VANCOUVER, CANADA - FRIDAY, AUGUST 31, 2001 -- Round ...
VANCOUVER, CANADA - FRIDAY, AUGUST 31, 2001 -- Round #15 of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series - Visteon/Patrick Racing had a strong first day of practice today in preparation for the Molson Indy Vancouver on the temporary street circuit in Vancouver, Canada.
Roberto Moreno, piloting the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard was third while teammate Jimmy Vasser, driving the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, was 14th on the combined speed charts following today's twin practice sessions.
As has become their habit over the last three races, the Visteon/Patrick Racing team came out firing on all cylinders during the 1 hour and 45 minute Friday morning practice session. Moreno ran consistently in the top-five and spent much of the morning session in the top-three. He ran his fastest time of the morning practice at the end of the session when track conditions, and grip, improved tremendously due to the rubber laid down on the Vancouver streets by the practicing cars. Moreno's quick lap was 62.323 seconds (102.877 mph) placing him fourth on the morning practice report. During the 1 hour and 15 minute afternoon practice session, Moreno continued to get quicker. He spent most of the session in the top-10, but with approximately 20 minutes remaining in the practice he climbed into the number one spot and remained there until the final lap of practice. Moreno had a fast lap of 61.506 seconds (104.243 mph) and had it not been for some traffic in the last turn of his final lap he would undoubtedly have been .2 quicker.
"The #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing team had a good day today," Moreno said. "The engineers gave me a very quick car right from the start. We worked from what we had here last year then added in what we have learned on the street circuits this year. We have been able to run very quick times with old tires, so that allowed us to save a set of tires today. We are quick happy with the development of the car. I think we have a good car for dry conditions, but also one that will be good if it happens to be wet for qualifying tomorrow," Moreno concluded.
The talented native of Brazilian has fought his way back into the top-10 in the 2001 FedEx Championship Series standings for the first time since July 1. Currently 10th in the championship race with 54 points, Moreno is trying to take the next step, which is to get into striking distance of the top-five as he attempts to climb back into the middle of the battle for the Vanderbilt cup. The tight 1.8-mile Vancouver street circuit, which places a premium on qualifying because of the lack of passing zones, seems the ideal place for the Weston, Florida resident to pick up some ground. Moreno has finished in the points in seven of eight road/street events with four top-10 showings including both his podium performances. He has finished in the points in four of the five street races with two top-10 placements and one podium, third at Detroit. Moreno is making his fifth appearance at Vancouver. In four previous appearances has qualified in the top-10 twice, the last two years, with a best starting position of sixth in 1999. His best finish is 10th last year.
Vasser was equally consistent and fast in Friday morning practice despite sitting out eight of the final 30-minutes of the session as a penalty for causing a red flag. The native of California had a fast time in morning practice of 62.378 seconds (102.786 mph), which put him fifth on the morning practice report. In the afternoon session, Vasser struggled a little as the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing team spent much of the session experimenting with a variety of different setups. Although the experimentation did not produce the desired results it did provide the team with valuable data. Vasser's fast time in the afternoon session was 62.544 seconds (102.513 mph). Therefore, it was his morning time that put him in the 14th spot on the combined practice report.
"I couldn't go as fast on new tires this afternoon as I did on old tires this morning," Vasser said. "The #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard had some handling problems. I not sure what was causing it so we want to go back to the garage and take a look at everything. Fortunately, my teammate (Roberto Moreno) ran very well so we have something to compare with and work from for tomorrow," Vasser concluded.
Vasser, who has been as high as third in the championship race, but slipped out of the top-10 following Mid-Ohio, is currently 13 in the standings with 50 points. His immediate goal is to reenter the top-10 in the point standings with the ultimate objective of rejoining the championship hunt. A repeat of his recent performances at Vancouver would go a long way toward achieving his goals. The Las Vegas, Nevada resident, who is making his tenth appearance on the streets of Vancouver, has qualified in the top-five three times with a best starting position of second in 1995. He has finished in the top-10 four times, including four of the last five years. Vasser has two podium appearances at Vancouver, second in 1997 and third in 1999.
There will be another practice session tomorrow morning from 10:00 - 11:15 AM. Qualifying will be run in two groups. The first group, including Moreno, will go out from 1:45 - 2:15 PM. The second group, including Vasser, will take to the track from 2:30 - 3:00 PM. The Molson Indy Vancouver will be run on Sunday, September 2 at 2:00 PM (PT) and will be televised live on ESPN2.