PKV RACING HAS SOLID FIRST DAY OF PRACTICE AT MOLSON INDY MONTREAL DA MATTA FIFTH, VASSER SIXTH ON PROVISIONAL GRID MONTREAL, QUEBEC, CANADA -- FRIDAY, AUGUST 26, 2005 -- Round ...
PKV RACING HAS SOLID FIRST DAY OF PRACTICE AT MOLSON INDY MONTREAL
DA MATTA FIFTH, VASSER SIXTH ON PROVISIONAL GRID
MONTREAL, QUEBEC, CANADA -- FRIDAY, AUGUST 26, 2005 -- Round #10 -- 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing had one of their best Friday practices of the season as Cristiano da Matta qualified fifth and teammate Jimmy Vasser sixth on the provisional grid for Sunday's Molson Indy Montreal at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Da Matta piloted the #21 Bell Micro/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine to a fast lap of 82.492 seconds (118.222 mph), while Vasser, behind the wheel of the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone car, ran a quick time of 82.559 seconds (118.126 mph) during a qualifying session that was shortened due to a crash involving Montreal native Andrew Ranger. No driver ran more than seven of the permitted 15 laps with both da Matta and Vasser each recording seven.
In morning practice da Matta ran the full session on just one set of tires turning a fast time of 83.775 seconds (116.412 mph) good for seventh on the speed charts. He began the 15 minute afternoon warm-up prior to qualifying on the same tires, but after switching to a new set recorded the second fastest lap of the session, and third fastest practice lap of the day, with a quick time of 83.212 seconds (117.199 mph). During qualifying, da Matta continued to show improvement during his seven lap first stint and although he ended up fifth it was obvious that the Bell Micro/PKV Racing entry was very competitive. He was never able to attempt his second stint due to Ranger's accident.
"I am pleased with the performance of the Bell Micro/PKV Racing team today," da Matta said. "It is a permanent road course, so we expected to be quicker here, but after what has happened the last couple of races I am very happy with a top-five qualifying position. I am also happy that we only a few hundredths of a second from third place," he noted.
Da Matta, who is in his fifth Champ Car season, will be making his 89th career start and second in Montreal this weekend. The resident of Miami FL, who has been as high as fifth in the championship race following a victory in Portland, is currently 11th in the championship standings with 102 points.
Da Matta started the season with three top-10 showings in the first four races including the win in Portland, which was the first in PKV Racing's two plus year history. However, in his last five races he has had a couple of strange incidents with rookies, a mechanical failure, made contact with the treacherous Turn #4 wall in San Jose (although he still finished 10th) and had a opening lap incident that knocked him from the race in Denver. Da Matta has placed in the top-10 in four of the nine races contested this year and qualified in the top-10 in eight of the nine events missing out only in San Jose. His best starting position is a second in Cleveland followed by a fourth in Milwaukee and a fifth in Edmonton. In his only start in Montreal, da Matta, who returned to Champ Car competition following a two-year stint in Formula 1, qualified on the pole and finished second.
Vasser was sixth on the morning practice report clocking a fast lap of 83.762 seconds (116.430 mph). In the afternoon warm-up the 39-year-old Californian was fifth fastest with a lap of 83.661 seconds (116.570 mph). In qualifying, Vasser, like his teammate, only got to run his first stint before the session ended with a red flag, but, again, like his teammate had not only a good car, but a competitive one.
"Not a bad first day of practice for the PKV Racing team--Cristiano is fifth and I am sixth," Vasser said. "We seem to have a better handle on the car with this tire and with road course trim instead of street circuit where we seem to have a little more trouble," he noted. "All in all it was a pretty good day for the Bell Micro and Gulfstream PKV Racing cars," Vasser concluded.
Vasser, who is competing in his 14th Champ Car season, will be making his 228th career start this weekend, which will extend his record of consecutive starts to 207. The resident of Las Vegas, NV is coming off three consecutive events where he has demonstrated the determination and professionalism that have made him both a champion and a fan favorite. In all three events, Vasser has had to overcome problems that would send most drivers to the sidelines, but only seemed to fuel his competitive nature. In two of the three events Vasser had to repeatedly pit for repairs, but continued to battle earning valuable championship points.
Vasser has finished in the top-10 in five of the nine races this year with two top-five showings, a season high fourth in Toronto and a fifth in Milwaukee. He has qualified in the top-10 in eight consecutive races and eight of the nine events this year including capturing the first pole in PKV Racing's history, at Milwaukee. Vasser is fifth in laps completed with 849 (out of a total of 938) and eighth in laps led with 27. He is tied for seventh in the championship standings with 131points.
This will be Vasser's fourth start in Montreal. In three previous races he has qualified in the top-10 twice with a best starting position of sixth in 2002. He has finished in the top-10 twice with a best showing of fifth also in 2002.
PKV Racing will be making its fourth and fifth starts while competing in its third race in Montreal. In three previous starts (two races) the team has a best qualifying position of 11th by Vasser in 2004. They have finished in the top-10 all three times with a best finish of eighth also by Vasser in 2004 (Papis, ninth in 2003 and Gonzalez, 10th in 2004).
Action for the Molson Indy Montreal will resume tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. with practice. Final qualifying is set for 2:00 p.m. Sunday's Molson Indy Montreal race will be televised live on NBC beginning at 1:30 p.m. (ET).