CHAMPCAR/CART: Monterrey: Friday provisional qualifying report

Paul Tracy wins Champ Car provisional pole at Monterrey. MONTERREY, Mexico (March 21, 2003) -- After a victory to open the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season in St. Petersburg, Paul Tracy ( ...

Paul Tracy wins Champ Car provisional pole at Monterrey.

MONTERREY, Mexico (March 21, 2003) -- After a victory to open the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season in St. Petersburg, Paul Tracy (#3 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) joked that it was nice to do well in the opener because he had always been a slow starter.

But with another strong performance in Friday's qualifying for the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix, Tracy showed that a slow start is not in the cards for this Champ Car World Series season as the Canadian stormed to the provisional pole for Sunday's race at Monterrey's Fundidora Park.

He made his point early, carding what would be the polewinning lap of 1:17.220 (98.089 mph/157.858 kph) on just his third lap as he went out in the early part of the 40-minute session in search of a clear racetrack.

"Well, it just seemed I went out of the pits, I had two warm-up laps, I did it on the first flying lap," Tracy said of his polewinning effort. "After that, I was never able to get another lap again. I think it went that way for everybody. There were a lot of cars on the track. A lot of guys were trying hard. It's difficult out there."

The time was nearly two seconds faster than the polewinning effort from 2002, as Tracy's run led a group of 12 drivers that were faster than last year's top qualifying time posted by Adrian Fernandez (1:18.929).

But while Tracy was making hay early in the session, there were plenty of battles to keep the huge Monterrey crowd entertained through the 40 minutes of qualifying. Home favorite Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) vaulted to second in the order on his fourth lap while opening-race polesitter Sebastien Bourdais (#2 Newman/Haas Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) climbed to third soon after.

Alex Tagliani (#33 Johnson Controls Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) took the second spot halfway through the session but quickly gave it up to Bruno Junqueira (#1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) who moved to third on his fourth lap of the day and then up to second on his next orbit of the 2.106-mile road course. But Junqueira would retire with mechanical problems soon after as the rest of the field closed.

Nearly 10 minutes later, little changed in the serial until drivers got the word that time was running short. Oriol Servia (#20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) used his final flying lap to vault into the second spot in the order, posting a time of 1:17.373 (97.895 mph/157.546 kph).

"You know, we got lucky that we got a clear lap at the end," Servia said. "There was only one, but it counted."

Behind Servia came the charge of Patrick Carpentier (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who survived a pair of early-session trips through the Fundidora Park grass to put up a time of 1:17.391 (97.872 mph/157.509 kph) to lock down the third spot in the order. His time was quick enough to leapfrog the stricken car of Junqueira who would finish fourth while Jourdain led the Mexican contingent with a fifth-place run.

Bourdais would lead the rookie field with a sixth-place finish, while Tagliani would content himself with a seventh-place run. Mexican pilot Mario Dominguez (#55 Herdez Competition Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) placed eighth while Mexican racing hero Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) taking the ninth spot. Rookie Darren Manning (#15 RAC Walker Racing Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) led the Reynard contingent as he rounded out the top 10.


Paul Tracy: I had a good first run on the first set of tires when I did the time, then we made a couple changes. We felt we got the car better. Then the second set of tires, we went out and I was just held up with traffic the whole time, wasn't able to get a lap together. I didn't feel we were going to be able to hang on to that position, but obviously we did.

Oriol Servia: Well, like Patrick said, it was a little bit of a nightmare. It was impossible to get a clear lap. Every time I had a lap, Patrick would slow down and I couldn't finish the lap. Always the last turn, though. So it was a little bit frustrating. I think we had a good car all day. We had a good car in St. Pete, in Sebring. You know, we'll see tomorrow. But I think we are in definitely good shape.

Patrick Carpentier: We had some problems and we had to skip the second session, only did a few laps. Coming back this afternoon it didn't seem to go too well early on in qualifying. It was all over the place. Everywhere there was grass, I was there, except on the asphalt. I finally got it together and put a lap at the end. We're pretty happy actually starting from where we started.

The final grid will be set for Sunday's 85-lap event with Saturday's qualifying session, which begins at 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time.


* Paul Tracy won the provisional pole and guaranteed himself a front-row starting spot for Sunday's race. If he backs his effort up on Saturday and wins the pole in final qualifying, it would be his first top-qualifying spot since he took the pole at Michigan in 2000. It would be his first road-course pole since Laguna Seca in 1994.

* Oriol Servia would establish a new career high for qualifying if he backs up his provisional effort from Friday. His second-place run would be his first-ever front row starting spot and his best since he started fourth at Nazareth in 2001. He qualified third at Texas in 2001 in a race that was cancelled.

* Alex Yoong replaced Roberto Gonzalez in the #11 Dale Coyne Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola./Bridgestone for today's event and his qualifying and practice runs were the first in a Champ Car for the former Minardi F1 driver.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Alex Yoong , Mario Dominguez , Sébastien Bourdais , Roberto Gonzalez , Dale Coyne , Michel Jourdain
Teams Dale Coyne Racing