CHAMPCAR/CART: Mexico City: Saturday qualifying report

Bourdais Wins Champ Car Pole in Mexico City MEXICO CITY (November 6, 2004) - Sebastien Bourdais ( ...

Bourdais Wins Champ Car Pole in Mexico City

MEXICO CITY (November 6, 2004) - Sebastien Bourdais (#2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) had 15 laps of qualifying and two sets of alternate Bridgestone Potenza tires at his disposal as he chased the pole position for Sunday's Gran Premio Telmex/Tecate Presented by Banamex, but he only needed two of the laps and one set of tires to get the job done.

Bourdais blitzed the field on his second lap around the 2.786-mile Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, to jump nearly a full second ahead of everyone on the track, then went out and sealed the deal late in the session, setting a new track record with a lap of 1:25.919 (116.733 mph/187.863 kph). His time was more than a half-second better than his closest competitor and gave him another championship point, widening his lead to 22 points heading into tomorrow's Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season finale.

Bourdais earned his eighth pole of the year and the 13th of his career, becoming just the sixth driver in the Champ Car Modern Era (1979-Present) to win as many as eight poles in a season. With today's championship point, Bourdais needs to finish ninth or better in Sunday's 63-lap event to clinch his first Champ Car title.

But the fight will not be as easy as that as the only man that can usurp Bourdais' crown will start directly beside him on the front row. Bruno Junqueira (#6 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) carded the day's second-best lap with a time of 1:26.545 (115.889 mph/186.505 kph). As he did when he led Friday's qualifying, Junqueira waited until late in the session to make his final run, jumping to within six tenths of his Newman/Haas Racing teammate before settling for the second spot.

The row chasing the Newman/Haas pair to the first turn tomorrow will make it interesting as Justin Wilson (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and veteran Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will respectively fill the third and fourth spot on the grid as they search for their first wins of the year. Wilson was fourth in Friday's first qualifying session and showed that his Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing squad had done their homework overnight as he posted the second-best time in today's morning practice. He moved into the top five on the grid on his first set of tires, then improved to third with a time of 1:27.016 (115.262 mph/185.495 kph) on his second stint. The starting spot is the best for the British rookie since he started in the front row in Cleveland, in a race that saw him eliminated in a first-turn accident.

Vasser used the same strategy today as Bourdais, eschewing the opportunity to use one of his sets of alternate Bridgestones on Friday, saving them both for today's final session. He used the first set to vault to the pole just nine minutes into the 35-minute session, and then bolted on the second set late in the run to take the fourth spot. The grid position is the best on a road course for Vasser since he started third at Road America and was a scant 0.022 seconds behind Wilson.

The last laps of the session saw a number of changes in the order as the track conditions were at their best. The long layout gave many cars a chance to take fast laps late without worrying about the traffic that can thwart late thrusts at some circuits, helping six of the top 10 drivers run their best times on either their last or next-to-last laps of the day.

Oriol Servia (#11 YokeTV.com Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) used those conditions to score his best starting spot of the season as he took the fifth position with a lap of 1:27.114 (115.132 mph/185.286 kph). The grid position is not only the best for Servia in 2004, it is the best for a Dale Coyne Racing machine since Gualter Salles started fourth at Long Beach in April of 1998.

Defending race winner Paul Tracy (#1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will start sixth on Sunday, one spot ahead of Roshfrans Rookie of the Year A.J. Allmendinger (#10 Western Union Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). Tracy earned a time of 1:27.172 (115.055 mph/185.163 kph) in scoring the sixth spot while Allmendinger registered a best effort of 1:27.205 (115.012 mph/185.093 kph).

Patrick Carpentier (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) scored the eighth spot on the grid with Ryan Hunter-Reay (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) rounding out the top 10.

Former Toyota Atlantic standout Michael Valiante (#15 Wildlife Conservation Network Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will start an impressive 12th in his Champ Car debut after carding a top time of 1:27.642 (114.438 mph/184.170 kph) in final qualifying. His time today was 2.8 seconds faster than his time from Friday's first round of qualifying.

Tomorrow's 63-lap battle for the 2004 Vanderbilt Cup will get the green flag at 3 p.m. Central Time/ 4 p.m. Eastern, and will be shown live in the U.S. on Spike TV. Fans can also follow along by using the Race Director feature on the official website of the Champ Car World Series, www.champcarworldseries.com <http://www.champcarworldseries.com/> .

QUOTES FROM THE TOP THREE QUALIFIERS:

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (#2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "Well, I feel good, but I know there's still a long way to go. The hardest part of the season is in front of us and there's definitely going to be braking going into turn one tomorrow on the first lap. I'm just really, really happy for the boys because they really did a good job. It's not about how fast we can go, it's about how tough we are, how we can stay on the racetrack and have no mechanical issues. So just we'll see tomorrow, but definitely two very good runs, and today with an alternate set of tires that Bridgestone has been bringing, and I'm very happy with the car."

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (#6 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "It was a good day. I think the PacifiCare car was okay, but it was not the best, but able to go second. We waited to put the soft tires on later in the session. But I think there was so much traffic on the track; the team couldn't find the gap. When they actually found it, there was four minutes to go, so I didn't have time to do two laps. It's a long race tomorrow. The championship is on the line. A lot of things can happen. I'm confident that I will have a really good car."

JUSTIN WILSON (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "I'm pretty happy. We've been making progress all weekend, then in the warm-up session before qualifying, we were a long way off, and getting a bit concerned that we changed the setup only very slightly but lost our way. Fortunately, we changed it back. The car worked again and we were able to go out and set a time. Very pleased that the Mi-Jack Conquest team has done a fantastic job all weekend."

NOTEWORTHY

*Sebastien Bourdais' new track record eclipsed the previous mark of 1:25.941 (116.703 mph) held by his Newman/Haas Racing teammate Bruno Junqueira.

*Bourdais is the first Champ Car driver since Michael Andretti to win eight poles, Andretti winning eight poles in the 1991 season. Of the five previous drivers to win as many as eight poles in a season, four of them went on to win the series championship. Mario Andretti was the only exception as his eight poles in 1987 were not enough to keep Bobby Rahal from claiming the series title.

*No matter what happens Sunday, Newman/Haas Racing will claim the top two spots in the Champ Car World Series championship, marking the first time that teammates have finished 1-2 in the championship since Alex Zanardi and Jimmy Vasser in 1998.

*Bourdais became the first driver in the Champ Car Modern Era to qualify in the top three in every race during a season. He also extends his own series record by qualifying in the top three for 15 consecutive races.

-ccws-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Gualter Salles , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Bobby Rahal , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Alex Zanardi , Oriol Servia , Michael Valiante , Mario Andretti , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Dale Coyne , Michel Jourdain
Teams Conquest Racing , Dale Coyne Racing