Champ Car World Series Stars To Start 13th and 15th in Rolex 24 DAYTONA, Fla. (February 3, 2005) -- En route to Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford championships in 2002, 2003 and 2004, Cristiano da Matta, Paul ...
Champ Car World Series Stars To Start 13th and 15th in Rolex 24
DAYTONA, Fla. (February 3, 2005) -- En route to Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford championships in 2002, 2003 and 2004, Cristiano da Matta, Paul Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais usually found themselves at the sharp end of the grid when the green flags waved on race days.
Thursday brought the trio back to reality a bit, but still set them up in good position for Saturday's twice-around-the-clock Rolex 24 at Daytona after qualifying on the 3.56-mile road course at the Daytona International Speedway.
Bourdais was the only Champ Car driver that was in the cockpit for today's qualifying session, putting the #79 Silverstone Racing Ford Crawford into the 13th spot on the grid after turning a top lap of 1:48.466. The #79 car will also feature da Matta and Newman/Haas Racing co-owner Paul Newman in the endurance event, which begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
"We didn't expect to be on pole but I think that we will be OK for the race," Bourdais said. "We improved the grip in today's practice but we have some work to do. If we can have a car that stays consistent throughout the entire race, we should be in pretty good shape at the end."
Da Matta drove in today's practice but was in shorts by the time practice rolled around as he prepared for the 2 ½-hour trip to Sebring, where he will test his new PKV Racing Champ Car tomorrow. The Brazilian will be climbing in a Champ Car Friday for the first time since 2002 as he joins four other teams in an open test at Sebring.
Paul Tracy and his squad put their Bell Motorsports #54 Pontiac Doran into the 15th spot on the grid after a top lap of 1:49.366. Tracy drove in the morning practice as well, but was not in the car for qualifying. Tracy's mount is the same one that won the overall Rolex 24 title in 2004, and Tracy expects to have a chance to take the car back to Victory Lane when the checkered flag falls Sunday morning.
"I've been fortunate in my career to get myself in with good people and good teams and this is another example of that," Tracy said. "This is a professional team with a good setup and we expect to have a good chance to do well. For me, the power-to-weight ratio change from the Champ Car, which has more power and less weight, is the biggest difference to handle. But it's still a race car and you always seem to be fighting the same things in order to find speed."
Tracy and Bourdais will not be joining da Matta in his trip to Sebring, skipping the first major test of the 2005 preseason. Rocketsports, Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing, PKV Racing, and Newman/Haas Racing will be testing Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the short course at Sebring.