Da Matta gives Lola win ...
Da Matta gives Lola win #116; Nine of eleven finishers ride with Lola chassis.
Cristiano da Matta found Victory Lane in the Motorola 220 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI, leading Alex Tagliani to the checkered flags by a scant .805 seconds in his #6 Havoline Lola/Toyota. It was his sixth victory of the season. Patient this week, da Matta took a lead he wouldn't relinquish after the fourth and final round of pits stops in the 60- lap contest around this 4.048-mile road course. Bruno Junqueira, who held pole position in the #4 Team Target Lola/Toyota had a character-building day in which he led 14 laps yet finished third after a difficult final pit stop.
"I hoped to bump-start my rhythm here at Road America and finish the race. Forget about anything else," da Matta explained. "This morning the team decided we would take anything and bring the car home today." Tied with Patrick Carpentier for second in the title chase with 101 points, 42 behind da Matta, Junqueira "can't complain about the finish today. I had a really good car. I needed more fuel on the last stop so I couldn't get a run on Tag" at the end."
Tony Kanaan, who began the race in 18th and final spot after a difficult weekend during which he turned only 44 laps prior to the race, brought the #10 Pioneer/WorldCom Lola/Honda home in fourth place and said," For me this is a win. I told my guys this morning, 'just give me the car and I'll do the job'. The car was consistent all day long; I just drove it." Jimmy Vasser gained fifth place in the #8 Shell Lola/Ford from 15th grid spot, using a different pit strategy to gain positions on the circuit. "We were able to pass a few guys today and the pit stops were good."
That strategy worked for Christian Fittipaldi, who took sixth place in the #11 Lilly Lola/Toyota. Mario Dominguez, who trashed the #55 Herdez Lola/Ford in Saturday practice, pitted on the first, yellow lap and, despite stopping five times, came to the flags in eighth place. Michel Jourdain Jr. secured ninth place in the #9 Gigante Lola/Ford and has scored points in all 12 races, giving him 7th place in the season standings.
This Grand Prix of Road America featuring the Motorola 220 was held under picture- perfect conditions, with air temps between 80-83 and track temperatures of 103-107 degrees. Da Matta said it was a "very hard pace, like qualifying every lap. It was an extremely fun race to drive."
The CART FedEx Series travels to Montreal, Quebec, Canada next weekend for its first stop at the 2.747-mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, a permanent road course.