Visteon/Patrick Racing's Oriol Servia qualifies second for tomorrow's Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver DENVER, COLORADO - SATURDAY, AUGUST 30, 2003 -- Round ...
Visteon/Patrick Racing's Oriol Servia qualifies second for tomorrow's Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver
DENVER, COLORADO - SATURDAY, AUGUST 30, 2003 -- Round #15 - 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season - Visteon/Patrick Racing driver Oriol Servia will start on the front row for the second consecutive race after qualifying a CART career high tying second for tomorrow's Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver in Denver, Colorado.
Servia, behind the wheel of the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing entry, which is powered by Ford/Cosworth and uses a Lola chassis with Bridgestone tires, had the fastest time of today's qualifying session and the second fastest time overall running a quick lap of 61.477 seconds (96.446 mph). His fast lap was just .039 seconds off the pole time, set in yesterday's qualifying, by Bruno Junqueira.
The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team started the day ninth on the grid following yesterday's provisional qualifying with a time of 62.303 seconds (95.167 mph). During today's morning practice the team got an indication that the car was improved when Servia notched a quick lap of 61.256 seconds (96.794 mph) placing him fourth on both the individual and combined practice reports.
Final qualifying began with light rain, but heavier showers threatening. The qualifying session was again run in a single car format with each driver getting three laps. The lineup was determined by the reverse order of yesterday's qualifying, so Servia went out 11th. Despite the unfavorable weather it quickly became apparent that the track was faster than the previous day. Servia, who made the biggest gain of the faster cars, picking up over a second, also benefited from a bit of luck. He was on the top of the speed charts for the session, with the second fastest time of the two qualifying sessions and just four cars remaining in line. Paul Tracy was the first of the four and appeared to be running a very fast lap when he spun. Darren Manning took his turn, but came up short. Then, while Adrian Fernandez was making his run the heavy rain began. At that point Fernandez had no chance of going faster than Servia and Junqueira, who had the pole sown up, decided not to risk damaging his car and declined the opportunity to run. That left Servia with the quick time of the session, one championship point and a front row starting position.
"Yesterday I wasn't really happy with the Visteon/Patrick Racing car and I wasn't happy with myself," Servia began. "Today, I really feel I tried my best and I was very happy with the car. The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team knew we had improved the car starting with this morning's practice and I was looking forward to qualifying. I thought we had a chance to move up on the grid, but I didn't really expect to end up on the front row."
Commenting on the single car qualifying format Servia said, "I like the single car qualifying, but I think we need to do some fine-tuning to it. I don't think three laps are enough, at least at this track. Here you are really guessing when you brake going into a corner because the tires are not up to temperature and you aren't sure how they are going to react."
Servia went on to say, "The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team took a big step forward today. We put ourselves in a position to have a chance to win the race tomorrow. It is going to be a very tough race. The track is very slippery and it is easy to make a mistake. It is also very difficult to pass on this circuit, but fortunately for me, right now I only have to pass one car."
Today's qualifying effort continues to add to a string of accomplishments that have already made the 2003 season a breakout year for Servia. The 29- year-old native of Spain, who qualified on the front row, lining up second, for the first time in his four-year CART career last weekend in Montreal, has now qualified in the top-five a career high six times. He also extended his CART career high streak of top-10 starts to 15. Servia is the only driver to have qualified in the top-10 in every race this season. In addition to the qualifying records, Servia has earned his CART career best finish placing second twice (Milwaukee and Montreal). He has established single season CART career marks for top-10 finishes with eight, top-five showings, six and podium performances, two. Servia has also set career records for consecutive top-six finishes, seven, top-10 showings, seven and points paying performances, eight. The resident of Miami, Florida has finished in the points in ten of the 14 races this year and placed in the top-six in eight of his last 11 events. He is sixth in the championship standings with 77 points.
Servia will be making his 68th career CART start, 25th for Visteon/Patrick Racing and second at Denver. In 67 previous CART starts, he has earned 31 top-ten finishes including 12 top-five showings with three podium performances. In 24 starts with Visteon/Patrick Racing, 10 in 2002 and 14 in 2003, Servia has placed in the points 15 times with 12 top-10 finishes, eight top-five showings and two podium performances. He qualified 13th and finished 11th at last year's inaugural Denver Grand Prix.
The Grand Prix of Denver will be televised tape delay on Speed on Sunday, August 31, at 9:30 PM (ET). The pre-race show will begin at 9:00 PM (ET).