CHAMPCAR/CART: Denver: Patrick Racing Friday qualifying report

Visteon/Patrick Racing has solid qualifying effort at inaugural Shell Grand Prix of Denver. Servia seventh on provisional grid. DENVER, COLORADO -- FRIDAY, AUGUST 30, 2002 -- Round ...

Visteon/Patrick Racing has solid qualifying effort at inaugural Shell Grand Prix of Denver.

Servia seventh on provisional grid.

DENVER, COLORADO -- FRIDAY, AUGUST 30, 2002 -- Round #14 of the 2002 FedEx Championship Series - Visteon/Patrick Racing had a solid first day at the inaugural Shell Grand Prix of Denver on the temporary street circuit in Denver, Colorado as driver Oriol Servia qualified seventh on the provisional grid.

Servia was somewhat surprised at today's effort following a rocky morning practice that saw him place 15th on the speed charts. The 28-year-old native of Pals, Catalonia, Spain ran a fast time of 64.545 seconds (90.467 mph) in the morning session, which was plagued by red flags as drivers battled the slippery surface and familiarized themselves with the new circuit.

"It was so slippery out there this morning, and bumpy, that every five minutes someone was going off course," Servia said. "It was hard to control the car on the track and with all the red flags it was impossible to get into a rhythm. But, every time the cars go out, in fact every lap we are on the track, it gets better," he noted.

In the afternoon, CART's new qualifying procedures were, once again, slightly altered. The rules now call for a ten-minute practice, followed by ten minutes of down time and then a 40-minute qualifying session with each team permitted to run 15 laps.

During the ten-minute afternoon practice Servia was 14th on the speed charts for the session with a time of 65.779 seconds (90.138 mph), but remained 15th on the combined report because of his morning time.

In qualifying both the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team and driver shined. Servia ran a fast lap of 63.158 seconds (93.882 mph) and probably would have been slightly faster, but he lost two timed laps at the end of the session when Tony Kanaan crashed sending parts across the track. As a result the session was red flagged and then the checker was thrown.

"I am very happy," Servia said, with a grin on his face. "In the morning the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team was a little bit behind. But, our engineering staff, led by Technical Director Ed Nathman, did a great job improving the car. Also the track was better in the afternoon. There was more rubber down so there was a lot more grip, so you could brake later in the corners. The Visteon/Patrick Racing car was very good in qualifying...seventh is a lot better than 15th. We just need to improve the car a little more for tomorrow's final qualifying," he concluded.

Servia, who is in his third CART season (47 starts), is competing in his fifth event for Visteon/Patrick Racing and eighth of the 2002 FedEx Championship Series season. The resident of Miami, Florida ran the first three races of the 2002 season with Pac West Racing before signing with Visteon/Patrick Racing at the end of July. He has finished in the points in four of his seven starts this year and in the top-ten three times including a season best sixth place showing in Japan. Servia has qualified in the top-ten just once, the ninth place starting position last week in Elkhart Lake, while Visteon/Patrick Racing has qualified in the top-ten in six of the 12 races this year. Servia is currently 19th in the championship race with 16 points.

In his four races with Visteon/Patrick Racing, Servia has been very competitive, however a series of incidents have conspired to keep him from finishing among the leaders. In his debut at Vancouver, he was in ninth place and moving up when a mechanical problem knocked him from the competition placing him 14th. The next week In Mid-Ohio, Servia was looking at a possible top-six finish, but yellow flags foiled a solid pit strategy and he finished tenth. At Road America, Servia qualified ninth and was having an outstanding race, running as high as fifth, when a fuel pressure problem robbed him of a top-five finish and dropped him into 16th place. Last week in Montreal, he was in the top-six on the practice reports in every session. Then in final qualifying an engine let go. Starting 14th Servia was running in 12th place when a half shaft broke ending his day in 16th place.

The Shell Grand Prix of Denver will be televised live on Sunday, September 1 at 3:00 PM (ET) on Speed Channel. The pre-race show will air from 2:30 - 3:00 PM (ET). Speed Channel will also televise Saturday, August 31, qualifying live from 3:30 - 5:00 PM (ET)


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Kanaan , Oriol Servia