Oriol Servia earns first top-ten starting spot with Visteon/Patrick Racing; qualifies ninth for tomorrow's Grand Prix at Road America. ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN -- SATURDAY, AUGUST 17, 2002 -- Round ...
Oriol Servia earns first top-ten starting spot with Visteon/Patrick Racing; qualifies ninth for tomorrow's Grand Prix at Road America.
ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN -- SATURDAY, AUGUST 17, 2002 -- Round #12 of the 2002 FedEx Championship Series - Oriol Servia earned his first top-ten qualifying spot in three attempts with Visteon/Patrick Racing and will start ninth in tomorrow's Grand Prix at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Servia, in the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing entry with Toyota power and Bridgestone tires, began the day ninth on the grid following yesterday's provisional qualifying with a time of 103.394 seconds (140.944 mph). During the 75-minute morning practice he only ran 20-minutes preferring to sit out while the track dried following a heavy rainstorm. Servia's fastest time in the morning session was 104.372 seconds (139.624 mph) placing him ninth on the individual practice report and tenth on the combined report.
In final qualifying the 28-year-old native of Pals, Catalonia, Spain came on strong improving his time by over .2 seconds, however the increased speed was not enough to move him up the grid. Servia was second fastest during the first stint of the qualifying session, but could not maintain the momentum on the second set of tires. His fastest time came on his third to last lap when he ran a quick time of 103.118 seconds (141.322 mph). The fast lap placed the resident of Miami, Florida seventh on the speed charts for the session, but when the times from yesterday were combined with today's he dropped back to ninth on the starting grid.
"The Visteon/Patrick Racing car was better today than yesterday, but I am still losing some time in two of the corners," Servia said. "On the rest of the track the car is very good so I think I have a very good race car. It is just a shame because we could be higher on the grid. I am just .2 of a second out of fourth place," he noted.
Servia, who ran the first three races of the season with PacWest Racing before joining Visteon/Patrick Racing for the last three events, qualified in the top-ten for the first time in six attempts this year. He also earned his highest starting position in three attempts at Road America. Today's ninth place qualifying spot is the sixth time in 12 races that Visteon/Patrick Racing has qualified in the top-ten. Their best starting position is fifth at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Servia has steadily improved both his qualifying and finishing positions since joining Visteon/Patrick Racing in Vancouver on July 30. He qualified 15th for the Molson Indy Vancouver and finished 14th after a gearbox problem ended his day while running in ninth place. Two weeks later, at the CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, Servia qualified 12th and finished tenth. Hopefully, the pattern will continue with today's ninth place qualifying effort.
"The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team is making progress every weekend," Servia said. "We just have been looking for bigger gains then we are currently making. It is tough. The FedEx Championship Series is very competitive. Each day the team is getting closer to being consistently in the top-five, but it is that last bit which puts you over the top that is the hardest to find," he explained. "Everybody on this team is working together and pushing hard to improve. It's not just me. The engineers, the mechanics, Jim McGee and certainly Mr. Patrick are all trying everything possible to win and that makes things a lot easier," Servia concluded.
Servia, who is currently in 19th place in the championship standings with 16 points, has finished in the points in four of his five starts this year placing in the top-ten three times with a best showing of sixth at the Bridgestone Potenza 500 in Motegi, Japan. In addition to his two starts with Visteon/Patrick Racing he has qualified 11th and finished 13th at the Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix, started 13th and finished 11th at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and qualified 20th in Japan where he placed sixth. All three races were run with PWR before the team ceased operations.
Servia, who is in his third CART season (45 starts), has finished tenth in both his previous starts on the 4.048-mile, 14-turn Road America permanent road circuit, (2000 - qualified 14th, finished tenth; 2001 - 18th and tenth). Meanwhile, Patrick Racing, which is making its 27th appearance at Road America, has now qualified in the top-ten 16 times and in the top-five eight times. Their best starting position is fourth in 1982, '86, '88 and '98. In 26 previous races at Road America the team has finished in the top-ten 13 times, with eight top-five showings including two wins (Emerson Fittipaldi in 1986 and 1988).
The Grand Prix at Road America will be televised on Sunday, August 18 at 3:00 PM (ET) on Speed Channel. The pre-race show will air from 2:30 - 3:00 PM (ET).