New Format and Red Flags Frustrating For PKV Racing in Monterrey Round One Qualifying MONTERREY, Mexico (May 21, 2004) -- Champ Car's introduction of a new qualifying format brought fans of the series more on-track action in Round One qualifying...
New Format and Red Flags Frustrating For PKV Racing in Monterrey Round One Qualifying
MONTERREY, Mexico (May 21, 2004) -- Champ Car's introduction of a new qualifying format brought fans of the series more on-track action in Round One qualifying today in Monterrey, with the fast five from each nine-car group moving to a qualifying shootout, but PKV Racing's Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and hometown favorite Roberto Gonzalez (#21 Nextel Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) were left out of the action after the two placed just outside the top five fastest times in their respective groups.
Monterrey native Gonzalez took to the 2.104-mile permanent road course in Fundidora Park for his bid to make it to the day's final shootout, and ran in the top five for the majority of the first 15 minute "place or go home" segment. But when a late Red Flag situation developed after fellow Mexican Rodolfo Lavin spun and came to a halt off course, the field of nine gained the momentum needed to bump Gonzalez back to seventh.
"The Red Flag at the end of the session really threw us off, unfortunately," said Gonzalez. "We came into the pits and made some adjustments to the tire pressures, but I guess we didn't get it right. I fought the car while searching for speed and a fast lap at the end. It's really a shame for the team, for Nextel and for myself that we dropped to seventh there at the end. I wanted to be in that top five."
PKV Racing stablemate and 1996 Series Champion Vasser drew a group two qualifying spot, and like his teammate, ran in the top five for most of the session. Unfortunately, the 10-time racewinner was also the victim of a Red Flag situation with just under one minute remaining in the qualifier. A late stoppage occurred just when Vasser was cooling his tires, and thus negated a final flyer he could have used to break into the top five.
"We're really disappointed, obviously," said Vasser. "We gained a lot of speed, but at the same time, other guys were picking it up quite a bit as well. It's a shame because the car felt really good this morning, and it felt just as good in our qualifying session."
The PKV squad will continue its search for speed in Monterrey again tomorrow when their high-horsepower duo of Lolas take the track in the final round of Champ Car qualifying at 1:45 pm local time.