CHAMPCAR/CART: Gold Coast Saturday track notess

Good Morning from soggy Surfers Paradise for the final day of qualifying for Sunday’s Honda Indy 300! The second of the three low pressure systems from the Tasmanian Sea has made it’s arrival on the Gold Coast, raining off and on...

Good Morning from soggy Surfers Paradise for the final day of qualifying for Sunday’s Honda Indy 300! The second of the three low pressure systems from the Tasmanian Sea has made it’s arrival on the Gold Coast, raining off and on all night. The downpours only hesitated at 7 a.m. to allow the teams and workers of the FedEx Championship Series to run from the hotels surrounding the track and cover approximately half the distance to Pit Road before resuming the deluge, making sure everyone starts the day dripping wet. Ponding water could be a concern today for the morning practice session, scheduled for the Green Flag at 10 a.m. and on track for 75 minutes, followed by the final round of qualifying at 1:45 p.m. These are the times that the glamour of international auto racing takes a backseat to guts and determination to put on the show.

There are a few carryover penalties for today’s sessions. #25 GARCIA Jr. will serve an eight minute delay-of-session penalty at the end of this morning’s session. #6 ANDRETTI will serve the same eight-minute penalty at the end of the final round of qualifying as well. That means you will see ANDRETTI go for broke with his first set of tires, trying for the Pole-winning lap in the first six to eight laps of the Group Two session.

At 9 a.m., the rains stopped completely and the sun peeked out to start drying out the track. At 9:50 a.m., the rains returned, swamping the track as the teams scramble for cover. And, of course, all teams will be on rain tires for the 10 a.m. start of the session.

At 10 a.m., the scheduled start of the session is delayed to allow track workers to remove some tree debris that had just fallen on the track due to the strong winds accompanying the latest squall line crossing the race track.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:01 a.m. to start the morning practice session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) and an ambient temperature of 69 degrees F. (20 degrees C). Surface condition flags are flying around the course due to the rain and debris from the trees laying on course.

RED FLAG waves at 10:03 a.m. after a fence sign blows onto the track at Turn 7. CART corner workers dispatch around the track to clean the debris that has blown onto the track.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:09 a.m. to resume the session.

At 10:10 a.m., ten minutes into the session, no cars have yet logged an official lap due to the storm damages around the course. Only five to six cars have even taken to the track due to the conditions, with the remainder of the competitors waiting for better weather.

At 10:12 a.m., #96 SERVIA spins at Turn 3 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 10:15 a.m., the rain has stopped and the wind has subsided with the sun again beaming down on the track. The course is still very wet but the competitors are slowly building speed.

At 10:20 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #96 SERVIA with a lap of 82.953 mph (2:01.298) on his fifth lap, followed by #33 TAGLIANI (82.908 mph; 2:01.363; fourth lap) and #2X de FERRAN (82.268 mph; 2:02.268; first lap). This is the first appearance of the secondary car in the weekend’s sessions for Provisional Pole sitter de FERRAN. Only seven cars have registered times in the session so far.

At 10:25 a.m., patches of dry pavement begin to show in the groove at various spots around the track.

At 10:30 a.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #33 CARPENTIER with a lap of 85.874 mph (1:57.172; seventh lap), followed by #96 SERVIA (84.133 mph; 1:59.596; sixth lap) and #2X de FERRAN (82.295 mph; 2:02.268; first lap). The wind has now picked up again and coupled with the full-strength sunshine, the track is drying out quickly. Eleven drivers are now logging laps at speed. Notable exceptions are #1 MONTOYA, #3 CASTRONEVES, #6 ANDRETTI, #7 PAPIS, #8 BRACK, #12 VASSER, #20 MORENO, #27 FRANCHITTI, #40 FERNANDEZ, and #97 da MATTA.

At 10:40 a.m., 40 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #26X TRACY with a lap of 87.619 mph (1:54.838) on his third circuit, followed by #2X de FERRAN (87.592 mph; 1:54.873; seventh lap) and #33 TAGLIANI (86.869 mph; 1:55.829; eighth lap).

At 10:50 a.m., 50 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #8 BRACK with a lap of 94.105 mph (1:46.923) on his second circuit, followed by #96 SERVIA (89.684 mph; 1:52.194; 15th lap) and #55 KANAAN (89.203 mph; 1:52.799; first lap).

At 10:54 a.m., #96 SERVIA brushes the wall at Turn 1 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

RED FLAG waves at 10:55 a.m. after #10 BRIGHT spins exiting the Turn 1 chicane and stalls in the middle of the track. CART safety workers quickly tend to the car and get the engine refired and BRIGHT continues to his Pit Box.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:59 a.m. to resume the session.

At 11 a.m., one hour into the session, the fastest driver is still #8 BRACK with his earlier lap of 94.105 mph (1:46.923) from his second circuit, followed by #6 ANDRETTI (92.060 mph; 1:49.298; third lap) and #96 SERVIA (89.684 mph; 1:52.194; 15th lap). Most drivers are now going to dry slicks but #5 NAKANO, #7 PAPIS, and #12 VASSER have still not made an appearance in the session. #2 de FERRAN pulls on course in his primary car for the first time in the session.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 11:07 a.m. to #25 GARCIA Jr. to pit his car for the remainder of the session, serving his carryover penalty from yesterday morning’s session.

Also at 11:07 a.m., #32 CARPENTIER brushes the wall at Turn 3 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 11:10 a.m., 70 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #12 VASSER with a lap of 104.235 mph (1:36.532) on his second circuit, followed by #5 NAKANO (104.397 mph; 1:36.382; eighth lap) and #8 BRACK (103.862 mph; 1:36.879; 10th lap).

RED and CHECKERED FLAGS wave at 11:14 a.m. after #96 SERVIA slides across the Turn 3 left- hand corner and makes hard contact with the right front of the car against the tire barrier. The driver is uninjured in the incident but the car sustains a broken right front wheel and damage to the right front wing and nose assembly. At the same time, #33 TAGLIANI slides into the run-off at Turn 4 and stalls the car. Also, side-to-side contact is reported between #40 FERNANDEZ and #1 MONTOYA entering Turn 12, Station 8. Both drivers continue on course without apparent damage.

The top four drivers are separated by less than one second in lap times with the top seven drivers separated by less than two seconds. Secondary cars were utilized by #2X de FERRAN and #26X TRACY. The drivers turned 224 laps in the session.

FIANL QUALIFYING

As the Green Flag for the final round of qualifying approaches, the skies are crystal blue with nothing but sunshine on the track. But it is all courtesy of a strong 25 mph (40 kph) north wind which blew out the offending rains of the morning. The wind will be pushing the cars down the front straight, and create a headwind on the back beach straight.

Two drivers will be serving delay-of-session penalties in the last eight minutes of the Group Two session today. #6 ANDRETTI and #8 BRACK will sit down with eight minutes to go for separate incidents from the Provisional round Friday.

GREEN FLAG waves at 1:45 p.m. to start the Group One qualifying session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 103 degrees F (39 C) and an ambient temperature of 80 degrees F (26 C) at the start of the session.

RED FLAG waves at 1:51 p.m. after #19 BARRON slides into the run-off at Turn 12, Station 8, making contact with the right side of the car against the concrete wall. The driver is uninjured in the incident but the right side suspension is severely damaged. BARRON will receive an eight minute delay-of-session penalty to be assessed at the restart of the session.

GREEN FLAG waves at 1:54 p.m. to resume the session.

At 1:55 p.m., 10 minutes into the Group One session, the fastest Group One driver is #33 TAGLIANI with a lap of 102.810 mph (1:37.870), followed by #18 BLUNDELL (99.542 mph; 1:41.083) and #19 BARRON (95.413 mph; 1:45.457). None of the top three Group One drivers have bettered their times from yesterday’s Provisional round of qualifying.

At 1:56 p.m., #40 FERNANDEZ slides into the run-off at Turn 12, Station 8 but keeps the engine running and continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

RED FLAG waves at 1:59 p.m. after #25 GARCIA Jr. slides into the runoff at Turn 4 and stalls the car. CART safety workers quickly get the car refired and GARCIA Jr. continues to his Pit without apparent damage to the car. GARCIA Jr. will receive the standard eight minute delay-of-session penalty to be assessed at the resumption of the session.

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:02 p.m. to resume the session.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 2:05 p.m. to #34 MARQUES for a Pit Road speed violation incurred at Pit Out. MARQUES subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

Also at 2:05 p.m., 20 minutes into the Group One session, the fastest Group One driver is now #17 GUGELMIN with a lap of 103.682 mph (1:37.047), followed by #33 TAGLIANI (102.810 mph; 1:37.870) and #16 JOURDAIN Jr. (102.360 mph; 1:38.300).

BLACK FLAG is shown at 2:10 p.m. to #34 MARQUES after CART course observers report a hot smell from the car while at speed on course. MARQUES subsequently pits the car with a small fire showing at the rear of the car.

At 2:12 p.m., #40 FERNANDEZ spins at Turn 17, Station 11 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 2:13 p.m., #40 FERNANDEZ pulls off course at Turn 2 and stalls the car.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 2:15 p.m. to end the Group One session with the fastest Group One driver #3 CASTRONEVES with a speed of 107.645 mph (1:33.474) improving on the grid from 14th to 7th. Second-fastest is #33 TAGLIANI with a lap of 107.015 mph (1:34.024) improving from 22nd to 13th. Third fastest is #96 SERVIA with a lap of 106.975 mph (1:34.059), improving from 20th to 14th.

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:30 p.m. to start the Group Two session.

At 2:35 p.m., #27 FRANCHITTI spins at Turn 4 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 2:40 p.m., 10 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest Group Two driver is #6 ANDRETTI with a lap of 105.439 mph (1:35.430), followed by #2 de FERRAN (104.138 mph; 1:36.622) and #7 PAPIS (103.515 mph; 1:37.203).

RED FLAG waves at 2:41 p.m. after the strong winds on the front straight rip loose a banner which then piles up in the middle of the track. CART Pit Road officials retrieve the banner.

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:43 p.m. to resume the session.

RED FLAG waves at 2:44 p.m. after #11 FITTIPALDI loses control under heavy braking at Turn 12, Station 8, turning sharply to the right and makes hard contact against the outside wall with the right side of the car. FITTIPALDI comes to rest in the run-off with the right front wheel laying behind the car and the brake rotor on fire in the wheel. FITTIPALDI is uninjured in the incident but the car sustains heavy damage to the entire right side. FITTIPALDI will be assessed an eight minute delay-of-session penalty at the drop of the Green Flag.

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:49 p.m. to resume the session.

At 2:50 p.m., 20 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest Group Two driver is still #7 PAPIS with a lap of 105.857 mph (1:35.053), followed by #2 de FERRAN (105.765 mph; 1:35.135) and #11 FITTIPALDI (105.628 mph; 135.259).

RED FLAG waves at 2:52 p.m. after #6 ANDRETTI stalls on course with a gearbox problem at the entrance to Turn 4. ANDRETTI was due on Pit Road to serve his carryover eight minute delay-of-session penalty from yesterday’s Provisional round and therefore, the driver’s qualifying is over with a sixth place on the grid.

Also at 2:52 p.m., #8 BRACK pulls on Pit Road to serve his carryover eight minute delay-of-session penalty from yesterday’s Provisional round and the driver’s qualifying is over.

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:57 p.m. to resume the session. An extra 2 minutes, 15.028 seconds will be added to the scheduled 3 p.m. end of the Group Two session to give the competitors the guaranteed 20 minutes of Green Flag qualifying, as per CART qualifying rules.

At 3:01 p.m., the penalty assessed to #11 FITTIPADLI expires but the driver will not be entering the secondary car as there is too little time left to mount a serious charge for qualifying improvement.

Also at 3:01 p.m., #55 KANAAN slides into the run-off at Turn 3 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 3:01:45 p.m., #1 MONTOYA flashes across the line with the fastest lap of the weekend at 109.460 mph (1:31.924) on his ninth lap of the session to take the Pole.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 3:02:15.028 p.m. to end the Group Two session.

At 3:03 p.m., #2 de FERRAN retakes the Pole with a lap of 109.576 mph (1:31.827) on his 10th lap of the session. But MONTOYA is still on course on a flyer lap and crosses the line seconds later retaking the Pole with a lap of 109.701 mph (1:31.722) on his tenth lap. JUAN MONTOYA takes the Pole for Sunday’s Honda Indy 300! The top four drivers are separated by less than one second with the top nine drivers separated by less than two seconds. No secondary cars were employed by the drivers in either Group session. The drivers turned a combined 220 laps during the sessions.

JUAN MONTOYA wins the Pole for Sunday’s Honda Indy 300 by virtue of his 109.701mph (176.509 kph)-lap in his Target Chip Ganassi Toyota Lola. MONTOYA’s series-leading seventh Pole of the season is the 14th of his career and ties him for fourth on the all-time Poles-Won list with Bobby Unser. This is also MONTOYA’s ninth front row start of the season.

GIL de FERRAN sits second on the starting grid with his 109.576 mph (176.307 kph)-lap in his Marlboro Team Penske Honda Reynard. This is de FERRAN’s ninth front row start of the season.

DARIO FRANCHITTI will start third in tomorrow’s race after his 109.299 mph (175.863 kph)-lap in his Team KOOL Green Honda Reynard. This is FRANCHITTI’s seventh consecutive qualifying effort among the top four starting spots.

Today represents the seventh Pole of the season for Toyota, snapping a four-year Pole-winning streak for Honda at Surfers Paradise.

Quotes from the top three qualifiers follow:

JUAN MONTOYA: "It's really, really good. On just my second lap I went out and went as fast as I did yesterday, but there were lots of red flags. We came in and just improved the car as much as we could. If you can do one lap, you can do two, there's no magic. You've just got to go out and go as fast as you can and try to do it better than the last time. This is my last road course here, and I'm really glad to be on the pole."

GIL de FERRAN: "Those were exciting times. I knew I lost the pole because (team owner) Roger (Penske) said so on the radio, but I didn't know how much I needed. I had a little too much oversteer, but I still did a (one minute) :32.8 (second lap). I hoped that would be enough. There was silence on the radio for a few seconds and then came back and told me Juan got the pole. I just didn't have enough. Every point counts and if I won the pole today I would be 20 points ahead instead of 19 points ahead. It's important, but it didn't happen today. I still feel like I have to race hard. I still feel I have to have good finishes and win races. I don't think playing the percentages is going to help me too much."

DARIO FRANCHITTI: "The conditions were definitely difficult because of all the rain. We really weren't able to do anything this morning in the rain, so when we went out to qualify it was a bit of a guess. Then it was red flag, red flag, red flag. I went out and did a pretty good lap and I thought that would be about the maximum of what I could get out of the car. But on my last lap I was going even quicker, and then I just made a mistake, so that was a bit frustrating. But the car's a lot better today than it was yesterday, so I'm looking forward to the race."

This concludes the track for today from Surfers Paradise. We’ll see you tomorrow morning for the final practice session and finally, the running of the Honda Indy 300!

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bobby Unser , Chip Ganassi
Teams Team Penske