As he prepares to make his Champ Car debut at Nazareth Speedway, PPI Motorsports rookie Oriol ServiÃ knows that consistency has been the key in his previous trips there. In two years of Indy Lights competition (1998-99), ServiÃ earned one ...
As he prepares to make his Champ Car debut at Nazareth Speedway, PPI Motorsports rookie Oriol Servià knows that consistency has been the key in his previous trips there.
In two years of Indy Lights competition (1998-99), Servià earned one pole position (1999), two front-row starts, one second-place finish (1999) and 13 laps led (1999). His pole last year followed up on his second-place start in 1998 (next to then-polesitter and current teammate Cristiano da Matta).
"I like the Nazareth track, so I am definitely looking forward to the event," Servià said. "It will be my first CART race on a short oval. I try not to predict how it will feel, because I don't want to have any false expectations. We are still working very hard to develop a good oval package, although Cristiano (da Matta) in Miami had a good finish even though his car was not perfect. My goal in Nazareth is to finish, and finish well."
Consistency was the key for Servià in winning the 1999 Dayton Indy Lights Championship title. Although he never won a race, the second-year Lights driver notched the points lead through consistent podium finishes. Servià claimed a season-high three pole positions and seven consecutive top-five finishes (five of which were seconds) and completed all but two races.
In the 1998 Indy Lights event at Nazareth, Servià and da Matta shared the front row on the starting grid. Servià, an Indy Lights rookie, started second after da Matta stole the pole with a time just .255 seconds ahead of Servià's qualifying effort. Servià experienced trouble in the race and fell back to 13th, while da Matta led every lap to the win.
Servià is the second consecutive Indy Lights champion to step up to his Champ Car debut with PPI Motorsports. Current teammate and 1998 Indy Lights champion Cristiano da Matta joined the team last season and returns for his second year in CART.
The strength of the team will be a plus for the young driver. Before the day ended early in Miami, the Telefonica crew guided Servià through his first Champ Car pit stop -- which was also the first pit stop of Servià's racing career. The team provided four fresh tires and a full tank of fuel in 39.363 seconds, a time that ranked the stop 11th fastest of the 52 pit stops completed by 20 cars on race day. (Note: Some of the top ten stops did not involve tire changes and/or full tank fills; and five cars were out of the race before needing to be serviced.)