Da Matta and Fittipaldi lead Lola troops; take second and third in shortened CART qualifying. Fastest in morning practice, Cristiano da Matta tried for pole position today, but was unable to capitulate in provisional qualifying. CART's point ...
Da Matta and Fittipaldi lead Lola troops; take second and third in shortened CART qualifying.
Fastest in morning practice, Cristiano da Matta tried for pole position today, but was unable to capitulate in provisional qualifying. CART's point leader set a quick lap in the #6 Havoline Lola/Toyota of 67.095 seconds (121.154mph) on his third of nine timed laps for Sunday's CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio at the 2.258-mile road circuit. Da Matta's best wasn't good enough to top Patrick Carpentier, and he settled for second place, just .055 seconds in arrears. Teammate Christian Fittipaldi was third in the #11 Lilly Lola/Toyota, lapping at 67.436 seconds (120.541mph), his best tour coming on his seventh of nine laps. CART permits a total of 15 qualifying laps.
On a sunny and warm (76-degree) day in the rolling Ohio hills, da Matta's quest for pole position fell prey to a red flag that fell with less than two minutes remaining in the hour- long session. Serious competition did not begin until 40 minutes were complete and, as da Matta remarked, "I really think I had the car" to take pole position, but "everyone's going to do the same thing and go out" at the close of the session. "This track is more sensitive than other road courses," he acknowledged. Fittipaldi was more succinct: "This is what happens in a turbulent session" when all drivers are on-course at the same time.
Lola drivers occupy fifth, sixth and seventh places on the provisional grid. Tony Kanaan earned fifth in the #10 Pioneer/WorldCom Lola/Honda, lapping at 67.515 seconds (120.400mph), remarking his car was "better than the time we ended up with." Scott Dixon gained sixth spot with his tour of 67.668sec/120.128mph in the #44 Target Lola/Toyota. Two-time Mid-Ohio winner Michael Andretti, who led the time sheets with 15 minutes remaining, retained seventh place in the #39 Motorola Lola/Honda, cutting a lap of 67.714 sec/120.046mph. "We unloaded in pretty good shape today and seem to be right in the ballpark," Andretti said.
Kenny Brack (#12 Target Lola/Toyota) and Bruno Junqueira (#4 Target Lola/Toyota) rounded out the top ten. Twelve drivers drove within one second of the leader's lap time. Similarly sunny conditions are expected for Saturday's final qualifying session, which commences at 1:45pm EDT and will be carried live on Speed Channel. The live telecast of Sunday's 92-lap race is on CBS Sports.