Da Matta leads Lola top-three sweep; pips field in inaugural Molson Indy Montreal. Cristiano da Matta put his personal stamp on CART's first visit to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Montreal's Ile Notre Dame, the sole driver under 79 seconds ...
Da Matta leads Lola top-three sweep; pips field in inaugural Molson Indy Montreal.
Cristiano da Matta put his personal stamp on CART's first visit to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Montreal's Ile Notre Dame, the sole driver under 79 seconds around the 2.709-mile permanent road course. His lap of 78.959 seconds (123.512mph) in the #6 Havoline Lola/Toyota gave da Matta his sixth pole position of the 2002 season. Joining da Matta on the front row is Scotsman Dario Franchitti in the #27 Team KOOL Green Lola/Honda, with a lap of 79.334 seconds (122.928mph), .375 seconds back. Bruno Junqueira earned the third starting slot, posting a lap of 79.347 seconds (122.908mph) in the #4 Team Target Lola/Toyota.
"I had a perfect qualifying run," da Matta declared after setting three fastest laps in a row at the session's close. "I had no traffic on that last lap. The track was clear from beginning to end." Franchitti had a challenging weekend until final qualifying, beset by brake problems. "We've struggled all weekend and didn't know what to expect after our engine change this afternoon. We experimented to gain carry-in speed to gain more time and it worked. I'm pretty happy with second place." Junqueira nearly collected a squirrel on the track, losing his concentration and taking a tour through the infield grass. "We've had some brake problems this weekend and I think it's common to everyone. I'm really proud of Team Target and the changes they made to get me here."
Kenny Brack turned a lap of 79.625 seconds (122.656mph) in the #12 Target Lola/Toyota to take fifth on the grid behind Canadian Patrick Carpentier. Jimmy Vasser, fifth in morning practice, followed that with sixth on the grid, touring the #8 Shell Lola/Ford around the track at 79.704 seconds (122.358mph). He overcame brake and traction control problems that plagued his Friday runs. Scott Dixon earned seventh starting place in the #12 Team Target Lola/Toyota, despite losing an engine in the morning on his primary car and suffering with a recalcitrant third gear in final qualifying.
Rain projected for this afternoon failed to materialize, and temperatures as the field completed the session were 80 air, 103 degrees trackside under mostly sunny skies. Similar conditions are expected for Sunday's inaugural Molson Indy Montreal, set to take the green flags for an 80-lap contest at 2pm EDT, shown live on Speed Channel. "I'm looking for a good clean start like the last few races," da Matta declared. "I think we'll see three different places for overtaking: into turn 1, into the hairpin and at the final chicane. I just hope to keep my nose clean tomorrow," he laughed.