MONTERREY, MEXICO - SATURDAY, MARCH 10, 2001 -- Round ...
MONTERREY, MEXICO - SATURDAY, MARCH 10, 2001 -- Round #1 of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series - Patrick Racing qualified both cars in the top-10 for tomorrow's season opening Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix presented by Herdez.
Jimmy Vasser, who was making his first qualifying effort for Patrick Racing, will start the #40 Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard in the ninth spot on the grid, while Roberto Moreno will line-up along side his teammate in the fifth row and start 10th.
With cooler weather, improving track conditions and another practice session under their belts, both Patrick Racing drivers began the day by significantly improving their times during the Saturday morning practice session. Vasser, who began the day 23rd on the practice report with a fast time of 81.585 seconds (92.841 mph), made the biggest gain. From the start of the morning practice he immediately began to move up the speed charts ending the session with a quick lap of 77.713 seconds (97.466 mph). The faster time catapulted him into the number 11 spot on the combined practice report, an improvement of 12 spots.
Moreno, piloting the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, began the day 16th on the practice charts with a time of 80.753 seconds (93.797 mph). In morning practice he also found additional speed running a fast lap of 78.154 seconds (96.916 mph). However, just as Moreno was about to go back on the track with new tires and a change, that the stint before had proved to be a big improvement, Alex Zanardi's engine let go bringing the session to a close. Despite the over two second improvement Moreno dropped to spots on the combined speed charts settling in at number 18.
In qualifying, which was run under ideal conditions, both drivers went out in the second group and posted their fastest times of the weekend. (Qualifying was divided into two groups based on the drivers finishing position in last year's final point standings with the top 14 drivers running in the second qualifying session. Because Moreno finished third and Vasser sixth they both ran in the second group.)
Vasser picked up almost 1.3 seconds, close to two mph and two positions over his fastest practice lap by turning a quick qualifying lap of 76.456 seconds (99.069 mph). Moreno showed even greater improvement bettering his practice time by almost 1.7 seconds, over 2.1 mph and eight places with a fast lap of 76.484 seconds (99.032 mph).
"The Patrick Racing team is making gains," said Vasser. "We started kind of far off the mark, but the track is getting better and we are improving the car. Hopefully, we can take it one more step for the race. If we can find just a little more grip I will have a very good race car," Vasser concluded.
Moreno was even more effusive with his analysis saying, "We had a big improvement with the Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard. I am very happy with the changes we made. We made a huge gain today. Unfortunately, I had a puncture on my second set of tires so I really never got to put in a good lap with them. What was most pleasing is that I was able to run my fast lap on the first set of tires when the circuit was a little slower."
Commenting on tomorrow's race Moreno said, "I have a very good race car and I am excited about the race. It is going to be a survival race and one where strategy is going to play a big part. That should give both Jimmy and I a little advantage because with Mr. Patrick and Jim McGee calling our races we have shown in the past that we are up to the challenge."
(Note: Vasser will carry OXXO sponsorship for the Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix. OXXO is a chain of Mexican convenience stores.)
The Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix presented by Herdez will take place tomorrow, Sunday, March 11 at 3:00 p.m. (CT) and will be televised live on ABC.