Cristiano da Matta is moving into uncharted territory at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, OH. He has, for the second week in a row, swept both provisional and final pole positions, starting first in the ...
Cristiano da Matta is moving into uncharted territory at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, OH. He has, for the second week in a row, swept both provisional and final pole positions, starting first in the #6 Havoline Lola/Toyota in Sunday's Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland. Touring the 2.106-mile runways and taxiways at 57.040 seconds (132.917mph), da Matta bested his Friday lap of the 10-turn circuit by more than half a second, leading Patrick Carpentier by .430 seconds today. Dario Franchitti, the defending race winner, was third in the #27 Team KOOL Green Lola/Honda with a lap of 57.482 seconds (131.895mph). The top 12 were within one second of da Matta.
"All year my car has been just awesome. We didn't make many changes from this morning (when he was quickest) because the car was so good," da Matta shrugged. "Four-tenths on this track is a big cushion. It's such a physically demanding track and it's very important to be aggressive on these high speed corners." Franchitti "unloaded very, very well from the transporter" this weekend. "This track is much faster since they shaved the bumps in turns 3, 4, 5 and 6. There are smoother transitions than before," the Scot revealed.
Christian Fittipaldi earned fourth starting spot in the #11 Lilly Lola/Toyota, at 57.499 seconds (131.856mph). "We were so very close that one lap but the car slid a little bit and that was the best I could do," he said. Michael Andretti's fifth on the grid in the #39 Motorola Lola/Honda showed his team continues to make the car comfortable for the aggressive American, who "got caught up in traffic on both runs."
Tony Kanaan starts sixth in the #10 Pioneer/WorldCom Lola/Honda after being in "a mess traffic-wise." Jimmy Vasser needed a bit more rear grip in the #8 Shell Lola/Ford and settled for 7th grid slot. Eighth went to the #4 Team Target Lola/Toyota and Bruno Junqueira, whose second-place point tally trails da Matta by 50 as of today. "I haven't had a great car this weekend, but we'll be fine in the race," Junqueira said. Disappointed teammate Kenny Brack (#12 Target Lola/Toyota) took ninth under partly cloudy and breezy conditions, with air temperatures of 80-82 and track temps of 97-104 degrees.
The 21st Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland, a long 115-lap contest, begins at 1:30pm EDT and is televised live by CBS Sports.