Rain Wreaks Havoc on Cleveland Grid Max Wilson aims to continue strong show with third-place start for Lola Weather alongside Lake Erie dominated the proceedings as 26 Champ Cars vied for pole position in Sunday's Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland...
Rain Wreaks Havoc on Cleveland Grid
Max Wilson aims to continue strong show with third-place start for Lola
Weather alongside Lake Erie dominated the proceedings as 26 Champ Cars vied for pole position in Sunday's Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland presented by Firstar. For CART's 20th visit to the Burke Lakefront Airport venue, the clouds parted just as the second, normally quicker group of cars prepared to qualify. There was no opportunity for those 13 drivers to best the times put up by Group One, leaving Mauricio Gugelmin with his first pole since setting a (now eclipsed) speed record at Fontana in 1997. Second went to Adrian Fernandez.
Once again, rookie Max Wilson showed his prowess in his #25 winnerB2B.com Lola/Ford, driving to third place on the grid with a lap of 57.892 seconds (130.961mph) around the 2.106-mile, 10-turn runways and taxiways. "We struggled a bit during practice, since neither I nor the team have ever been here before. We played around with the car a lot during practices," Wilson admitted. He gained 1.5 seconds from Friday to the morning practice that prefaced qualifying, but thought he could have been quicker then. "We didn't put new tires on because we started with new tires and nobody else did.
We saved them for the race." In qualifying, "the big change in our team's package came into play. We have new people and a new engine (Ford-Cosworth).
Our guys have worked hard since the beginning of he year and last weekend (he was fourth in Portland) helped our morale a lot."
Qualifying was a morale-booster for Memo Gidley and the #12 Team Target Lola/Toyota crew as well. In his second race with Chip Ganassi's group, Gidley claimed fifth starting spot with a lap of 57.916sec/130.907mph.
"This is the best qualifying effort of my CART career," he crowed. "I am very happy with our run today. We were second for most of the session and I was hoping we could finish there. We weren't very fast yesterday and then Team Target gave me a very competitive car for our qualifying today. We should also have a very good race car for tomorrow," Gidley contended.
There were four Lola B1/00 racers in the top twelve, consisting totally of Group One drivers. CART FedEx point leader Kenny Brack starts 17th in the #8 Shell Lola/Ford, while his closest pursuer, Helio Castroneves, is gridded 23rd.
Scattered showers and temperatures that paralleled this afternoon's thunderstorms and rain are predicted for Sunday's 100-lap race, which begins at 1pmEDT and will be shown live on ABC-TV. Firestone Tire engineers reported ambient temps of 85-86 degrees for Group One qualifying (track temps ranged from 109-118), while ambient temps dropped to 81-85 degrees for Group Two and track temps ranged from 92-103 degrees.
-Lola Cars International Ltd.