CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto: Saturday qualifying report

Sebastien Bourdais Wins Champ Car Toronto Pole TORONTO (July 10, 2004) -- The Canadian drivers of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford may be getting the lion's share of the ink this weekend at the Molson Indy ...

Sebastien Bourdais Wins Champ Car Toronto Pole

TORONTO (July 10, 2004) -- The Canadian drivers of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford may be getting the lion's share of the ink this weekend at the Molson Indy Toronto, but Sunday morning's headlines will see all the drivers reading about the exploits of Sebastien Bourdais (#2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone).

Bourdais earned his third pole of the Champ Car World Series season and the eighth of his nascent career as he snapped off a blistering lap of 58.558 (107.893 mph) to lead the 18-car field on a picture-perfect Saturday afternoon in downtown Toronto. Bourdais used his fifth lap of the day to set the best time and then had to sweat out nearly 10 more minutes while the rest of the field took their shots at unseating him.

In the end, the time of the Newman/Haas Racing pilot would prove to quick to overcome as the French sophomore earned his fifth front-row starting spot in his six 2004 starts. He becomes the first driver since Juan Montoya in 2000 to start each of the season's first six races from the top three and also takes the Greg Moore Pole Award for winning the Toronto pole.

The session took a few minutes to get rolling as the drivers tried to wait until the track was at its best, but it was worth the wait as fans were greeted with a flurry of changes atop the score sheets. Five drivers swapped the pole between themselves near the middle of the session before Bourdais vaulted to the top. He carded a 58.704 to take the pole, then negotiated the 1.755-mile street course once more on his first set of tires and set what would be the eventual polewinning time.

Paul Tracy (#1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will start second as he looks to defend his 2003 Molson Indy Toronto title, earning the front row spot by virtue of leading Friday's first-round of qualifying. The defending series champion posted the fourth-best time of the day but will start on the front row for the second week in a row, coming off a polewinning effort in Cleveland.

Bourdais' teammate Bruno Junqueira (#6 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) made him hold his breath through the very last minute of the session as the series points leader used his last trip around the Toronto course to climb one spot on the speed sheets to snare the third spot. Junqueira had been sixth before vaulting to the third spot on his last stint with a best time of 58.842 seconds (107.372 mph). Junqueira saw his series lead whittled to two points over his NHR teammate after Bourdais took his 131st point of the year by winning the pole.

Mario Dominguez (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) had the toughest break of the day but still posted his best qualifying effort since Milwaukee. Dominguez was the first driver of the weekend to break the 59-second barrier with a best lap of 58.899 seconds (107.268 mph), but had to turn down a runoff area on his very next pass with smoke rolling from beneath the engine cover. He would be unable to resume the session and had to stand on the time, but it would be good enough for the fourth spot on the charts.

Rookie points leader Justin Wilson (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) rounded out the top five and was one of the quintet that actually held the pole during the session, marking the ex-Formula 1 driver's fourth top-five start of the season. Wilson earned the first front-row start of his career last week in Cleveland but was taken out in a first-turn incident.

Canadian favorite Patrick Carpentier (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) started the frenzy off Pit Lane after being the first driver under 60 seconds on the day, then put up a top lap of 59.200 seconds (106.723 mph) to score the sixth spot, an improvement of four positions over his first-round effort.

Former Toyota Atlantic frontrunners Ryan Hunter-Reay (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and A.J. Allmendinger (#10 BG Products/Red Bull Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) used their previous Toronto experience to take the seventh and eighth spots on the day while embattled Canadian Alex Tagliani (#8 Johnson Controls Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Oriol Servia (#11 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) rounded out the top 10.

Tomorrow's 95-lap event will begin at 1:30 Eastern Time and can be seen live on HDNet, and on a tape-delayed basis on Spike TV at 4 p.m. Fans can also follow the action live on the official website of the Champ Car World Series, by using the new Race Director feature.


SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think everybody got quicker and quicker and quicker. That's why everybody wants to wait really. I think when we tried the first time, the track was at its best pretty much, and I think I've been able to put like three laps in a row very clean and clear and just building at the speed, and that's working pretty well with these tires. You know, I'm just glad that the setup was pretty correct. I really thank the McDonald's team because they did a great job.

PAUL TRACY: Well, I think it was a little bit frustrating. We didn't have the type of car we had yesterday. It was quicker, but we made some changes this morning. The car just really didn't respond as well as we wanted it to. Again, like I said, it was faster, but it was a lot of work to drive it. It wasn't as easy to do the time as it was yesterday. A little bit of a mixed bag of everything, handling, a little bit of oversteer, a little bit of understeer. Obviously, it was a fantastic lap by Sebastien and we weren't close enough to it. But we got the job done on Friday, which puts us on the front row, which is great.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think today was a very, very difficult qualifying session. I was very much under pressure. Was a lot of traffic. The first set of tires didn't get -- the last lap was clear, but still not at full speed. And at one point, I was eight. Then I had like a lap left, and I knew that I had to improve my position. At that time I was fifth. I knew that maybe I couldn't go too fast, otherwise if I make a mistake, I would start fifth. Then I put a safe lap that guaranteed me the second fastest on the session, but third for the start.


Sebastien Bourdais' pole is the eighth of his career, tying him with Bruno Junqueira, Jimmy Vasser and Texan Lloyd Ruby for 30th on the all-time Champ Car list.

Memo Gidley ran in a Champ Car qualifying session for the first time since the end of the 2001 season, taking over for Nelson Philippe in the #17 Lease Plan Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. Gidley ran in morning practice, then put up a best time of 61.497 seconds (102.737 mph) and will start 18th.

Today's crowd was announced at 49,953, boosting the two-day Molson Indy Toronto total to 91,657

Today's track temperatures as reported by Bridgestone tire technicians were 108-114 degrees Fahrenheit on the track with the air temperature registering at 81 degrees.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Jimmy Vasser , Memo Gidley , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Mario Dominguez , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Nelson Philippe , Lloyd Ruby , Greg Moore