CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: Lola Cars Saturday report

Da Matta earns 7th 2002 Cart Pole; Leads countrymen Junqueira and Kanaan in 8-Lola qualifying juggernaut. 2002 CART champion Cristiano da Matta took top spot for the 7th time this year in final qualifying for the Honda Indy 300. Driving his ...

Da Matta earns 7th 2002 Cart Pole; Leads countrymen Junqueira and Kanaan in 8-Lola qualifying juggernaut.

2002 CART champion Cristiano da Matta took top spot for the 7th time this year in final qualifying for the Honda Indy 300. Driving his #1 Caltex/Havoline Lola/Toyota around the 2.795-mile Surfers Paradise street course to a breathtaking lap of 1 minute 30.204 seconds (111.547mph), da Matta was one of 11 drivers to break the mark set Friday by countryman Bruno Junqueira after CART removed pylons from turns around the circuit. Junqueira brought the #4 Team Target to an earned second slot on the 18-car grid with a tour of 1 minute 30.214 seconds (111.535mph), just .010 seconds shy. Tony Kanaan took third place in the #10 Pioneer/WorldCom Lola/Honda with a lap of 1 minute 30.247 seconds (111.272mph).

"For sure I'm having a lot of fun here. I love this track with its chicanes, challenging corners and very hard braking," da Matta said. "We didn't make any changes for the second set of Bridgestone tires because the car was well-balanced with the first set. I know we have a good race car for tomorrow." Junqueira was disappointed not to take pole for the second day in a row, noting that he is "really frustrated to lose pole by a hundredth of a second." He had a problem with his second set of tires and had to call to the pits for a third, never able to take a flying lap. Kanaan was "quite happy with the car today," improving from fifth on the provisional grid.

Kenny Brack moved from 13th to 4th place in the #12 Team Target Lola/Toyota, lapping the 11-turn circuit at 1 minute 30.616 seconds (111.040mph). "We had a lot of traffic yesterday and I think, if not in first, we're good where we are right now," Brack smiled. Fifth went to Paul Tracy's #26 Team KOOL Green Lola/Honda, whose lap of 1 minute 30.731 seconds (110.899mph) came just before he flew through the back straight chicanes, later slapping a fence and braking his rear suspension. Scott Dixon improved his #44 Team Target Lola/Toyota to 6th on his final, 14th lap to 1 minute 30.810 seconds (110.803mph) during the hot (90-degree air, 118 track) and sunny session. Shinji Nakano earned 7th grid spot in the #52 Alpine/Mitsuba Lola/Honda, while Dario Franchitti, who had been 17th in provisional qualifying after losing two clutches on Friday in the #27 Team KOOL Green Lola/Honda got it right today, taking 8th position.

Sunday's 12th rendition of the Honda Indy 300 at Surfers Paradise in Queensland, Australia will be shown live on Speed Channel, beginning at midnight on the East Coast. No driver has ever won more than one Honda Indy 300. Cristiano da Matta, Newman/Haas Racing and Lola Cars hope to change CART history tomorrow.

-lola-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Shinji Nakano , Kenny Brack , Cristiano da Matta