Visteon/Patrick Racing's Oriol Servia earns first CART career front row start at Molson Indy Montreal. MONTREAL, QUEBEC, CANADA - SATURDAY AUGUST 23, 2003 -- Round ...
Visteon/Patrick Racing's Oriol Servia earns first CART career front row start at Molson Indy Montreal.
MONTREAL, QUEBEC, CANADA - SATURDAY AUGUST 23, 2003 -- Round #14 - 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- Visteon/Patrick Racing driver Oriol Servia will start on the front row for the first time in his CART career in tomorrow's Molson Indy Montreal on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Servia, who drives the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing entry, which is powered by Ford/Cosworth and uses a Lola chassis with Bridgestone tires, was fourth on the speed charts following today's final qualifying session. However, because he captured the provisional pole yesterday, under CART's new qualifying rules he qualified, and will start, second. Servia's quick lap in final qualifying was 79.757 seconds (122.276 mph), just .092 of a second off the pole time. The 29-year-old Spaniard's previous best qualifying position was third at Texas in 2001 (race was cancelled) and while he technically qualified fourth based on his time, under the new rules this weekend's effort is a new career high. Servia's highest previous starting position was fourth, first achieved at Nazareth in 2001, and then matched four times this year (Monterrey, Mexico; Brands Hatch, England, Cleveland, Ohio and Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin).
Servia dominated yesterday's action turning a fast lap of 81.112 seconds (120.234 mph) in provisional qualifying. He continued his spectacular run into this morning's 75-minute practice. With the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team quietly and efficiently making some slight modifications to the setup to adjust for today's cooler weather, Servia continued to top the speed charts turning a fast time of 80.623 seconds (120.963 mph).
During the ten-minute warm-up prior to final qualifying Servia basically just shook down the car, but managed a quick lap of 81.296 seconds (119.962 mph), which was good for fifth on the individual session practice report, but still left on top of the combined report. In a total of five practices and one qualifying session prior to final qualifying Servia top the speed charts five times.
With final qualifying at hand and a front row starting position locked up based on yesterday's provisional pole, the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team had the luxury of being able to wait until late in the session when track conditions were at their optimum. With 25 minutes remaining in the 40-minute qualifying session Servia went out for his first stint. He moved into seventh place on his fourth lap with a time of 80.482 seconds. Two laps later he turned his quickest lap on the sixth of his eight lap first segment. His quick time at that point was 80.134 seconds, which placed him solidly in seventh.
Servia went out for his second stint with nine minutes left in the session. He used the first three laps to get up to speed and then on the fourth lap of the second segment, his 12th overall, Servia ran his fastest time of the weekend, which pushed him into third place. His used the next lap to create some space and on his final timed lap was going faster, but pushed the car a little to hard in the hairpin. Servia was able to correct, but the effort cost him the quick lap. At that point Michel Jourdain slipped past dropping Servia to fourth on the speed charts.
"I am definitely happy," Servia said. "The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team has worked very hard all year and we deserve to be on the front row for tomorrow's race. We had the provisional pole yesterday, so we knew we had the front row for the race, but we were still fighting for the pole again today," he noted. "We knew it was going to be tight today in qualifying.and it was. There are seven drivers within .2 of the pole and I am only .09 from the pole. I needed to give all that I had and actually on the last lap I had the pole. I was almost .2 quicker than my best time, but I knew I had to go for more and I guess I asked for a little too much in the hairpin and I lost it there. But that is qualifying for you. You need to go for everything. I did it yesterday, but today we were a little short," Servia explained.
Servia went on to say, "The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team has been very close to taking some poles and winning some races this year. This is just my first year with the team and we have been so close a couple of times. We have been knocking on the door, but it just wouldn't open. This weekend we made some big gains forward. We just did everything better this weekend then the other weekends. The Visteon/Patrick Racing car was good right from the start and I have been driving well. So, I think we are on the right track."
Commenting on tomorrow's race Servia said, "It is going to be a close race. It is a long race, with lots of pit stops and this is a track that it is easy to make a mistake because of the hard braking areas. The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team just has to stay focused and hopefully, we can take advantage of our starting position and get the victory tomorrow. I am very happy and excited to see what happens tomorrow."
Servia will be making his second start in a champ car in Montreal tomorrow. Last year, he also dominated in practice, but fell victim to an engine problem in qualifying and started 14th. In the race he experienced a mechanical problem and finished 16th.
The resident of Miami, Florida will be attempting to snap a streak of three consecutive DNFs (did not finish) tomorrow. Although he is going through a difficult stretch, Servia has already had the best season of his four-year CART career. He has scored points in nine of the 13 races this year and has finished in the top-six in seven of his last ten events. Servia has earned a single season high five top-five finishes including a CART career best second place showing (Milwaukee). Additionally, he has set personal CART career records for consecutive top-six finishes, seven, top-10 showings, seven and points paying performances, eight. Servia is currently seventh in the championship standings with 77 points.
Servia will be making his 67th career CART start and 24th for Visteon/Patrick Racing tomorrow. In 66 CART career events he has earned 30 top-ten finishes including 11 top-five showings with two podium performances. In his 23 starts with Visteon/Patrick Racing, 10 in 2002 and 13 this year, Servia has finished in the points 14 times with 11 top-10 finishes including seven top-five showings and one podium (Milwaukee).
The Molson Indy Montreal will be televised tape delayed on Speed Channel on Sunday, August 24, at 9:00 PM (ET). The pre-race show will begin at 8:30 PM (ET).
For background, statistical information, releases, notes, quotes plus updates on race weekends, go to (www.patrickracing.com).