Sebastien Bourdais captured pole position for the Tecate Telmex Grand Prix with a blistering track record time of 1:14.938 seconds (101.076 mph) at the Monterrey, Mexico circuit. This gives Bourdais two poles in two tries, coming on the heels of...
Sebastien Bourdais captured pole position for the Tecate Telmex Grand Prix with a blistering track record time of 1:14.938 seconds (101.076 mph) at the Monterrey, Mexico circuit. This gives Bourdais two poles in two tries, coming on the heels of his similar success at St. Petersburg in his inaugural Champ Car season for Newman Haas Racing.
Although the French rookie stumbled in the St. Pete race, he has been fastest in nearly every session since he sat in the Lilly Lola at his first public practice in Laguna Seca. After today's session, he admitted: "It's such a big surprise all the time to be so much on the pace. I just can hope it will be like this all season long."
Paul Tracy will start on the outside of the front row, having locked in the spot with the fastest time in yesterday's first qualifying round. Tracy did not turn a lap in today's session after his car was heavily damaged in an accident in the practice session this morning. The Champ Car series rules would have allowed him to run today's round in his backup car, but that would have meant abandoning his front row guarantee, a risk he understandably avoided.
Two other drivers had to use their Friday times: Tracy's teammate, Patrick Carpentier, missed most of the Saturday morning session and all of qualifying with a nasty virus that caused vision problems for him. If he recovers enough to start tomorrow's race, he will start 15th in the 19-car field. If not, CART veteran driver Max Papis will be standing by to fill his seat in the Forsythe Lola.
Jimmy Vasser will also need to use his Friday time. Like Tracy, the driver for American Spirit Team Johansson damaged his car in the earlier session and the team could not repair the damage in time for the qualifying session. Vasser will start 16th with his first-day time.
Alex Tagliani cranked off a very quick lap at the very end of the qualifying period, fast enough to top everyone but Bourdais. He will start third in the Rocketsports Lola.
Oriol Servia will start outside of Tagliani on the second row. He led the timesheet in the morning practice session and held the top spot this afternoon for much of the session. Unfortunately, he finished his allotted laps too soon on the ever-quicker temporary circuit, and both Bourdais and Tagliani outran him after he finished his session.
Michel Jourdain Jr. won the battle to be the top Mexican driver on the grid, not a minor goal for the four drivers racing before a large crowd of highly partisan home-country fans. After running with the fast guys all weekend, he was pleased to be starting near the front, saying: "It is always our goal to qualify in the top five and this is two straight races that we have done so. The top five is where you want to be to start the race."
Sharing the third row with Jourdain will be last year's Monterrey polesitter, Adrian Fernandez. While all the cars struggled for grip on the smooth surface, Fernandez' had trouble with oversteer as he could not get the rear tires to stick.
In seventh spot on the race grid will be Bourdais' Newman-Haas teammate, Bruno Junqueira. Junqueira was fast in the early laps of the qualifying session, but first suffered a spin and later had trouble with traffic on a flying lap and will start three rows behind Bourdais.
Following eighth-qualified Mario Dominguez to the green flag will be five members of CART's large 2003 class of Champ Car rookies. Ryan Hunter-Reay (Vasser's teammate at ASTJ) will start ninth, fastest of the drivers in Reynard chassis, followed by Tiago Monteiro and Mario Haberfeld, both in Reynards out of the Conquest Racing garage. Patrick Lemarie had his best qualifying session to date for the 12th spot and Walker Racing's Darren Manning will go off 13th after a transmission failure limited his qualifying run to just four laps.
Former F1 driver, Malaysian Alex Yoong, will start in 17th for his first Champ Car race, just ahead of fellow rookies Rodolfo Lavin and Joel Camathias.
The Tecate Telmex Grand Prix, round 2 of the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, will start Sunday afternoon at 2:30 pm. EST. US television coverage will begin at 2 pm on SPEED Channel.