CHAMPCAR/CART: Monterrey: Saturday qualifying report

CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES POINTS LEADER SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS SCORES FOURTH CONSECUTIVE MONTERREY CHAMP CAR POLE MONTERREY, Mexico (May 20, 2006) -- It was once said that death and taxes were the only certainties in life, but fans of the ...


MONTERREY, Mexico (May 20, 2006) -- It was once said that death and taxes were the only certainties in life, but fans of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford are becoming used to another -- when the Champ Cars go to Monterrey, Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will be on the pole.

Bourdais won the Bridgestone Pole Position for Sunday's Tecate Grand Prix of Monterrey Presented by Roshfrans, leading final qualifying in Monterrey's Fundidora Park for the fourth consecutive year after posting a time of 1:13.253 (103.401 mph). His clocking established a new track record on the 2.104-mile layout for the second consecutive year, and earned the Newman/Haas Racing driver his 19th career Champ Car pole.

Much like yesterday's first round of qualifying, Bourdais hung up a big lap and then had to sweat out a last-ditch attempt by Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who was the last car on track with a shot to upend the Flying Frenchman. But unlike yesterday, Wilson's best time of the day was not enough to dislodge Bourdais from the top spot, although his best lap of 1:13.532 (103.008 mph) was the second-best of the day. Wilson earned a front-row start by leading Friday's qualifying, earning the sixth front-row start of his three-year Champ Car career.

Wilson's RuSPORT stablemate A.J. Allmendinger (#10 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) earned the third position on tomorrow's grid with a best lap of 1:13.796 (102.640 mph), scoring his first top-three start of the year and his fourth consecutive top-five start dating back to last year's season finale in Mexico City.

The session started slowly as most of the series power brokers waited in 100-degree heat as the Champ Car rookie class made the first laps of the qualifying session. Dan Clarke (#14 CTE Racing -- HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Nicky Pastorelli (#8 Bavaria City Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) were the first to turn laps but the crowd didn't sit up and take notice until local favorite Mario Dominguez (#7 Orgullo de Mexico Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) vaulted to the top of the charts on his fourth lap.

Dominguez stayed on the front row through the half of the session, but ended up getting sent back to Pit Lane along with everyone else when Katherine Legge (#20 Bell Micro Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) brought out the red flag with a spin. The stoppage appeared to have thrown a curve ball at Friday's leaders as most of them had just come on course for their first runs, but they showed no ill effects when the green flag waved with 16 minutes remaining on the clock.

Bourdais needed just three laps to climb to the pole position, and then just one more after that to post the time that would end up earning him the Bridgestone Pole Position Trophy. He then rolled down Pit Lane to survey the damage he had wrought on the rest of the field, then decided valor should probably trump discretion in this case once Allmendinger posted a time that was a little too close for Bourdais' comfort.

"Well, you never quite know what the track is going to do. In normal circumstances the track would have picked up another 3, 4, maybe 5 tenths of a second," said Bourdais of his decision to go back out. "For sure you'd like to save the tires, but as I said in Long Beach when we did it, you look like a star when it succeeds. But when you miss the pole because you got greedy, you sat down for the second stint, you really look awful stupid. It's a tough call. You've got to decide. We played it safe this time and went out."

But Allmendinger would get no closer and Wilson's final laps were good only for second place, moving Bourdais into a tie for 15th on the all-time Champ Car pole list with Jimmy Bryan. His teammate Bruno Junqueira (#2 Hole In The Wall Camps Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) gained a position over Friday's result, snaring the fourth spot on the grid with a best time of 1:13.911 (102.480 mph). He leapfrogged Friday's fourth-place finisher Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who rounded out the top five with a time of 1:14.009 (102.344 mph).

Alex Tagliani (#15 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) rebounded from an incident in morning practice to claim the sixth position on the grid as he looks to claim his fifth consecutive top-five finish in Monterrey. Oriol Servia (#6 Bell Micro Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) was seventh, just .019 seconds in arrears to Tagliani with a top time of 1:14.553 (101.598 mph).

Dominguez ended his day in the eighth spot, while top-qualifying rookie Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) ended his day in ninth. Power leads the Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year standings after two races and matched his best career start with today's effort. 2005 Champ Car Atlantic champion Charles Zwolsman (#34 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) earned the first top-10 starting spot of his young career by scoring the 10th spot today, putting him one position ahead of fellow rookie Jan Heylen (#11 Sonny's BBQ Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who also had the best qualifying session of his young career.

Tomorrow's 76-lap Tecate Grand Prix of Monterrey Presented by Roshfrans will get underway at 1 p.m. local time, 2 p.m. Eastern and will be shown live on SPEED beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern.


Sebastien Bourdais: I had clean track, two laps in a row. That was exactly what I was looking for. We just got it right. Could not be any happier for the McDonald's team. I think it's quite an achievement to do that four years in a row. I just really like this racetrack. I hope it's going to be good to us tomorrow because it's always been a bumpy ride for the race. We'll see what happens.

Justin Wilson: Part of the gamble we took yesterday to use the alternate tires for that one lap paid off. We knew it would hurt us a little bit today. We didn't have a very good buildup and understanding of what the tires liked. Under the circumstances, I'm pretty happy with the way we've worked, the whole CDW #9 car crew have done a great job. Looking forward to the race now.

A.J. Allmendinger: I was fairly pleased overall today with how it was going. Practice, we were fairly quick. I was a bit disappointed in qualifying. I didn't think we got the car exactly right. But, you know, I'm pleased to be in the top three, at least in touch with the front. As everybody said, it's going to be a long race tomorrow, it's going to be difficult. I think we got a little more fine tuning to do with the car. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.


* Sebastien Bourdais is the first Champ Car driver since Rick Mears to win four consecutive poles at the same track. Mears turned the trick at Phoenix International Raceway from 1988-91. NOTE: Michael Andretti won four consecutive Grand Prix of Detroit poles from 1989-92, but three of those were on the downtown street course before the event moved to Belle Isle in 1992.

* Will Power, Charles Zwolsman and Jan Heylen all earned the best qualifying results of their relatively young Champ Car careers today, earning starting spots ninth through 11th respectively.

* Justin Wilson has started in the top three on each of the last six races that Champ Car has run on permanent road courses dating back to Mexico City in 2004.


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Michael Andretti , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Rick Mears , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Katherine Legge , Jan Heylen , Charles Zwolsman , Will Power , Nicky Pastorelli , Daniel Clarke