Sixth pole of Champ Car World Series season puts Paul Tracy at head of the pack for Mexico City Grand Prix Mexico City, Mexico, October 11, 2003 Paul Tracy's provisional fast lap withstood all challenges in final qualifying Saturday, giving the...
Sixth pole of Champ Car World Series season puts Paul Tracy at head of the pack for Mexico City Grand Prix
Mexico City, Mexico, October 11, 2003 Paul Tracy's provisional fast lap withstood all challenges in final qualifying Saturday, giving the PF Racing driver his sixth Champ Car World Series pole of the season and the No. 1 spot on the starting grid for Sunday's 70-lap Gran Premio Telmex-Gigante.
Patrick Carpentier of PF Racing, who shaved almost two-tenths of a second off his Friday qualifying lap, was ninth fastest in the combined standings and will start from Row 5. Tiago Monteiro of Portugal, the fastest in today's session, will line up beside Tracy on the front row, with Brazilian Bruno Junqueira, who trails first-place Tracy by 14 points in the drivers' championship, starting directly behind Tracy on the inside of Row 2.
Higher ambient and track temperatures on Saturday contributed to slower times on the 2.786-mile road course than the first qualifying session, when Tracy clocked a fast lap of 1 minute, 28.842. Monteiro's best lap in the Saturday session was 1:29.042, which earned him the No. 2 spot on the grid but was slower than the fast laps by both Tracy and Junqueira on Friday. Tracy had the fourth quickest lap today, a time of 1:29.201.
The pole was the 19th of Tracy's career. Of the five previous poles that Tracy has won this season, he has gone on to win the race three times and finished second in another. Only once this season when a broken gearbox put him out of the race in Brands Hatch, England has Tracy failed to make it to the podium after earning the pole.
"The car wasn't too bad but I just didn't feel like I could have matched Friday's time," said Tracy. "It got very slick out there from this morning's practice. The tires were best on the fourth lap, which is why we came in before the end. It didn't look like Bruno (Junqueira) was going to be any faster either."
"The start of the race should be interesting. Everyone at the front of the grid pretty much needs good finishes but there could be some excitement in that first corner with that long straightaway and some drafting going on off the start. Am I going to go for the win or the championship? Both. The most important thing is to finish in front of Junqueira."
Carpentier was sixth fastest in morning practice, no small feat since his car banged into the wall 10 minutes into the 75-minute session and the PF Racing crew did some outstanding work to get him out on the track with 10 minutes left in the session, where he posted his quickest lap. His best lap in qualifying was 1:29.449, making him one of the few to improve on his Friday time, but he got stuck behind slow cars on his second stint, and wasn't able to move above ninth overall.
"It could have been a better day," admitted Carpentier. "Following my crash this morning, the team tried different set ups to stabilize the car but it is still pushing too much. One thing we got right is the race set up. The car is much better than in qualifying mode. I'm able to put the power down and on this track there are places to pass. So, I'm quite confident about the race."
Racing fans can follow the Gran Premio Telmex-Gigante by logging on to the team's website at lastlap.ca. They can also watch the race live on the The Sports Network starting at 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.