CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: Lola Cars Friday report

Bruno Junqueira took a one-point bite out of Paul Tracy's 28-point championship lead (226-198) this afternoon by earning provisional pole position for Sunday's Lexmark Indy 300 at the Surfers Paradise 2.795-mile street course on the Australian...

Bruno Junqueira took a one-point bite out of Paul Tracy's 28-point championship lead (226-198) this afternoon by earning provisional pole position for Sunday's Lexmark Indy 300 at the Surfers Paradise 2.795-mile street course on the Australian Gold Coast. Driving the #1 PacifiCare Lola/Ford-Cosworth/Bridgestone Champ Car on its lap to 92.708 seconds (108.634mph), the Brazilian guaranteed himself a front-row start on a "really important weekend. It was a good day."

Setting his fast pace early in the 40-minute session, Alex Tagliani retained second in the #33 Johnson Controls Lola with a tour of 93.265 seconds (107.886mph), .557 seconds behind the leader. "The car was really, really fast," Tag said. "As the track changed it was slippery." Making his first visit to Surfer's, Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year Sebastien Bourdais took third in the #2 Lilly Lola at 93.265 seconds (107.821mph) and expressed his pleasure with this venue: "This place is beautiful and it fast, challenging and long. We had mechanical problems that frustrated us."

After leading the second, sunny practice session, Adrian Fernandez earned the fourth quickest time with a lap of 93.668 seconds (1207.422mph) in his #51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Lola even as "conditioned changed a lot. But we're not far off." Point leader Tracy was "not there today," fifth in the #3 Team PF Racing Lola at 94.161 seconds (106.860mph) after leading the first morning practice on a day that became threateningly cloudy, humid and moderately warm, 79-81 degrees at qualifying time.

Returning from a one-race hiatus, Roberto Moreno had "a pretty good run" to seventh in the #4 Herdez Lola at 94.313 seconds (106.687mph). Oriol Servia's #20 Visteon Lola was eighth at 94.317 seconds (106.682mph). Third in the point standings, Michel Jourdain Jr. got ninth in the #9 Gigante Lola at a speed of 94.447 seconds (106.536mph) and Patrick Carpentier rounded out the top ten with a lap of 94.808 seconds (106.130mph) in the #32 Team PF Racing Lola.

Junqueira may not appreciate having to chase Paul Tracy but he knows, "The close battle between myself, Paul, Michel and Sebastien has been exciting for the fans." Final qualifying sets the grid Saturday afternoon and the race airs live in the US at 12:30AM EDT on Speed TV.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Sébastien Bourdais , Michel Jourdain