(Toronto, Ontario) July 11, 2003- David Martinez of Monterrey, Mexico, took the pole position in first-round qualifying for Sunday's Barber Dodge Pro Series race in Toronto with a lap of 1:26.900 seconds on the 1.755-mile temporary street circuit.
(Toronto, Ontario) July 11, 2003- David Martinez of Monterrey, Mexico, took the pole position in first-round qualifying for Sunday's Barber Dodge Pro Series race in Toronto with a lap of 1:26.900 seconds on the 1.755-mile temporary street circuit. Colin Fleming of North Hills, California, secured second place on the provisional grid with a time that was just .049 seconds slower than Martinez, as Dan Di Leo of Markham, Ontario took third position with his best lap time of 1:27.257 seconds.
Championship points leader Leo Maia secured fourth on the provisional grid, with Nelson Philippe fifth, followed by Memo Rojas and Burt Frisselle. German Quiroga, who finished a career-best third in the last round, qualified his Gigante machine in eighth, with Antoine Bessette and Scott Poirier rounding out the top ten.
The half-hour qualifying session followed a brief thunderstorm which doused the track as the field was equipped with the Michelin SX rain tire to cope with the precipitation. The session ran under green conditions until the twenty-sixth minute, when the red flag was brought out to end the session after Greg Long, of Markham, Ontario, spun and suffered car damage.
The provisional pole position is the second of the season for David Martinez, who is now guaranteed a front-row starting position in Sunday's race.
" I really like this track, and I wanted to do well in this session since I don't have any experience on the track when its dry, so it was important to score the pole today so I could secure the front row starting position and then concentrate more on getting set up for the race rather than worrying about the second qualifying," said Martinez. "I like this track a lot, it keeps you busy all the time, and I find it to be a little like the Monterrey track that way, so I am having fun out there."
Martinez scores one championship point for his effort, breaking him out of a tie with countryman Memo Rojas for third in the championship, impressive given that Martinez did not join the championship until the second round in Monterrey Mexico.
"I know Leo Maia has a big gap over everyone, but you know there is a lot of racing yet to do, and maybe my charge for the championship can start here," said Martinez.
Fleming stood atop the timing charts at the midpoint of the session, and retook the top spot with less than five minutes remaining, only to be bested by Martinez, who was just .049 seconds faster in the changing and difficult conditions. Despite not taking the pole, Fleming is enjoying his first visit to Toronto.
"I don't have much experience with running on the street tracks, so I'm happy with my qualifying," said the Barber Champ Car Scholarship driver. "I have to say congrats to David, he did a really great job. I can't believe the red came out when it did, but that's just racing and I will have another chance at the pole tomorrow. This track is really interesting because some of the apexes have the curbing on it, so you can be a bit more aggressive here than you could at St. Pete."
Dan Di Leo, who has finished on the podium in two of the last three races, feels as though he has an advantage on the rest of the field as he prepares for the final round of qualifying tomorrow.
"Its too bad the session ended early, but I am feeling good about the car, and where we are at this point in the weekend," said Di Leo. "I have more experience on this track than the other guys, so that gives me confidence, and to put in a good time under such difficult and changing conditions, that is very satisfying for me. I am looking forward to tomorrows qualifying now so I can get myself up on the front row for the start."
When asked about the pressure he feels from racing in his hometown as he works to reduce the points gap to Leo Maia in the points, Di Leo shrugs it off and instead insists that it makes him a better racer for it.
"I enjoy the pressure that's on me to perform well here in my home race," said Di Leo. "I am a professional race car driver, and the pressure is part of the job, and it definitely pushes me to perform at the highest level I can."
The Toronto round is the first of three races which comprise the Dodge Trans-Canada Challenge, a championship consisting of the three Canadian events, Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, which will award the driver with the best results in the three events with a significant scholarship towards future Barber Dodge Pro Series races. Final qualifying will take place Saturday at 11:30 a.m. EST.