CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto: PKV Racing Friday report

PKV RACING'S DA MATTA FOURTH, VASSER SIXTH ON PROVISIONAL GRID FOR MOLSON INDY TORONTO TORONTO, CANADA -- FRIDAY, JULY 8, 2005 -- Round ...

PKV RACING'S DA MATTA FOURTH, VASSER SIXTH ON PROVISIONAL GRID FOR MOLSON INDY TORONTO

TORONTO, CANADA -- FRIDAY, JULY 8, 2005 -- Round #6 -- 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing's Cristiano da Matta is fourth and teammate Jimmy Vasser sixth following today's provisional qualifying for Sunday's Molson Indy Toronto at Exhibition Place in Toronto, Canada.

Da Matta had a fast lap of 59.372 seconds (106.414 mph) in the #21 Bell Micro/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. The 31-year-Brazilian was never lower than sixth on the speed charts beginning with morning practice. In the first practice session, he had a quick lap of 60.780 seconds (103.949 mph) placing him sixth on the speed charts. After analyzing the data the PKV Racing engineering staff came up with some changes and during the 15 minute afternoon warm-up prior to qualifying, da Matta gave an indication that the car was improved by turning a fast time of 60.499 seconds (104.431mph). The time placed him third on the individual practice report, but left him sixth on the combined report.

"I think the Bell Micro/PKV Racing team had a pretty good result today in provisional qualifying," da Matta said. "We are in the top-five, which is a good for the first day," he noted. "The PKV Racing team still has some work to do. We are a good half a second behind the leaders, so we have to find at least a part of that tomorrow. Jimmy (teammate Jimmy Vasser) and I will sit down with the PKV Racing engineers and go over the data and I am confident that we can find some more speed for final qualifying," da Matta concluded.

Da Matta, who is contesting his fifth Champ Car season, will be making his 85th career start and fifth in Toronto. In four previous races at Exhibition Place he has qualified in the top-10 twice including the one pole in 2002 and a second place starting position in 2000. The resident of Miami, FL has finished in the top-10 twice including a win in 2002 and a fourth place showing in 2000. Da Matta will also be looking to take back-to-back wins on a track that he is not the defending champion for the third time this season. In 2002, he won from the pole in Portland, Monterrey and Toronto. This year da Matta qualified ninth and finished sixth in Monterrey then qualified 10th and finished first in Portland.

Da Matta has had exceptionally strong performances in his last two races. He had the win in Portland then started on the front row for the first time since Australia in 2002 in Cleveland. In the Cleveland race he was pulling away from the field when he came upon some lapped traffic, lost air on his front wing and crashed.

Da Matta has qualified in the top-10 at all five events this year including twice in the top five (the second place starting position in Cleveland followed by a fourth in Milwaukee). He has finished in the top-10 in three of the five races placing 10th in Long Beach and sixth in Monterrey to go with the win in Portland. The 2002 Series Champion is sixth in the championship standings with 80 points.

Vasser provisionally qualified the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine sixth with a time of 59.507 seconds (106.172 mph). The 39-year-old Californian was seventh in the morning practice with a quick lap of 60.845 seconds (103.838 mph).and fourth in the warm-up with a 60.502 seconds (104.426 mph) lap.

"The PKV Racing team had a good provisional qualifying session today," Vasser said. "The Bell Micro car is fourth and the Gulfstream car sixth on the provisional grid, which is one of our best performances in qualifying on a street circuit in quite some time," he noted. "The thing I am most pleased about is that we are showing some consistency and running near the sharp end of the grid. Obviously, we still have some more work to do, but it is a lot easier to try and make small changes or fine tune a car than to have to start all over because you are lost," Vasser concluded.

Now in his 14th Champ Car season, Vasser will be making his 224th career, record 203rd consecutive and 14th start in Toronto this weekend. In 13 previous events at Exhibition Place he has earned six top-10 qualifying positions with a best starting spot of second in 1995. Vasser has finished in the top-10 seven times, including two podium performances with a best showing of second in 2004.

Vasser has finished in the top-six in three consecutive races and in the top-10 in four of the first five events this year. He opened the season with a ninth place showing at Long Beach, finished 14th in in Monterrey, Mexico, a season high fifth at Milwaukee then sixth in Portland and Cleveland. The resident of Las Vegas, NV has qualified in the top-10 in four of the five events this year including taking the first pole in PKV Racing's history (Milwaukee). He has finished 139 of his last 179 races and placed in the top-10 in 127 of his 223 events including 63 top-five showings. Vasser is the only owner/driver, one of four former champions and three Americans competing in the 2005 Champ Car World Series. The 1996 Series Champion currently sits fifth in the championship race with 82 points.

PKV Racing will be making its fourth and fifth starts while competing in its third race in Toronto. In three previous starts (two races) the team has a best qualifying position of 11th by Vasser in 2004. The team has a best finish of second also by Vasser last year.

After the first five races of the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series season, PKV Racing has already established a number of team records. Da Matta scored the team's first victory in their two plus year history in Portland while Vasser earned the team's first pole in round #3 at Milwaukee. The two drivers have combined to set team records for best combined qualifying, first and fourth at Milwaukee and best combined finish, first and sixth at Portland. They have both qualified in the top-10 in four consecutive races for the first time in team history. Da Matta and Vasser have finished in the top-10 in the same race twice (eighth and 10th at Long Beach and first and sixth at Portland) this year and at least one of them has placed in the top-six in each of the last four races, which is also a team record.

There will be another practice session tomorrow morning with final qualifying set for 1:45 p.m. The Molson Indy Toronto, July 8-10, on the temporary street circuit at Exhibition Place will be televised live on CBS beginning at 12:30 p.m. (ET).

-pkv-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Cristiano da Matta