RAIN PROVIDES EXCITING QUALIFYING SESSION AT MONT-TREMBLANT AS TRISTAN GOMMENDY CAPTURES FIRST CAREER CHAMP CAR POLE POSITION MONT-TREMBLANT, QUEBEC, CANADA -- As dark grey clouds loomed over the mountainous Le Circuit in Mont-Tremblant, the ...
RAIN PROVIDES EXCITING QUALIFYING SESSION AT MONT-TREMBLANT AS TRISTAN GOMMENDY CAPTURES FIRST CAREER CHAMP CAR POLE POSITION
MONT-TREMBLANT, QUEBEC, CANADA -- As dark grey clouds loomed over the mountainous Le Circuit in Mont-Tremblant, the fans in attendance were eagerly anticipating an exciting qualifying session with the possibility of rain while the drivers and teams in the Champ Car World Series were scratching heads and hoping they could plan the right strategy to capture the front row starting spot and a championship point.
Just before the start of the qualifying session, rain began to fall and it was Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) who was one of the first drivers to take to the wet track hoping to post a quick time. Joining Bourdais on the track in the rain was Robert Doornbos (#14 Minardi Team USA Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone), who posted the early lap to beat.
After a brief shower the rains relented and teams faced the decision of bolting on the slick Bridgestone Potenzas or staying with grooved Bridgestone rain tires. Team Australia's Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) made the decision to go with the slicks and slipped and slid his way to faster times.
Also on the slicks were three-time champion Sebastien Bourdais and Champ Car sophomore Dan Clarke (#4 Minardi Team USA Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) who both moved near the top of the charts. Unfortunately for Bourdais he was having gearbox problems and was unable to hold on to the front row starting spot he earned in provisional qualifying. While Bourdais found struggles Clarke spent most of the drying session as the quickest. The British driver used all 15 of the allotted qualifying laps and set the mark to beat.
First to take aim was RSPORTS driver Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) who was fast through most of the track but struggled in Turn 4, one of the lowest parts of the track and the slowest area to dry. Wilson was able to put together a fast lap and move to the top of the chart. Clarke responded three laps later and regained the top spot with just over one minute remaining in the session.
As the clock wound down the action heated up as six drivers held the top spot in the final 90 seconds of qualifying. Canadian Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) knocked Clarke off the top spot but then was replaced by Doornbos. Rookie Frenchman Simon Pagenaud (#15 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) was the next driver to cross the line and take over the fastest time. He was quickly displaced by Justin Wilson, who saw his hopes dashed by Pagenaud's teammate Will Power who turned the fastest lap of the session at 80.943 seconds.
Power will start alongside PKV Racing's Tristan Gommendy (#22 Pay By Touch-Megaspiera Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) who did not turn a wheel during the qualifying session but based on his time from yesterday, the rookie Frenchman earned his first career Champ Car pole position. The pole is the second in PKV Racing's history, team co-owner Jimmy Vasser sat on pole at Milwaukee in 2005.
Because of the wet conditions, the only change from Friday's provisional qualifying was Will Power moving to the front row pushing Bourdais to the third starting spot.
Champ Car Mont-Tremblant will start Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Eastern with live coverage provided in the United States by ESPN and on Global and RDS in Canada.
QUOTES FROM THE TOP THREE STARTERS
Tristan Gommendy: "I wanted to go out, but the team didn't want to. For sure it was because of the risk for the car. We had a big problem with the engine this morning, so we stayed in the pits. It was not my decision. It wasn't necessary for the pole. I had an easy day today."
Will Power "I knew the last lap would be the quickest. Every lap before that was just trying things. I just put a whole lap together at the end there. We really need to start on the front row this weekend because we had such a bad weekend last weekend, and also at Portland not such a good one. We're really after a win."
Sebastien Bourdais "I think the rain might have actually been a good thing with the gearbox issue with the McDonald's car, because had it not been raining and been quicker in this session, we would have lost a lot of positions and probably started very far back in the pack. So, you know, the conditions might actually have helped us in the problem that we encountered because, you know, the failure on the gearbox would have happened just the same under the dry - maybe even quicker. Might have been a little lucky in our bad luck."