PKV RACING QUALIFIES TWO CARS IN TOP-10 FOR SECOND TIME IN TEAM HISTORY GOETERS QUALIFIES PKV RACING/TEAM MEXICO MACHINE 18th MONTERREY, MEXICO -- SATURDAY, MAY 21, 2005 -- Round ...
PKV RACING QUALIFIES TWO CARS IN TOP-10 FOR SECOND TIME IN TEAM HISTORY
GOETERS QUALIFIES PKV RACING/TEAM MEXICO MACHINE 18th
MONTERREY, MEXICO -- SATURDAY, MAY 21, 2005 -- Round #2 -- 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing qualified two cars in the top-10 for the second time in the team's short history today at the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix in Monterrey, Mexico.
Jimmy Vasser, #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, qualified eighth while teammate Cristiano da Matta, #21 Bell Micro/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, qualified ninth on the 2.1-mile, 12-turn Fundidora Park road course. The only other time PKV Racing, which is contesting its third season and second with two cars, qualified both cars in the top-10 was last year in Las Vegas when Vasser qualified a team record second and Roberto Gonzalez qualified 10th.
In addition to Vasser and da Matta, Jorge Goeters put the #52 PKV Racing sponsored Team Mexico Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone entry into the show qualifying 18th of the 19 cars that will grid tomorrow.
Vasser started the day ninth on Friday's provisional grid with a time of 76.519 seconds (98.987). His final qualifying effort saw him pick up almost 1.5 seconds, two mph and one position as he posted a fast lap of 75.032 seconds (100.949 mph).
The Gulfstream/PKV Racing crew got an early start to the day as they arrived at the track before 8:00 a.m. to begin implementing the changes the engineering staff devised following yesterday's provisional qualifying. Vasser only managed a quick time of 76.765 seconds (98.670 mph) in the morning practice, which placed him 12th on both the individual and combined practice report, but reported that the car was felt better and was definitely improved. In the 15-minute pre-qualifying practice/warm-up things looked more promising as he notched the fifth fastest time of the session, and to that point his quickest time of the weekend, turning a lap of 75.414 seconds (100.438 mph). The quick lap put Vasser fifth on the combined report, but unfortunately on track events conspired to deny him an equally strong showing in final qualifying.
"Once again we didn't get everything out of the Gulfstream/PKV Racing car because of something that happened on the track," Vasser began. "I had a lap going that was going to put me fifth or sixth on the grid, but another car brought some grass out on the track and that slowed me up. It is the same for everybody, but we just need a little luck finishing off a good lap. That is what is holding us back right now," he explained. "We definitely need to be quicker, but I think the PKV Racing team is headed in the right direction," Vasser concluded.
Vasser, who is in his 14th Champ Car season will be making his 220th career and 199th consecutive Champ Car start (an ongoing record) tomorrow. This is his first top-10 starting position of the 2005 season having qualified 11th in Long Beach (finished ninth). It is the fourth time in five attempts in Monterrey he has qualified in the top-10 and his second best starting position behind a team record seventh place spot on the grid last year. The 39-year-old native of California has finished in the top-10 once in Monterrey placing sixth at the inaugural race in 2001. Vasser is the 1996 Series Champion and the only owner driver in the series. The resident of Las Vegas, NV, is one of four former champions and three Americans competing in the 2005 Champ Car World Series.
Da Matta, who began the day 10th on the grid after Friday's provisional qualifying with a quick time of of 76.537 seconds (98.964 mph), matched his teammates improvement with a fast lap of 75.118 seconds (100.833 mph). The quick lap was almost 1.5 seconds and two mph faster, which bumped da Matta one spot on the starting grid.
The Bell Micro/PKV Racing crew also got an early jump on the day to make changes to the car in preparation for today's final qualifying. As a result in the morning practice session da Matta was able to improve his time from the previous day turning a quick lap of 76.331 seconds (99.231 mph), which placed him 10th on both the individual and combined practice reports after three practice sessions. In pre-qualifying practice da Matta continued to get quicker, but not as dramatically as Vasser, posting a fast lap of 76.150 seconds (99.467 mph). The quick time placed him 11th on the individual practice report and dropped him to 12th on the combined practice report after four sessions. However, he reported that the Bell Micro/PKV Racing machine was vastly improved, and after a series of discussions with PKV Racing Technical Director, only made some minor changes to the car before final qualifying.
"I had a good run in the Bell Micro/PKV Racing car. It was a nice lap," da Matta said. "Balance-wise the car is good, we just need some more total grip," he explained. "The PKV Racing team still has a lot of work to do and I have some ideas, but setting up a car is about a 1000 different things. I think we are making progress and I am confident that we will get quicker," da Matta concluded.
Da Matta, who rejoined the Champ Car World Series this year after two seasons in Formula 1, will be making his third start in Monterrey tomorrow. While not the defending champion he, never-the-less, will be seeking his third consecutive victory at Fundidora Park. The personable 31-year-old Brazilian won the inaugural event in Monterrey in 2001 and then defended his title the following year. Da Matta has now qualified in the top-10 in both events this year starting eighth in Long Beach (finished 10th). He has also qualified in the top-10 in all three of his attempts at Monterrey with a best starting position of second in 2001(fifth in 2002). Da Matta, who is the 2002 Series Champion, is campaigning his fifth Champ Car season. The resident of Miami, FL is one of four former champions and one of two Brazilians (Bruno Junqueira) competing this season in Champ Car.
Jorge Goeters, who was signed to drive the #52 PKV Racing/Team Mexico car earlier this week, began the day 18th on the provisional grid with a fast time of 79.225 seconds (95.606 mph). Qualifying a Champ Car for the first time the 35-year-old resident of Mexico City turned a quick lap of 76.412 seconds (99.126 mph) putting him in tomorrow's show albeit in the last row in the 18th spot. Goeters, who will be making his first Champ Car start, spent most of Friday familiarizing himself with a Champ Car. In this morning's practice he continued the learning process and although he spun several times still managed a quick lap of 79.435 seconds (95.353 mph). In the afternoon warm-up Goeters had a fast lap of 78.868 seconds (96.039 mph).
Goeters, who competed against PKV Racing teammate Cristiano da Matta in the Indy Lights in 1998, received international attention when he captured the pole and led 24 laps before succumbing to engine problems at the NASCAR Busch Race earlier this year in Mexico City. Currently, Goeters is competing in the Desafio Corona Stock Car Challenge where he leads the championship standings having finished in the top-three in all four events with two wins, most recently this weekend at Queretaro, Mexico (other victory came in second event of the season at Guadalajara). He finished second in the season opener in Mexico City and third in the third race at Zacatecas.
PKV Racing will be making its fourth, fifth and sixth starts while competing in its third Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix tomorrow. The team's best finish is a ninth place showing by Mexican native Roberto Gonzalez last year and its best starting position is seventh by Vasser also in 2004.
The Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix will be run at 3:45 (ET), 2:45 local (CT) on Sunday, May 22 and will be broadcast tape delayed on the Speed Channel at 11:00 p.m. (ET).