MIAMI, FLORIDA - SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2003 -- Round ...
MIAMI, FLORIDA - SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2003 -- Round #16 - 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -
Visteon/Patrick Racing driver Oriol Servia ran the second fastest qualifying time, missing the pole by just .036 of a second, but will start third in tomorrow's Grand Prix Americas on the temporary street circuit in Miami, Florida.
Servia piloted the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing entry, which is powered by Ford/Cosworth and uses a Lola chassis with Bridgestone tires, to a quick lap of 44.289 seconds (93.477 mph), but will start on the inside of Row #2 because Bruno Junqueira, who had the third fastest time today, captured the provisional pole yesterday guaranteeing him a front row starting position. Adrian Fernandez will start on the pole.
Servia was sixth on the grid following Friday's provisional qualifying with a fast time of 46.319 seconds (89.380 mph). Following yesterday's run the talented resident of Miami, Florida predicted that he would improve his position in final qualifying based on a better qualifying position and the opportunity to work with what had already proven to be a solid setup. The qualifying order on Friday was based on a morning practice session that was run in the rain. Servia, who was 13th on the practice report qualified seventh, which put him at a disadvantage in comparison to the drivers that went out later when the track had more grip.
In today's qualifying, which was run in extremely hot and humid conditions, Servia went out 14th of the 19 drivers. Taking advantage of the qualifying order and a track that had plenty of grip, he ran a lap that was clearly on the edge and almost good enough to capture his first career CART pole.
"I am very happy with the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team's qualifying effort today," Servia said. "I almost lost control going into Turn #1. I locked the wheels, but everything was fine after that," he explained. "I knew we had done a good lap, but I wasn't sure the time would hold up. Now I am really upset because I really wanted my first pole and I lost it by just .036 of a second," he joked. "The track was a lot better today because there was a lot more rubber down, which provided more grip. That makes the driver's job easier," Servia remarked.
Some of the credit for today's success goes to the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team's engineering staff, which worked diligently to improve the car's setup in the morning practice. Servia spent much of the morning at the top of the speed charts with a quick lap of 44.705 seconds (92.607 mph), but fell to third overall when he was unable to get his final quick lap in due to traffic.
"The Visteon/Patrick Racing engineering staff did a fantastic job with the setup and the crew did a great job preparing the car." Servia said. "We came here with a setup that we though would be good and on Friday it was. This morning the team really improved the car and that made a big difference in qualifying today," he noted.
Commenting on tomorrow's race Servia said, "The important thing was to have a good qualifying effort today. It is so important to start up front on this track because it is so tough to overtake. We are in a good spot to start the race and I think it will be an interesting race because the fuel windows are so big. A lot of things can happen on a track like this, so pit strategy could become important. Fortunately, I have Mr. Patrick and Jim McGee on my side so that gives me a lot of confidence."
Servia concluded by saying, "I am really happy with the way the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team has been performing the last few races. Obviously, we can't win the championship, so our goal is to win as many races as we can. I think the team and our sponsor Visteon deserve a win and I would really like to get my first career CART victory tomorrow in my hometown."
Servia's qualifying effort today extends three personal career records. The native of Spain has now qualified in the top-10 a CART career high 16 consecutive times, earned a single season high 16 top-10 starting positions and a single season high seven top-five starting positions. Servia is the only driver to have qualified in the top-10 in every race this season. This is also his best starting position in two attempts in Miami. Last year at the inaugural Grand Prix Americas, Servia qualified 13th and finished 17th.
Servia, who is coming off consecutive podium performances for the first time in his CART career, has firmly established himself as one of the top drivers in the Champ Car series. Now in his fourth CART season and second with Visteon/Patrick Racing, Servia has established, and is looking to add to, a number of other career marks. In addition to the aforementioned qualifying records and two straight podium finishes, Servia has earned his career highest qualifying position starting second at Montreal and Denver. He has also scored career high second place showings at Milwaukee and Montreal, 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 15 races this season and placed in the top-six in nine of his last 12 events. He is sixth in the standings with 108 points.
Servia will be making his 69th career CART start and 26th for Visteon/Patrick Racing tomorrow. In 68 previous CART races he has earned 32 top-ten finishes including 13 top-five showings with four podium performances. In his 25 starts with Visteon/Patrick Racing, 10 in 2002 and 15 this year, Servia has finished in the points 16 times with 13 top-10 finishes, nine top-five showings and three podiums.
The Grand Prix Americas will be televised live by CBS on Sunday, September 28, at 1:00 PM (ET) (taped delayed in some markets at 4:30 PM (ET).
For background, statistical information, releases, notes, quotes plus updates on race weekends, go to (www.patrickracing.com).