CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto: Patrick Racing Saturday report

Visteon/Patrick Racing's Oriol Servia looking for birthday present at Molson Indy Toronto Servia qualifies eight for tomorrow's race TORONTO, CANADA - SATURDAY, JULY 12, 2003 -- Round ...

Visteon/Patrick Racing's Oriol Servia looking for birthday present at Molson Indy Toronto
Servia qualifies eight for tomorrow's race

TORONTO, CANADA - SATURDAY, JULY 12, 2003 -- Round #10 - 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- Visteon/Patrick Racing driver Oriol Servia will try to give himself the best present possible as he seeks his first CART career victory on his birthday, Sunday, July 13, in the Molson Indy Toronto in Toronto, Canada.

The 28-year-old Spaniard, who qualified eighth today with a fast lap of 58.502 seconds (129.596 mph), will start on the outside of Row #4 on the challenging 1.755-mile, 11-turn Exhibition Place temporary street circuit.

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, began the day fourth on the grid following Friday's provisional qualifying with a time of 60.009 seconds (105.284 mph). In this morning's practice there was a constant light rain, but teams nevertheless used dry tires. The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team continued to fine-tune the car making minor setup changes and working with the brakes. During the session Servia ran a fast time of 60.625 seconds (104.214 mph) placing him seventh on both the individual and combined practice reports.

For qualifying, weather was once again a factor. With a slight drizzle falling and heavier rain a distinct possibility, the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team decided to go out on their first set of tires right at the start of the session. After getting his tires up to temperature, Servia immediately ran a fast lap of 59.875 seconds (105.520 mph) putting him second on the speed charts after just four laps. Unfortunately, traffic prevented him from getting a clear lap the next three times around the circuit. When a red flag brought a halt to his first stint after seven laps, Servia was sitting in third place. The team put on the second set of tires and then began to watch the weather. With ten minutes remaining and track conditions at their optimum Servia went out for his second stint. Unfortunately, it was one of those days when things just won't go his way. During his final stint Servia never got a clean lap, again due to traffic, while other competitors managed to post their fastest times. By the end of qualifying Servia had dropped to eighth.

"The Visteon/Patrick Racing car was definitely a top-four car today," Servia began. "The balance was great. We didn't have quite enough traction to contend for the pole, but we should have qualified higher," he noted. "Today was one of those qualifying sessions that rarely happen. I got one clear lap without somebody getting in the way. It wasn't intentional and it wasn't anybody's fault, just bad luck. We would catch someone coming out of the pits at the start of a good lap, so I would slow down to create some space then get the car back up to speed and catch someone else. Every lap I found someone. The only lap I got clean was the one that it rained the most. It was just awful timing and very frustrating," Servia explained. "The good news is the car handles well and you can pass on this circuit so I am looking forward to a good race," he concluded.

Servia will be making his tenth consecutive start in the top-10, which is his CART career high. The eighth place starting position is also Servia's highest in three attempts at Toronto. He qualified 11th and finished 11th in 2000 and started 11th and placed 23rd in 2001.

In addition to giving himself a birthday present the talented resident of Miami, Florida will be trying to extend several personal CART career best streaks in tomorrow's race. Servia has placed in the top-six in six consecutive races, finished in the top-10 six straight times and scored points in seven consecutive contests. Additionally, Servia has set or tied his career high showing at five of the seven tracks CART has raced on in the past, including career best performances in the last four events. He has finished in the top-five four times this year, which is a career high for a single season and scored a CART career highest finish of second at Milwaukee. Servia has finished in the points in eight of the nine events this year and is sixth in the standings with 66 points.

Servia, who is in his fourth season, will be making his 63rd career CART start and 20th for Visteon/Patrick Racing this weekend. In 62 CART career events he has earned 29 top-ten finishes including ten top-five showings with two podium performances. In his 19 starts with Visteon/Patrick Racing, 10 in 2002 and nine this year, Servia has finished in the points 13 times with ten top-10 finishes including six top-five showings and one podium (Milwaukee).

Patrick Racing will be making their 31st start in Toronto tomorrow. In 20 previous appearances in Toronto the team has qualified in the top-10 a total of 13 times with seven top-five starts and two poles (Emerson Fittipaldi - 1986 and 1989). They have finished in the top-10 a total of 12 times including six top five showings with one victory (Fittipaldi - 1987).

The Molson Indy Toronto will be televised live on CBS on Sunday, July 13 at 12:30 PM (ET).

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Oriol Servia