Saturday morning dawned with sunny skies overhead in Toronto, a welcome change from Friday, when the weather was overcast at best and monsoon-like at worst. The CART morning practice thus saw everyone with an equal chance to work on the setup of...
Saturday morning dawned with sunny skies overhead in Toronto, a welcome change from Friday, when the weather was overcast at best and monsoon-like at worst. The CART morning practice thus saw everyone with an equal chance to work on the setup of the car, get to know the track better - and to attempt to set a competitive time.
And competitive it was: Christian Fittipaldi, the fastest to the rained-upon first qualifying group on Friday, topped the timesheets in the early going in his Lola-Ford, and stayed on top for most of the 90-minute practice session. With an initial time of 58.800, he was already ahead of Franchitti's Friday qualifying time of 58.877. He would eventually improve that to 58.298, but that would still not be enough to hold off the charging Juan Montoya, who claimed the top spot with a time of 58.198 in his Lola-Toyota - although he did succeed in clearly besting his teammate, Michael Andretti, who finished in third.
Cristiano da Matta, who was never truly competitive in the Friday qualifying session, some two-and-a-half seconds off the pace, found a much better setup this morning, and squeezed into fifth place, behind Paul Tracy's Honda-powered Reynard. Tracy and da Matta were the first Reynards in a session that saw the Lola chassis clearly at the top of the timesheets.
Kenny Brack and Fittipaldi had battled in the rain during Friday's wet qualifying session for the first group, with Fittipaldi finding the slight edge on the soaked track to snatch the prestigious 12th grid position away from the young Swede.
"We lost some time [working on a dry setup] on Friday," said Brack. "There is never really enough time to find the perfect setup." Still, Brack improved strongly as well, and placed his Reynard-Ford in 9th place, despite doing considerably fewer laps than Fittipaldi and da Matta.
The weather forecast for the afternoon, though, still calls for showers and thunderstorms. Will the weather stay dry long enough to allow both qualifying sessions to finish? Stay tuned for yet another weather lottery ...