CHAMPCAR/CART: Monterrey: Patrick Racing Saturday report

Visteon/Patrick Racing's Servia qualifies fourth for tomorrow's Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix. MONTERREY, MEXICO -- SATURDAY, MARCH 22, 2003 -- Round ...

Visteon/Patrick Racing's Servia qualifies fourth for tomorrow's Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix.

MONTERREY, MEXICO -- SATURDAY, MARCH 22, 2003 -- Round #2 - 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- Visteon/Patrick Racing's Oriol Servia qualified fourth today for tomorrow's Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix at Fundidora Park in Monterry, Mexico.

Servia drove the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing entry to the third fastest time, 75.437 seconds (100.356 mph), but under Champ Car rules yesterday's pole winner, Paul Tracy, was guaranteed a spot on the front row thus dropping the 28-year-old Spaniard to fourth on the grid. Servia was one of three drivers to top the 100 mph mark in qualifying and will start on the outside of Row #2.

The talented resident of Miami, Florida approached, tied or set a number of personal records today. The fourth place qualifying position is the second best of his Champ Car career behind a third at the 2001 Texas race, which was cancelled. It will tie his best Champ Car starting position achieved at Nazareth, also in 2001. This is Servia's best qualifying effort in 12 attempts with Visteon/Patrick Racing surpassing ninth place starting positions at Elkhart Lake and Australia in 2002 and a ninth at the 2003 season opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. It is also his best qualifying effort in three attempts in Monterrey surpassing a eighth place starting position in 2000.

Servia, who has consistently placed his Ford powered Lola among the leaders in every practice session since Spring Training, began the day second on the grid following yesterday provisional qualifying with a fast time of 77.373 seconds (97.895 mph). In morning practice it became obviously that the track had improved as additional rubber and the Bridgestone tires added more grip. It was equally obvious that Servia's car was also dramatically better as he charged to the top of the individual and combined speed charts with a quick lap of 76.531 seconds (98.972 mph).

The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team began qualifying extremely confident. During Servia's first stint he was in 10th place by his second lap, seventh on his third, first on his fourth and then improved his time on the fifth lap. The team pitted on lap eight, changed tires and then sat waiting for the final minutes of the session to begin their second run. On lap five of the second stint Servia was back on the pole, but on last couple of lap he got caught behind Alex Tagliani, who was slowing to try and create a gap with the car ahead to make a final run. Servia completed his fifteen laps on the pole, but with four minutes remaining in the session. Sure enough, with time running out rookie Sebastien Bourdais passed one lap later and then, on his final lap, with the checkered flag flying, so did Tagliani.

"Obviously I am glad about our performance today, but at the same time I am disappointed," Servia began. "I thought the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team had a shot at the pole, but I got caught behind Alex Tagliani when he was slowing down to get a clear lap and didn't get in my last timed lap. Overall, I am happy with our qualifying effort. The second row is a good place to race from," he noted.

Servia went on to say, "The most important part of the weekend is tomorrow and anything can happen. The whole Visteon/Patrick Racing Team is working together fantastically. We got here with a car that was very good and it was better today than yesterday. We have been in the top-three in every practice so far this year, so it was just another good performance today and now we head to Sunday where the big points are awarded. I feel confident because the Visteon/Patrick Racing car is good, so I expect the best. I think we will have a good day."

Servia is making his third start with his third different team in Monterrey. His best finish is 10th last year (with PacWest Racing). He competed here with Sigma Autosport in 2000.

Now in his fourth Champ Car season and second with Visteon/Patrick Racing (he ran three races for PWR and the final ten with Visteon/Patrick Racing in 2000) Servia will be making his 55th career CART start and 12th with the team tomorrow. He has finished in the points in six of his 11 races with Visteon/Patrick Racing placing in the top five twice. In 54 previous Champ Car starts Servia has earned 23 top-ten finishes including six top-five showings (Third, Detroit - 2000; Fourth, Rockingham - 2002; Fifth, St. Louis -2000, Vancouver and Germany - 2001 and Fontana - 2002) and one podium, a career best finish of third in the 2000 Detroit Grand Prix.

The Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix will be televised live on Speed Channel. The pre-race show will begin at 2:00 PM (ET) on Sunday, March 23, with the race shown live from 2:30 - 5:00 PM (ET).

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Sébastien Bourdais