CHAMPCAR/CART: Montreal: Patrick Racing Friday qualifying report

Visteon/Patrick Racing has strong first day at Molson Indy Montreal; Servia qualifies sixth on provisional grid. MONTREAL, QUEBEC, CANADA -- FRIDAY, AUGUST 23, 2002 -- Round ...

Visteon/Patrick Racing has strong first day at Molson Indy Montreal; Servia qualifies sixth on provisional grid.

MONTREAL, QUEBEC, CANADA -- FRIDAY, AUGUST 23, 2002 -- Round #13 of the 2002 FedEx Championship Series - Visteon/Patrick Racing had one of its strongest first day performances of the season as driver Oriol Servia qualified sixth today on the provisional grid for Sunday's Molson Indy Montreal on the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Servia came out firing on all cylinders in this morning's practice running a fast lap of 81.012 second (120.382 mph). The quick time placed him third on the individual practice report making it the highest practice ranking a Visteon/Patrick Racing driver has had all season. The 28-year-old native of Pals, Catalonia, Spain was so impressed with the car that he told the team it was the first time he had ever finished a practice and not wanted anything changed.

In the afternoon, CART's new qualifying procedures were implemented for the first time. Instead of having a one-hour qualifying session with each team permitted to run 15 laps, CART has adjusted the system so that there is a 15-minute practice, followed by ten minutes of down time and then a 35-minute qualifying session with each team permitted to run 15 laps.

During the afternoon practice Servia was eighth on the speed charts for the session with a time of 81.872 seconds (119.118 mph), but remained third on the combined report because of his morning time. In qualifying he improved his overall time running a quick lap of 80.161 seconds (121.660 mph), but slipped to sixth on the speed charts.

"Today was a good day for the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team," Servia said. "We qualified sixth, but we need to start higher on the grid. Because the field in the FedEx Championship Series is so tight you definitely have to qualify up front if you want to have a chance to finish on the podium or win the race," he noted.

"In the morning practice the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team was third fastest and we are hoping to be in that position again, Servia continued. "I didn't have as much grip in qualifying as I did this morning. Also, I was able to go over the curbs better in morning practice. We didn't change anything, so I am not really sure where we lost grip. I think we need to chase the track a little bit," Servia explained.

Servia, who is in his third CART season (46 starts), is competing in his fourth event for Visteon/Patrick Racing and seventh of the 2002 FedEx Championship Series season. In his first three races with the team the resident of Miami, Florida has qualified 15th and finished 14th in his debut at Vancouver, qualified 12th and finished tenth at Mid-Ohio and qualified ninth and finished 16th at Elkhart Lake. However, the results do not tell the whole story. In Vancouver, Servia was in ninth place and moving up when a mechanical problem knocked him from the competition, while at Road America he was having an outstanding race, running as high as fifth, when a fuel pressure problem robbed him of a top-five finish. Today's effort is a continuation of the progress the team has made since Servia signed on a little over three weeks ago.

"The whole team is working hard to achieve our goal of winning races," Servia said. "We have made a lot of progress with the setup over the last three races and I think it is showing. The Visteon/Patrick Racing car is very fast on the quick corners and here at Montreal we have some very quick corners and chicanes so we are able to take advantage of that. We are getting closer and closer to the front and we still have qualifying tomorrow. The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team will sit down, go over the data and I think we can improve our position tomorrow in final qualifying," he concluded.

Servia, who ran the first three races of the 2002 season with Pac West Racing, has finished in the points in four of his six starts this year and in the top-ten three times including a season best sixth place showing in Japan. He has qualified in the top-ten just once, the ninth place starting position last week in Elkhart Lake, while Visteon/Patrick Racing has qualified in the top-ten in six of the 12 races this year. Servia is currently 19th in the championship race with 16 points.

The Molson Indy Montreal will be televised live on Sunday, August 25 at 2:00 PM (ET) on Speed Channel. The pre-race show will air from 1:30 - 2:00 PM (ET). Speed Channel will also televise CART Friday Night will be live to tape from 7:00 - 8:00 PM (ET); and Saturday, August 24, qualifying live from 1:30 - 3:00 PM (ET).

-pr-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Oriol Servia