CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach: Patrick Racing Saturday report

Visteon/Patrick Racing's Servia qualifies eighth for tomorrow's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA -- SATURDAY, APRIL 12, 2003 -- Round ...

Visteon/Patrick Racing's Servia qualifies eighth for tomorrow's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA -- SATURDAY, APRIL 12, 2003 -- Round #3 - 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season - Oriol Servia qualified his #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing car eighth on the grid today and will start on the outside of Row #4 in tomorrow's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on the temporary street circuit in Long Beach, California.

Servia drove his Ford/Cosworth powered, Bridgestone shod Lola chassis to a fast lap of 68.821 seconds (102.945 mph), which was over .7 of a second quicker than his provisional qualifying time. However, he fell one spot on the grid from seventh to eighth. The eighth place starting position is the 28-year-old Spaniard's best in four attempts at Long Beach. It also extended his streak of consecutive top-10 qualifying positions to a Champ Car career high of three. Servia has now qualified in the top-10 in the first three races of the 2003 Champ Car season.

Things did not look good for the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team when the day began. In morning practice the team appeared to be struggling as Servia placed 14th on the individual and combined practice report with a time of 70.165 seconds (100.973 mph). After extensive evaluation of the data the team made some changes and in the 10-minute practice prior to qualifying, Servia top the speed charts with a quick lap of 69.374 seconds (102.125 mph). The fast time placed him seventh on the combined practice report.

During qualifying Servia ran consistently in the top-10 mainly bouncing between sixth and eighth place. After the first stint the team made a major change to the car and while Servia was not able to dramatically improve his position he did post his fastest time. Additionally, the overall effect to the handling of the car gave him a lot of confidence heading into tomorrow's race.

"I am a little disappointed because I was hoping to qualify the Visteon/Patrick Racing car further up the grid," Servia began. "We had a better car for qualifying in the first two races. Here at Long Beach it was a little harder for the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team to find the right setup," he noted. "We definitely made a big improvement this afternoon from yesterday, and this morning's practice. The car is much better. It is not a pole car, but I think if we had one more practice session that third on the grid was a realistic target," Servia explained. "Eighth position is not where the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team wanted to start, but we can race from there and I think we have a good shot at a podium finish. It is going to be a long race tomorrow and it may rain, so a lot of things can happen," he concluded.

Servia, who is competing at Long Beach with his fourth different team, has finished in the points twice with a best showing of sixth. In 2000 he started 21st and finished sixth with PPI Motorsports. He qualified 24th and finished 14th in 2001 with Sigma Autosport and then qualified 13th and finished 11th in 2002 driving for PacWest Racing.

Patrick Racing will be making its 26th start at Long Beach. The team has now qualified in the top-10 a remarkable 19 times in 26 attempts. In their previous 25 races they have finished in the points 14 times with eight top- 10 showings and six top-five performances. The team's best finish is second (Fittipaldi - 1985 and Scott Pruett - 1995).

In addition to his eighth place starting position here in Long Beach, Servia has qualified ninth at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and fourth at the Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix. The fourth place qualifying position in Monterrey was the second highest of his Champ Car career (qualified third at the 2001 Texas race, which was cancelled) and equaled his best career starting position (Nazareth - 2001). Servia has finished in the points in one of the first two events placing 12th at St. Petersburg.

Servia is competing in his fourth Champ Car season and second with Visteon/Patrick Racing. He will be making his 56th career CART start and 13th with the team tomorrow. The resident of Miami, Florida has finished in the points in six of his 12 starts for Visteon/Patrick Racing with four top-10 finishes and two top-five performances. In 55 Champ Car starts, Servia has earned 23 top-ten finishes including six top-five showings and one podium, a career best third place performance at the 2000 Detroit Grand Prix.

The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be televised live on Speed Channel. Saturday, April 12, qualifying will be aired live from 4:30 PM (ET). The pre-race show will begin at 3:30 PM (ET) on Sunday, April 13, with the race shown live beginning at 4:00 PM (ET).

For background, statistical information, releases, notes, quotes plus updates on race weekends, go to (www.patrickracing.com

-pr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Oriol Servia , Scott Pruett