CHAMPCAR/CART: Montreal: Friday report

Visteon/Patrick Racing's Oriol Servia earns first-ever CART Champ Car front-row starting spot by leading first-day qualifying for Molson Indy Montreal. MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada (August 22, 2003) - Holder of some of the worst luck in the ...

Visteon/Patrick Racing's Oriol Servia earns first-ever CART Champ Car front-row starting spot by leading first-day qualifying for Molson Indy Montreal.

MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada (August 22, 2003) - Holder of some of the worst luck in the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford in recent weeks, Oriol Servia (#20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) made his own luck on a sunny Friday in Montreal and stormed to the first-day pole for Sunday's Molson Indy Montreal.

Servia paced a CART Champ Car qualifying session for the first time in his four-year career, surviving a bit of contact on his penultimate lap to put up a time of 1:21.112 (120.234 mph) around the 2.709-mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The lap was nearly three-tenths of a second faster than the rest of the field and guaranteed the Spaniard the first front-row starting spot of his Champ Car career.

The Visteon/Patrick Racing pilot paced the warmup session leading into the first round of qualifying but joined the rest of his Champ Car brethren in waiting on Pit Lane for the first 13 minutes before going out and attacking the course. Servia would attack early and often once he did roll out of his pit stall however, taking just three laps to jump to the top of the standings. He cut the quickest time of the day on his fourth pass and then joined the rest of the lineup on Pit Lane as the car of Max Papis (#27 PK Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) spun and brought out the red flag.

The car would need a lengthy tow as it refused to respond to the manipulations of the Simple Green Champ Car Safety Team, meaning that nearly the entire field would have just 10 minutes to post their best times. The series points leader was first out on the track at the drop of the green flag by virtue of his pit placement and used the clear track to his advantage as Paul Tracy (#3 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) moved into the second spot after taking a lap to get his Bridgestone tires up to temperature.

Two laps later he would climb to the pole while Servia tested his luck once again. The Newman/Haas ride of Road America winner Bruno Junqueira (#1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) was working on a late flying lap when he was caught by Servia heading into a tight hairpin corner. Servia braked hard and tried to move to the inside of Junqueira but, as happened two weeks ago at Mid-Ohio, the two cars had contact with Servia slowing dramatically before returning to action.

Remarkably, neither car suffered serious damage and both drivers rejoined the fray with one lap apiece remaining to earn their results. Both drivers not only would rejoin, but would card their fastest laps of the day, Junqueira moving to third with a time of 1:21.476 (119.697 mph) while Servia flashed past the line and into the top spot with his last-gasp effort. The run would earn Servia his first championship point since Toronto, and move him into a tie for sixth place in the standings with Portland winner Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone).

Junqueira's last dash knocked his teammate Sebastien Bourdais (#2 Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) off of the first-day podium, forcing the rookie points leader to settle for the fourth spot after a time of 1:21.495 (119.669 mph) while hometown favorite Alex Tagliani (#33 Johnson Controls Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) rounded out the top five.

Behind the top five came a trio of Reynard-driving rookies intent on following the success of the podium finish for the manufacturer at Mid-Ohio. Darren Manning (#15 RAC/Walker Racing Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) locked down the sixth position in the first-day results with a time of 1:21.833 (119.174 mph) while Ryan Hunter-Reay (#31 American Spirit Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) continued his recent run of solid performances by finishing just .013 seconds behind Manning in seventh. Tiago Monteiro (#7 Fittipaldi-Dingman Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) put himself in line to earn the best starting spot of his rookie season by placing eighth on the opening day of the weekend, with a time of 1:22.069 (118.832 mph).

The fortune that smiled on Servia did not show the same courtesy toward Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) during the Friday session. Jourdain was fourth on the speed sheets midway through the session, but would see his chance to improve stolen from him by mechanical problems as his oil-soaked car quit running on what looked like a strong lap. Jourdain was able, however, to avoid bringing out a red flag and losing his best lap as he coaxed the car into a safe haven area, allowing him to keep his best lap but forcing him to miss the remainder of the session. He would settle for the ninth spot on the first-day grid while Mario Dominguez (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) rounded out the top 10.

The Fates were cruel toward another of the crowd favorites as Patrick Carpentier (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) saw his first round of qualifying evaporate in a cloud of engine smoke during the 10-minute warmup period that preceded the qualifying session. Carpentier, who qualified fourth in Montreal a season ago, will get another chance during Saturday's final qualifying to move up in the order.

Tomorrow's final qualifying will get underway at 1:45 p.m. to set the final grid for Sunday's 75-lap Molson Indy Montreal shootout. The qualifying session can be seen live in the United States on SPEED Channel, beginning at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

QUOTES FROM TOP THREE FINISHERS:

Oriol Servia: Well, we had a very quick practice section, so the car felt really nice. I liked this place a lot last year, too. So every weekend you go to a track, you are hoping for a pole position in the race. I think at this place we have more chances than other places. So we just did everything right.

Paul Tracy: A little bit frustrating. We went out, I did a good time. We went to P1. Then I got traffic. I had to abort a lap, which I only had enough fuel for six laps. I did the sixth lap, it was quicker again. Then the team said I went through the first three, four corners, and I was up again by about two tenths, and I ran out of fuel just before the pit entrance on the straightaway.

Bruno Junqueira: It was okay. The PacifiCare car today was very good in qualifying. I felt I could be on pole. I did two laps, then the red flag came on first set of tires. I was on a good lap when I got caught in traffic there, but got a clear lap late and took third.

NOTEWORTHY

* With four rookies in the top eight today, the Molson Indy Montreal would be the first race since the German 500 at EuroSpeedway Lausitz that first-year Champ Car drivers would make up half of the first eight cars on the grid, if the results hold up in final qualifying.

* Oriol Servia's guaranteed front-row starting spot for Sunday's race marks the first time since the 2001 season that a Patrick Racing car has started on the front row. Roberto Moreno was the last Patrick car to start on the front row, winning the pole at Surfers Paradise.

* If he can repeat his first-round result in final qualifying, Darren Manning's sixth-place effort would mark his best-ever road-course qualifying position since joining the CART Champ Car World Series.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Bruno Junqueira , Max Papis , Roberto Moreno , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Mario Dominguez , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais , Michel Jourdain