Visteon/Patrick Racing's Oriol Servia qualifies 14th for tomorrow's Rockingham 500. CORBY, ENGLAND -- SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2002 -- Round ...
Visteon/Patrick Racing's Oriol Servia qualifies 14th for tomorrow's Rockingham 500.
CORBY, ENGLAND -- SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2002 -- Round #15 of the 2002 FedEx Championship Series - Visteon/Patrick Racing driver Oriol Servia qualified 14th today for tomorrow's Rockingham 500 at Rockingham Motor Speedway in Corby, England.
Servia, who recently signed to pilot the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing entry with Toyota power and Bridgestone tires, for the remainder of the 2002 FedEx Championship Series season, will start on the outside of Row Seven.
With a shortened race weekend, two days instead of the usual three, Friday, morning began with a two hour and 15 minute practice. Servia and the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team worked diligently throughout the morning practice looking for a setup that would give the car the proper balance around the 1.5-mile Rockingham D-shaped oval. By the end of the session the 28-year-old native of Pals, Catalonia, Spain had a fast lap of 25.141 seconds (211.782 MPH), which put him 16th on the practice report. However, in an indication of how incredibly close the times were, Servia was only .33 of a second off the fastest time set by Alex Tagliani at 24.811 seconds.
In qualifying, Servia went out for his qualifying attempt, but on his fourth, and last, warm-up lap came back into the pits because the car had too much oversteer (loose). After some minor adjustments the team got back in line and after the last driver, Tagliani, made his first attempt, Servia was back on track. However, because he had started a qualifying attempt earlier, even though he did not take the green flag, he was permitted only one timed lap instead of the normal two, after his four warm-up laps. Taking the green flag Servia ran a fast time of 25.292 seconds (210.517 mph), which was just .38 of a second off the pole time.
"The Visteon/Patrick Racing car was a little too loose during the first attempt," said General Manager Jim McGee. "We took a stab at it, but we weren't happy with how the car was handling so we came back in. We wanted to give Oriol every chance of qualifying up front, so we decided to come in and try again at the end of the session," McGee explained.
Servia said, "The Visteon/Patrick Racing car was perfect in our second qualifying attempt. The first time out the car was a little too loose so we came in and made a couple of small adjustments. During my second run I was flat (accelerator pedal all the way down) all the way around the track. The car was very nice, perfect, we just didn't have enough speed."
Servia, who is in his third CART season (48 starts), is competing in his sixth event for Visteon/Patrick Racing and ninth of the 2002 FedEx Championship Series season. He has now qualified in the top-ten once in six attempts with Visteon/Patrick Racing and once in nine attempts this year. Visteon/Patrick Racing has now qualified in the top-ten in six of 15 races this year.
Servia began the year running the first three races with Pac West Racing then sat out the next six contests before joining Visteon/Patrick Racing for a five-race trial beginning in Vancouver. The resident of Miami, Florida has finished in the points in five of his eight starts this year and in the top-ten three times including a season best sixth place showing in Japan. He is currently 19th in the championship race with 18 points.
In his five starts with Visteon/Patrick Racing, Servia has been very competitive, however, "bad luck" has prevented him from finishing among the leaders. In his
Visteon/Patrick Racing debut in Vancouver he was running in ninth place when a mechanical problem knocked him from the race placing him 14th. At Mid-Ohio, Servia had the fastest lap for much of the race and was looking at a possible top-six finish, however, yellow flags foiled a solid pit strategy and he finished tenth. At Road America, Servia qualified a season high ninth. He was running as high as fifth, with the fourth fastest lap, when a fuel pressure problem robbed him of a top-five showing. He finished in 16th place. In Montreal, Servia was as high as third on the practice reports but had an engine let go in final qualifying. In the race he was running in 12th place when a half shaft broke following his first pit stop dropping him to 16th. Two weeks ago at Denver, Servia was running as high as seventh when he began experiencing a problem with second gear. His race was further hampered by a late yellow flag and he finished 11th.
This will be Servia's second start at Rockingham. Last year, at the inaugural Rockingham 500, he started 18th (starting grid was based on points because rain cancelled qualifying) and finished tenth. Visteon/Patrick Racing ran three cars at last year's event. Jimmy Vasser finished seventh, Townsend Bell, 12th and Roberto Moreno, 13th).
The Rockingham 500 will be televised live on Saturday, September 14 from 8:30 - 11:00 AM (ET) on Speed Channel. The pre-race show will air from 8:00 - 8:30 AM (ET).
For background, statistical information, releases, notes, quotes plus updates on race weekends, go to (www.patrickracing.com