CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland: PKV Racing Saturday summary

PKV RACING'S ORIOL SERVIA QUALIFIES SEASON HIGH FOURTH FOR CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF CLEVELAND CLEVELAND, OHIO -- SATURDAY, JUNE 24, 2006 -- Round ...

PKV RACING'S ORIOL SERVIA QUALIFIES SEASON HIGH FOURTH FOR CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF CLEVELAND

CLEVELAND, OHIO -- SATURDAY, JUNE 24, 2006 -- Round #6 -- 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing's Oriol Servia qualified a season high fourth for tomorrow's Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Ohio.

Servia, who improved his starting position by three places from yesterday's provisional qualifying, drove the #6 Gulfsteam -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone entry to a quick time of 56.855 seconds (133.350 mph) and will start on the outside of Row #2. Meanwhile, teammate Katherine Legge, who had to battle back from an incident in the morning session, posted a final qualifying lap of 58.048 seconds (130.609 mph) in the #20 Bell Micro -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone placing her 14th on the starting grid and on the outside of Row #7.

Servia was seventh on the grid following yesterday's provisional qualifying with a fast lap of 57.782 seconds (1131.210 mph). However, he noted at the time that he felt the car was a top-five qualifier. Determined to fulfill those expectations, the 31-year-old Catalun and his Gulfstream -- PKV Racing crew worked late into the evening yesterday reviewing data and making changes to the car. The extra effort paid off immediately when Servia showed an increase in speed during this morning's practice. He was sixth on both the individual and combined speed charts after the morning session with a fast lap of 57.752 seconds (131.279 mph). During the 15-minute afternoon pre-qualifying/warm-up the team continued to fine tune the car as Servia ran nine practice laps turning a quick time of just 58.136 seconds (130.411 mph), which placed him ninth on the individual practice report. He dropped to seventh on the combined report. In qualifying, the Gulfstream -- PKV Racing team waited until there were 20 minutes left in the session before going out for their first stint in an effort to get the most out of the track. Running a full seven lap stint, Servia posted a fast time of 56.950 seconds, which placed him second at the end of the run. For the second stint, the team again waited until the last possible moment, turning Servia loose with just 6:40 remaining and seven laps to run. After adjusting his track position to get clear space, Servia began to build speed and on lap seven of the stint and the 14th and final lap of his qualifying run he turned in the his best lap of the weekend.

"I am very happy, very happy with the performance of the Gulfstream -- PKV Racing car in final qualifying," Servia began. "Things are starting to look more the way we like it. The computer screens after the qualifying session today looked much better," he noted. "This is what the team needed after last weekend, which was very difficult for us because we had the incidents and we didn't have the speed. Then we only had a week to put three cars together and the PKV Racing crew did a great job. I expected it from them, but I am also very proud of them," Servia said. "The biggest thing this weekend is that we are just working step by step, improving every session, which is the way we usually do things. We didn't get impatient and didn't let the expectations get to high. It is very competitive out there. It feels like everybody is pushing more than ever--all the team all the drivers are really picking it up and it is really hard to get into the top-six in any session. I am just very happy with the way things went today," he concluded.

Servia has now qualified in the top-10 three times in six attempts on the 2.106-mile, 10-turn Burke Lakefront Airport temporary street circuit. Today's fourth place starting position ties his previous high in Cleveland first established in 2003. However, it has been in the races the Servia has really shined on the airport runway. In five previous contests he has finished in the top-six three times, all in the last three years, starting with a sixth place showing in 2003, followed by a fourth in 2004 and culminating with a podium finish last year when he finish third and scored the races fastest lap.

Servia, who is campaigning in his sixth event for PKV Racing has now qualified in the top-10 five times in six attempts this year. In addition to today's fourth place starting stop he has qualified seventh twice (Milwaukee and Monterrey, Mexico) and eighth twice (Long Beach and Houston). Servia has finished in the top-10 in three of the five races this year and is working on a streak of three consecutive top-10 finishes having placed eighth in Monterrey, a season high fifth in Milwaukee and 10th in Portland. After starting the season last in the points after a first lap incident at Long Beach knocked him out of the race, Servia has steadily climbed in the standings and is now tied for 10th with 59 points. He is listed 11th behind Bruno Junqueira who owns a fourth place finish to Servia's fifth in the tie-breaker system.

Now in his seventh Champ Car season, Servia, who will be making his 104th career start tomorrow. He has earned 54 top-ten finishes including 26 top-five showings, 12 podium performances and one victory (Montreal 2005). The resident of Miami, Florida, who has finished in the top-10 in the standings the last three years, is coming off his best Champ Car season placing second last year.

Legge was 13th on the provisional grid with a time of 58.722 seconds (129.110 mph) following Friday's qualifying. In morning practice the 25-year-old Brit, who was determined to crack the top-10, clocked a time of 59.634 seconds (127.136 mph) on her fourth lap before skidding off the track and into the tire barrier in Turn #8. The Bell Micro -- PKV Racing crew immediately set about repairing the damage and by afternoon warm-up were ready to put their work to the test. In the warm-up, following a few reconnaissance laps to make sure everything was functioning properly, Legge was back up to speed turning a fast lap of 58.522 seconds (129.551mph) placing her 12th on the individual practice report (her highest position of the weekend) and leaving her 15th on the combined report. Legge began her qualifying effort with 25 minutes remaining in the session and after her first stint sat fifth on the speed charts with a lap of 58.587 seconds. After a change of tires the team waited until there were 12 minutes remaining before sending Legge out for her final attempts. On her 14th and final lap Legge posted her fastest lap.

"I was disappointed with qualifying because the Bell Micro -- PKV Racing car is better than where we qualified," Legge said. "I think it was one of those situations where I never got track position. I would have the first four laps clear and then, when I should have been running my fastest laps, I would run into traffic. I thought we should easily be in the top-10 with the car we've got. It is just disappointing because I didn't get any clear laps at the end of my runs," she explained. "I am also disappointed because the Bell Micro -- PKV Racing crew did a great job getting the car back together after the misdemeanor earlier today. The car is a good race car, so I am confident that we can have a good race tomorrow," Legge concluded.

Legge, who is in her first Champ Car season, will be making her sixth Champ Car start and first in Cleveland (although she raced there twice last year in the Atlantic Championship Series starting fifth and finishing 16th in the first race and starting fourth and finishing fifth in the second).

The 25-year-old Brit's 14th place qualifying position today is her best road/street course starting spot in six attempts (15th twice, Houston and Portland; and 17th twice, Long Beach and Monterrey, Mexico). She has now qualified in the top-10 once this season, a career high eighth in Milwaukee. However, Legge has been much more competitive in the races. She has finished in the top-10 twice placing a season, and career, high sixth at Milwaukee and eighth in her Champ Car debut at Long Beach. In Houston, she was headed for another top-10 finish, when she was hit by another competitor and eventually placed 14th. Legge was also 14th in Monterrey after a questionable penalty was accessed for blocking while she was running 13th. She is currently 13th in the championship standings with 57 points. The resident of Indianapolis, Indiana remains second in the Champ Car rookie points, but now trails Dan Clarke by one point, 58-57 (she came in trailing Will Power by one point, 50-49).

-pkv

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Oriol Servia , Katherine Legge , Will Power , Daniel Clarke