Lola drivers take eight top Molson Indy qualifying slots: boys from Belo Horizonte dominate once again. Cristiano da Matta and Bruno Junqueira continued their personal battle for Champ Car supremacy in provisional qualifying for Sunday's Molson...
Lola drivers take eight top Molson Indy qualifying slots: boys from Belo Horizonte dominate once again.
Cristiano da Matta and Bruno Junqueira continued their personal battle for Champ Car supremacy in provisional qualifying for Sunday's Molson Indy Toronto, leading the speed charts on the 1.755-mile street circuit at Exhibition Place. Da Matta claimed the top spot in his #6 Havoline Lola/Toyota at 58.487 seconds (108.024mph), just .237 seconds over Junqueira's quick lap of 58.724 seconds (107.588mph) in the #4 Team Target Lola/Toyota.
Despite crashing his car under braking at the end of Toronto's long back straight, da Matta kept his quick time as he parked his disabled car off the racing line and did not cause a caution period. "This kind of thing happens when you're trying hard," da Matta shrugged. He set his quick lap early in the proceedings and "I wasn't 100% sure I could improve. I went in too deep and lost the rear."
Da Matta earned one championship point to lead Junqueira by 26. "I just couldn't go better," Junqueira admitted. "What else can I do? Lock him in a restroom before qualifying?" he joked. "Our consistent results are important. If I can be in the top five and wait for Cristiano to struggle a little bit, I'll be there."
Pleasing the partisan crowd, local Paul Tracy placed third in the #27 Team KOOL Green Lola/Honda, Tracy turning his quick lap of 58.953 seconds (107.170mph) as the checkered flags flew to end the hour-long session. "This our first street course race in the Lola. The car keeps getting better and better and we've only just scratched the surface in terms of setup. I think we can improve and take pole if we can get some clear laps tomorrow," Tracy declared.
The top 14 of 18 entrants qualified today within one second on a pleasant, partly cloudy afternoon, when track temperatures ranged from 107-121 and air temps hovered at 80-84 degrees. Kenny Brack was 4th in the #12 Team Target, Dario Franchitti took 5th in the #27 Team KOOL Green Lola/Honda, saying, "I'm going to see what Paul had!" Scott Dixon earned 6th in the #44 Team Target Lola/Toyota, Christian Fittipaldi was 7th (#11 Lilly Lola/Toyota) and Jimmy Vasser (#8 Shell Lola/Ford) completed the top eight.
Final qualifying takes place Saturday at 1:45-2:45pm EDT, and the 17th annual Molson Indy Toronto takes the green flag at 1:30pm Sunday, carried live by CBS Sports.