MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2003 -- Round ...
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2003 -- Round #17 - 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season - Visteon/Patrick Racing driver Oriol Servia failed to qualify in the top-10 for the first time this season and will start 16th in tomorrow's Gran Premio Telmex-Gigante at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodrigues in Mexico City, Mexico.
Servia's fastest qualifying lap came yesterday in provisional qualifying when he had a quick time of 90.383 seconds (110.968) on the 2.786-mile, 16- turn permanent road course. The 29-year-old Spaniard will start the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing entry, which is powered by Ford/Cosworth and uses a Lola chassis with Bridgestone tires, on the outside of Row #8 in tomorrow's race.
Servia began the day 14th on the grid after experiencing some problems in yesterday's provisional qualifying. The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team spent most of last evening changing the engine, all of its accessories parts and components and in this morning's practice it appeared that things were improved. Servia turned a quick time of 89.561 seconds (111.986 mph), which placed him third on the individual practice report and seventh on the combined report after three practice sessions.
However, in today's final qualifying the gains made in the morning evaporated. Servia could only manage a quick lap of 90.510 seconds (110.812 mph) as the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team struggled to find overall speed. Because his qualifying time today was slower than yesterday's his final grid position was based on his fast lap in Friday's provisional qualifying.
"Qualifying for the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team has been very disappointing and frustrating this weekend," Servia said. "The engineering staff and crew have worked very hard and given me the best car they can, but we just don't seem to be able to get the speed we need. I don't know if it is a single problem or a combination of problems, but we don't seem to be getting the most out of the car," he commented. "The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team has been qualifying very well recently and we had high expectations coming to this race. This is also the first time this season that we have not qualified in the top-10," Servia noted.
"We are just going to have to sit down, go over the data and figure out what we can do to improve the Visteon/Patrick Racing car for the race. I am confident that Steve Challis (Visteon/Patrick Racing Chief Engineer) will come up with something that will help plus I have Jim McGee (Visteon/Patrick Racing General Manager) calling my race and one of the best crews in the business, so we should be okay tomorrow," he concluded.
Servia's qualifying effort ends a streak of 16 consecutive top-10 starting positions. He had been the only driver to start in the top-10 in every race this season.
Servia, who is looking to regain the form that saw him place on the podium in consecutive races at Montreal and Denver, is having a career year and has established a number of personal CART career records. He has set career marks for consecutive top-10 starting spots at 16, has earned a single season high 16 top-10 starting positions and a single season high seven top-five starting positions. In addition to the qualifying records, Servia has scored career high second place showings at Milwaukee and Montreal plus finished on the podium in consecutive races for the first time (Montreal, second and Denver, third). The resident of Miami, Florida has earned a single season high nine top-10 finishes including a single season high seven top-five showings. He has also set CART career records for consecutive top-six finishes, seven, top-10 showings, seven and points paying performances, eight. Servia has finished in the points in 11 of the 16 races this season and placed in the top-six in nine of his last 13 events. He is sixth in the standings with 108 points.
Now in his fourth CART season and second with Visteon/Patrick Racing, Servia will be making his 70th career CART start, 27th for the team and second in Mexico City this weekend. In 69 previous CART races he has earned 32 top-ten finishes including 13 top-five showings with four podium performances. In his 26 starts with Visteon/Patrick Racing, 10 in 2002 and 16 this year, Servia has finished in the points 16 times with 13 top-10 finishes, nine top-five showings and three podiums. Last year at the inaugural Gran Premio Telmex-Gigante, Servia qualified 16th and finished ninth.
The Gran Premio Telmex-Gigante will be televised live by Speed Channel on Sunday, October 12, at 4:00 PM (ET). The pre-race show will begin at 3:30 PM (ET).