Da Matta, behind the wheel of the ...
Da Matta, behind the wheel of the #21 Bell Micro/PKV Racing entry, which is powered by Ford/Cosworth, uses a Lola chassis and runs on Bridgestone tires, turned a quick time in qualifying of 69.626 seconds (101.755 mph) on the 1.968-mile, 11 turn Long Beach temporary street circuit. The 31-year-old Brazilian was sixth on the speed charts following the morning practice session with a fast time of 70.436 seconds (100.585 mph). In the short, pre-qualifying afternoon practice/warm-up, da Matta ran only four laps posting a time of 71.889 seconds (98.553 mph), which placed him 16th on individual practice report and left ninth on the combined report.
"Obviously, the PKV Racing team didn't end up where we wanted, but we were able to run our fastest time of the day in qualifying," da Matta said. "I think we expected to be a little faster based on our pre-season testing, but we made a lot of changes between the morning practice and qualifying," he noted. We need to go back to the transporters tonight and analyze the data from the preseason testing then figure out where we go from here. But, I know the PKV Racing engineering staff already has some ideas of what we can do to make us more competitive in final qualifying tomorrow," da Matta concluded.
Da Matta, who is entering his fifth year of Champ Car competition, is the 2002 Series Champion and one of four former champions that will compete during the 2005 season. The resident of Miami, FL is contesting his first Champ Car event in three years after spending the last two seasons competing in Formula 1. Da Matta will be making his fifth Champ Car start on the Long Beach street circuit. In four previous races he has finished in the top-10 twice with a best showing of second in 2001. His best starting position is second in 2002. Da Matta's only victory at Long Beach came in 1998 when he won the Indy Lights Championship race in route to the 1998 Indy Lights title.
Vasser, who pilots the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine, had a fast lap of 69.739 second (101.512 mph) in qualifying. The 39-year-old native of California, who will be making his 198th consecutive Champ Car start (an ongoing Champ car record) on Sunday, began the day 12th on the speed charts after the morning practice with a quick time of 61.185 seconds (99.527 mph). In the afternoon warm-up before qualifying he had a tire puncture, which limited him to four laps of practice and a time of 72.449 seconds (97.790 mph). He ended up 18th on the individual practice report and 14th on the combined report.
"The PKV Racing team has a lot of work to do," Vasser began. "We definitely made progress today, but we have to keep working to make the cars more competitive, he said. "Cristiano (da Matta) and I will sit down with the engineering staff tonight and go over the data. I am confident that we will find some things that will improve the cars and I know we will be ready for tomorrow's final qualifying," Vasser concluded.
Vasser, who is contesting his 14th Champ Car season, is the 1996 Series Champion and one of four former champions and three Americans that will compete during the 2005 season. The resident of Las Vegas, NV joined PKV Racing last year in dual roles taking an ownership stake in the team as well as serving as a driver. Vasser will be making his 14th Champ Car start on in Long Beach. In 13 previous races he has finished in the top-10 a total of nine times including five top-five showings with three podium performances and a win in 1996. His captured the pole in 2002 the eighth, and most recent, of his Champ Car career.
PKV Racing will be making its fourth and fifth starts while competing in it third Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The teams best finished is 13th in 2003 (Patrick Lemarie) and its best starting position is 10th last year by Jimmy Vasser.
There will be another practice session tomorrow morning with final qualifying set for 2:00 p.m. The 2005 season opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be run on Sunday, April 10 at 1:00 p.m. (PT). The race will be broadcast live on NBC at 4:00 p.m. (ET).
For more information please visit: www.pkvracing.com or www.gulfstream.com.