Servia to start fourth at Mario Andretti Grand Prix at Road America. ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN - SATURDAY, AUGUST 2, 2003 -- Round ...
Servia to start fourth at Mario Andretti Grand Prix at Road America.
ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN - SATURDAY, AUGUST 2, 2003 -- Round #12 - 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season - After an evening of analyzing data and a morning of setup experimentation, Visteon/Patrick Racing driver Oriol Servia qualified fourth today for Sunday's Mario Andretti Grand Prix at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Servia, behind the wheel of the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing entry, which is powered by Ford/Cosworth and uses a Lola chassis with Bridgestone tires, ran a fast lap of 1:44.314 (139.701 mph) and will start on the outside of Row #2. Today's quick lap was 1.34 seconds faster than yesterday's provisional qualifying effort and moved the 29-year-old Spaniard up six positions on the grid.
Servia, who will start in the top-10 for a personal CART career record 12th consecutive race, also tied his career high starting position first achieved in Nazareth in 2001 and now matched four times this season (Monterrey, Mexico; Brands Hatch, England; Cleveland and Elkhart Lake). Servia's best CART career qualifying position is third at Texas in 2001 (race cancelled). Additionally, Servia earned his best starting position in four attempts at Road America.
The resident of Miami, Florida started the day 10th on the grid following yesterday's provisional qualifying with a quick lap of 1:45.654 (137.929 mph). In this morning's practice the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team got an indication that they were headed in the right direction with the car's setup as Servia ran a fast time of 1:45.636 (137.953 mph). The time put him seventh on the individual practice report and eighth on the combined report after four practices sessions. More importantly, Servia was just .5 of a second off the quick time of the morning as compared to being 1.7 seconds off the pace after provisional qualifying.
Following morning practice a massive thunderstorm passed over the circuit dropping a significant amount of rain. Although the rain cleaned the built up rubber from the track, which in theory should have reduced grip, all but three drivers turned their fastest lap of the weekend in final in qualifying. The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team, which made some significant changes to the car during the break between morning practice and qualifying, decided to wait as long as possible to qualify so track conditions could improve. Servia went out for his first stint with 25 minutes remaining in the session and immediately began to move up the gird. After completing his "out" lap (first lap after coming out of the pits) he moved into 11th place on lap two, was fifth by lap three and second on lap number four. On his fifth lap he was running slightly quicker, but a red flag nullified the effort. Servia was in seventh place as he pitted with the red flag. During the down time the team made their final adjustments and put on a new set of tires. As soon as the green flag dropped Servia was back on track. He ran his out lap then warmed up with a lap of 1:46.218. On the third lap of his second stint, his eighth overall, he recorded a time of 1:44.398, which put him second on the grid. His next lap was his fastest, but placed him third. On his final lap fuel became an issue and rather than risk causing a red flag, which would have cost Servia his quick lap the team decided to slow him down. In the end Patrick Carpentier slipped by dropping Servia to fourth.
"I am just happy about the improvement the Visteon/Patrick Racing engineering staff made to the car," Servia began. "Yesterday we had a big problem with understeer everywhere on the track and today we made a big improvement in that area. The car is much better, especially in the slow corners. That is where we made most of our gain. I know this track is known for its fast corners, but I think where we really gained today was in the slow corners," he explained.
Servia went on to say, "I am very happy because the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team made a nice jump today in qualifying. Obviously, you want to be on the front row, but the second row is the next best thing. I definitely would prefer to start on the front row on the inside (pole position), but after that I really like starting on the outside at this track. From the outside I think it is a little easier to pass in Turn #1. This is a track I have always liked. I have had good races here, so I am looking forward to tomorrow."
In three previous races on the challenging 4.048-mile, 14-turn Road America road circuit Servia has qualified 14th and finished 10th in 2000, started 16th and placed 10th in 2001 and started ninth and finished 16th in 2002.
Servia, who is in his fourth CART season and second with Visteon/Patrick Racing, is looking to build on what has already been a career year. He has scored points in nine of the 11 races this year including top-six showings in seven of his last eight events and top-five showings in five of the last eight. Servia has earned a single season high five top-five finishes including a CART career best second place finish (Milwaukee). He has also set personal CART career records for consecutive top-six finishes, seven, top-10 showings, seven and points paying performances, eight. Servia is sixth in the championship standings with 76 points.
Servia, who is with his fourth CART team in three plus seasons, will be making his 65th career CART start and 22nd for Visteon/Patrick Racing tomorrow. In 64 CART career events he has earned 30 top-ten finishes including 11 top-five showings with two podium performances. In his 21 starts with Visteon/Patrick Racing, 10 in 2002 and 11 this year, Servia has finished in the points 14 times with 11 top-10 finishes including seven top- five showings and one podium (Milwaukee).
Patrick Racing will be making its 30th start at Elkhart Lake. They have now qualified in the top-10 a total of 18 times in 30 attempts. Their best starting position is fourth (Andretti - '82; Cogan - '86; Fittipaldi - '88 and Pruett - '98). In 29 previous races the team has 14 top-10 finishes, nine top-five showings and two wins (Fittipaldi - '86 and '88).
The Mario Andretti Grand Prix at Road America will be shown exclusively on the HDNet high-definition broadcast system beginning with Sunday morning's warmup at 11:00 AM (ET).
For background, statistical information, releases, notes, quotes plus updates on race weekends, go to (www.patrickracing.com).