Eli Lilly and company driver Fittipaldi set fastest time in qualifying but was scored fourth due to penalty -- Havoline driver da Matta ran fifth fastest time in qualifying after setting fastest time in first session PROV. POLE: Adrian ...
Eli Lilly and company driver Fittipaldi set fastest time in qualifying but was scored fourth due to penalty -- Havoline driver da Matta ran fifth fastest time in qualifying after setting fastest time in first session
PROV. POLE: Adrian Fernandez 1:18.929
4th Christian Fittipaldi 1:19.270 (disallowed lap - 1:18.824 / 96.093 mph)
5th Cristiano da Matta 1:19.275
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Eli Lilly and Company Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "We started off our relationship with Eli Lilly as well as the season by setting the fastest time in qualifying but unfortunately I made a mistake so I guess I have to pay for it. I would definitely rather pay for it when I didn't set the fastest lap of the day but rules are rules. The new qualifying rules make for more excitement for everyone and the first day was no exception. I went on the throttle a little too soon and lost control of the car. I lifted off of the throttle and half-spun and hoped to collect the car but took off part of the nose when I slid into the wall. I brought out the red flag so my fastest lap that I set on my last run in the session was not counted. I set the fast time on my last lap. The most important thing is it's the first day and the car feels very good. I'm very confident. It's not like I am having to over drive the car to get results. The car is good. Yeah I would like to be on pole especially after the season I had last year but it's great to know the car is good. If we can start the race in the top six or eight then we will have a shot at the win."
· NOTES: Was one of three drivers to cause a red flag situation in the one-hour qualifying session and thus have his fastest lap disallowed. The other two were Paul Tracy and Patrick Carpentier although Fittipaldi was the one that was penalized the most as he had set the fastest lap overall in the session. Started 16th and finished 20th in the inaugural event in 2001 after running on a part of the track that was breaking up and subsequently losing traction and hitting the concrete barrier. Will work with a new race engineer, Craig Hampson, 32, a nine-year veteran of the team who was promoted from assistant engineer to da Matta.
CRAIG HAMPSON, Race Engineer for the #11 Eli Lilly and Company car: "It was great the be the fastest today but unfortunately it doesn't count. It's good to know the car is well balanced though. As long as it doesn't rain tomorrow we still have a shot at the pole. Christian did a good job keeping his cool after the crash and the mechanics did a great job getting the car back on track so we could see the potential at the end of the session."
CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Havoline Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "The car is good but the red flags came out at the wrong time for us. We learned a lot about tire usage and other things that will help us tomorrow. The car was good in the morning session as well as the afternoon. The timing of the red flags just hurt us a little today."
· NOTES: Led 32 laps en route to victory in his debut with the team in the inaugural event here in 2001. Will work with a new race engineer, Guillaume "Rocky" Rocquelin, 32, who begins his first season at NHR since joining the team in December of 2001. Rocquelin most recently was race engineer for Scott Dixon who was named 2001 Jim Trueman CART Rookie of the Year.
GUILLAUME "ROCKY" ROCQUELIN, Race Engineer for the #6 Havoline car: "The car is running well we just didn't put the new tires on at the right time in relation to when the red flags came out. Our car is the same as Christian's that set the fastest lap although it was disallowed. Today was a lottery and it didn't work out in our favor.
ON TAP FOR TOMORROW: The one-hour final qualifying session is scheduled to take place from 1:45-2:45 PM local time tomorrow. Adrian Fernandez is locked in with a front row start although another driver could set a faster lap time and thus earn the pole position.
WHERE TO WATCH: On-track action from the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix will be televised on the SPEED Channel Friday-Sunday, March 8-10. Friday's qualifying session will air at 9:00 PM while the all-new CART Friday Night show will air at 10:30. Saturday's qualifying session will air at 8:00 PM while race day programming will begin at 3:30. All times are Eastern.