CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland: Patrick Racing/Servia Thursday practice summary

Visteon/Patrick Racing's Servia third on speed charts following night practice for Cleveland Grand Prix CLEVELAND, OHIO -- THURSDAY, JULY 3, 2003 -- Round ...

Visteon/Patrick Racing's Servia third on speed charts following night practice for Cleveland Grand Prix

CLEVELAND, OHIO -- THURSDAY, JULY 3, 2003 -- Round #9 - 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season --

Visteon/Patrick Racing driver Oriol Servia was third on the individual practice report following the second night practice session for Saturday night's Cleveland Grand Prix on the Burke Lakefront Airport runway temporary street circuit in Cleveland, Ohio.

Earlier in the day, Servia qualified the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing entry, which is powered by Ford/Cosworth and uses a Lola chassis with Bridgestone tires, fourth on the provisional grid with a time 59.186 seconds (128.098 mph).

Teams went out for their first night practice at 8:00 PM and ran for 50 minutes. During the first session Servia notched a quick lap of 59.175 second (128.122 mph), which put him sixth on the individual practice report for the session and sixth on the combined report for the day. Much of the improvement in speed could be attributed to more grip on the track and cooler weather however, there was no question that the Visteon/Patrick Racing car was definitely improved.

The second practice, which was run under what will be race conditions, dark skies with the artificial lamps providing the only light, began at 9:40 PM.

During the break the Visteon/Patrick Racing engineering staff made some more changes to the car and the results were obvious. Servia ran his quickest lap of the day, or for that matter night, turning a fast time of 59.039 seconds (128.417 mph). The quick time put him third on the individual practice report, but dropped him one spot on the combined report to seventh.

"Racing at night here in Cleveland is fun," Servia said. "You get behind another car and you see sparks and the red glow of the brakes. You feel part of something very cool," he commented. "It was our first time out on this circuit under the lights and I think they need to improve the lighting a little bit. There are a couple of corners where you can't see very well.

In Milwaukee, for the drivers, it was like racing in daylight, no problems. Here you had a feeling that there was something not right. They just need to do a little adjusting to the lights and I think everything will be fine," Servia noted.

Servia went on to say, "The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team gave me a good car today for qualifying and for tonight's practice sessions. I go quicker on old tires, so we need to work on our speed on new tires for final qualifying tomorrow. Overall, I am happy with the Visteon/Patrick Racing car for the race because it is definitely quick on old tires, which is important in the race."

Final qualifying will be held on Friday night at 8:20 PM (ET). While the skies will not be totally dark, it should prove to be a very interesting and exciting session especially after the number of off-track excursions that took place this evening.

Servia, who is competing at Cleveland for the third time in a Champ Car, is trying to continue his CART career high streak of eight consecutive top-ten starting positions this weekend. Servia's best previous starting position at Cleveland is 11th in 2000. His best starting position this season is fourth at Monterrey and Brands Hatch. Servia's highest career CART qualifying position is third at Texas in 2001, however the race was cancelled. His highest CART career starting position is fourth at Nazareth in 2001, Monterey and Brands Hatch this year.

Servia has finished in the top-six a CART career high five consecutive times, placed in the top-ten a career high tying five straight times and finished in the points a career high six straight times. He has also set a career high for number of top-five finishes in a season at four and earned his best career CART finish placing second at CART's inaugural night race in Milwaukee. Servia has finished in the top-five in four of his last five races and scored points in seven of the eight events this year. He is sixth in the standings with 58 points.

Servia will be making his 62nd career CART start and 19th for Visteon/Patrick Racing this weekend. In 61 career CART starts, with four different teams over three plus seasons, he has earned 28 top-ten finishes including ten top-five showings with two podium performances. However, it has been with Visteon/Patrick Racing that Servia has blossomed as a driver and found a home. In his 18 starts with the team, 10 in 2002 and eight this year, Servia has finished in the points 12 times with nine top-10 finishes including six top-five showings and one podium (Milwaukee).

Patrick Racing will be making its 31st start at Cleveland. In 30 previous events the team has qualified in the top-10 a total of 15 times with one pole (Roberto Moreno in 2000). They have finished in the top-10 a total of 17 times including nine top five showings with two wins (Emerson Fittipaldi in 1987 and 1989).

The U. S. Bank Presents The Cleveland Grand Prix will be televised tape delayed on CBS on Sunday, July 6 at 3:30 PM (ET). Speed Channel will air qualifying live on Friday, July 5, beginning at 8:00 PM (ET).

-pr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Roberto Moreno , Oriol Servia , Emerson Fittipaldi