was highly productive for Diaz as he powered the Telmex Swift 014a to the session's sixth fastest time at 1:00.664 (90.261 mph). Michael Valiante took practice honors at 0:59.930 (91.367 mph). The time differential between second fastest Aaron Justice and the proceeding four drivers including Diaz was fractions over six-tenths of a second.
Provisional qualifying found a better gripping track as other race series had practiced and laid down significant rubber between Atlantic sessions. The session began on schedule at 2:55 p.m. (ET) and concluded 30 minutes later. Skies were sunny and temperatures crept into the low 80s with mild southerly breezes.
Diaz continued to test the limits of his car to the track before taking a mid-session pit stop for fresh tires. Soon after, Diaz was running consistently improving times and spotted as high as fifth fastest and getting faster before he met two obstacles beyond his control.
First, Diaz began negotiating the Trois-Rivieres corners so well that he kept catching annoying slow backmarkers.
Second, Jonathan Macri pushed his car too far near the end of the session. With four minutes remaining in provisional qualifying and Diaz starting to threaten the fastest cars, Macri lost control entering the front straight-away and violently crashed into the outside wall. Macri's car suffered extensive "tub" and suspension damage to the nose and right side but Macri walked away uninjured but stunned. He was running second fastest at the time. Toyota Atlantic officials issued a "red" flag and "checkered" the session short.
Diaz's time at that moment was seventh fastest at 1:00.515 (90.483 mph). However, Macri is expected to lose all of his timed laps for Saturday's final qualifying session, as he will probably be forced to compete the remainder of the weekend in his backup machine. Macri was the only driver to bring out the red flag in the first qualifying session.
With a the national weather service calling for rain on Saturday, it is also likely that Diaz will start in row three for Sunday's race. A.J. Allmendinger won the pole with a track record 0:59.296 (92.343 mph). The differential between second place and sixth is barely one-half of a second.
"My times started dropping when we changed to fresh tires," said Diaz. "Unfortunately, I ended up behind slow traffic on many of what would have been faster laps. I wasn't able to find a clear lap when my car was at its best. One thing is certain. The car is good and getting better. Our set-up is very good and only needs a little fine tuning. We can go faster than the time I posted but those backmarkers really cost me. Depending on Saturday's weather, we should be even more competitive in final qualifying."
Saturday's schedule calls for a 30-minute practice session beginning at 9:10 a.m. ET, and will be followed by final qualifying from 2:40 - 3:10 p.m. ET. Live Timing & Scoring data from every session is available on the official web site of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, www.toyotaatlantic.com.
Speed Channel will provide a LIVE telecast of the Toyota Atlantic Championship race from Trois-Rivieres beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET (10:00 a.m. PT), Sunday, Aug. 3.