CHAMPCAR/CART: Tagliani takes hometown pole

CHAMPCAR/CART: Tagliani takes hometown pole

Alex Tagliani won the pole for tomorrow's Molson Indy Montreal today with a flying lap of 1:19.665 seconds (122.418 mph) over the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The Montreal native's success was greeted with loud cheers from his hometown fans after...

Alex Tagliani won the pole for tomorrow's Molson Indy Montreal today with a flying lap of 1:19.665 seconds (122.418 mph) over the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The Montreal native's success was greeted with loud cheers from his hometown fans after the pole win, Tagliani's fifth, and his second with the impressive first-year team of Rocketsports. Tagliani will start alongside yesterday's fast qualifier, Oriol Servia.

Alex Tagliani.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
Servia was fourth-fastest today, but that was not indicative of any problem for the young veteran driver, only a feature of the closeness of the lap times at the front of the grid. Servia's time was less than one-tenth of a second slower than Tagliani's pole time. Another example: Mario Haberfeld's fast lap was within one second of the pole over the 2.7 miles of the Ile Notre Dame circuit, but was only good enough for twelfth place on tomorrow's grid.

Series points leader Paul Tracy had an uncharacteristic session. He finished the day in 8th starting position, after struggling through the session with a car that was uneasy under braking on new tires. Tracy was looking at a larger picture though, his eyes on winning his first Champ Car championship. "The key is to be patient and try to finish the race ahead of Bruno," he said.

Tracy's championship rival, Bruno Junqueira, was second fastest this afternoon (by only 0.006 seconds!) and will start third. If Junquiera was upset at missing the pole by such a small amount, he hid it well. The Newman/Haas Racing driver explained his shortfall with humor: "I think at the end of the day I lost the pole because there was a rest room by our stall, out there by the box of the pit area. Every time before every practice I go there, I have a pee and go. I don't know what happened today but for qualifying, I went to go there and there was no restroom."

Michel Jourdain, Jr. had a good session today, jumping up the order to third fastest with only three minutes remaining today. His session had ended early yesterday with an engine failure, so a better session today left him pleased to start fourth.

Another driver eager for a good day was Patrick Carpentier. Another favorite of the Quebecois crowd, Carpentier didn't record a time in yesterday's session after his engine expired in the pre-qualifying warmup. Like Tracy, his Team Forsythe teammate, Carpentier complained of brake trouble on a circuit where good brakes are essential. He said that his team had a plan to correct the problem: "For the race, Team Player's will modify the brakes' air intakes to cool them. We used bigger ducts today, but I guess they were not big enough. We will have to find the right ones because we don't want to affect the aerodynamics of the car." Carpentier will start fifth.

Sebastien Bourdais, Newman/Haas Racing's rookie star, was disppointed to only qualify sixth after sitting in fourth a day ago. He realized though that the close grid had a lot to do with those results. "The times are so close. With two tenths more we could be on pole" he said.

Jimmy Vasser will start inside of Tracy on row 4, in the fastest Reynard chassis today. Vasser was third-fastest on his first set of tires today, but he couldn't get a clear lap to improve on that time on his second set of tires.

Vasser's American Spirit Team Johansson teammate, Ryan Hunter-Reay, had battled for the "fastest Reynard driver" title with Vasser and Walker Racing's Darren Manning for most of the weekend, but his crash in this morning's practice session put him in the backup car this afternoon. Sorting the second chassis detracted from the team's effort and left Hunter-Reay to start 14th.

Manning blamed a poor choice on a setup change before qualifying for his ninth spot on the grid. "We haven't been outside the top-six this weekend" he reported accurately.

Herdez Racing's Mario Dominguez will start tomorrow's race from tenth place, today's run also falling short of his goal. "We were aiming for a top-five grid position so we are a little disappointed." He said.

The Champ Car Molson Indy Montreal will get the green flag tomorrow at 2:00 pm. EDT.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Mario Haberfeld , Darren Manning , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Mario Dominguez , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais , Eric Gilbert , Michel Jourdain