CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto: Saturday qualifying report

DEFENDING CHAMP CAR TITLEWINNER SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS OVERCOMES PRE-QUALIFYING WALL BRUSH TO SCORE POLE FOR SUNDAY'S MOLSON INDY TORONTO TORONTO (July 9, 2005) -- The McDonald's crew that services the Newman/Haas Racing ...

DEFENDING CHAMP CAR TITLEWINNER SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS OVERCOMES PRE-QUALIFYING WALL BRUSH TO SCORE POLE FOR SUNDAY'S MOLSON INDY TORONTO

TORONTO (July 9, 2005) -- The McDonald's crew that services the Newman/Haas Racing #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone of Sebastien Bourdais performed like the drive-thru crew of its sponsor in preparations for today's Molson Indy Toronto qualifying, allowing its driver to take the top spot for Sunday's event.

Bourdais put his crew to work just 10 minutes before today's final qualifying session when he brushed one of the concrete barriers that line Toronto's Exhibition Place, shredding a right-rear tire and bending a few of his suspension parts to unnatural angles. The McDonald's crew worked feverishly to get Bourdais back in the fray, fixing the 750 hp Champ Car not only well enough to run laps, but well enough to best the entire field as he claimed the $10,000 Bridgestone Pole Award for Sunday's 88-lap event.

The result made Bourdais just the second driver in the 20-year history of the event to win consecutive poles, a starting spot where the Frenchman won from just one year ago. His lap of 58.552 seconds (107.904 mph) gave him a microscopic .002-second cushion over Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) to earn his second pole of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season.

Despite being two-thousandths off the pole, Wilson will content himself with starting third tomorrow as hometown hero Paul Tracy (#3 Mountain Grand Lodge/Avalanche Bay Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) had already secured the second spot by leading Friday's qualifying. Tracy hung the third-best time of the day on the board with a lap of 58.594 seconds (107.827 mph), beaten only by Bourdais and Wilson's lap of 58.554 seconds (107.900 mph).

Tracy wasted little time in trying to defend his Friday qualifying spot, vaulting to the top spot on the time charts just halfway through the session, making his climb just as Bourdais rolled off Pit Lane for his first qualifying attempt. He followed his chart-topping lap with a better effort just two laps later, posting what would eventually stand for his Saturday result on his eighth time around the 1.755-mile Toronto layout.

Tracy's blistering run sparked the rest of the field to new fury as Alex Tagliani (#15 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Oriol Servia (#2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) immediately started their assaults on the pole, trading the second and third spots between themselves in rapid fashion. Meanwhile, Bourdais rolled off Pit Lane with 15 minutes remaining in the session and showed right away that his crew had done its work properly.

Bourdais got under 59 seconds just two laps into his session and carded what would be his eventual polewinning time on just his fourth lap. He then dove down Pit Lane for a new sets of Bridgestone Potenzas as the field made their final runs at the top spot. RuSPORT's Wilson used his final laps to move up the ladder, posting his quickest time on the 12th of his 15 allotted laps.

Tracy came back out for his final attack with nine minutes in the session while Bourdais came out to protect his prize three minutes later, but the entire effort went for naught as an Alex Sperafico (#55 HVM Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) crash ended the qualifying session four minutes early. Sperafico, in his first appearance in the HVM Racing machine, spun into the Turn Eight tires and caused a session-ending red flag that kept anyone else from advancing on the Frenchman's grid position.

The pole is the 15th of Bourdais' career, making him one of just 14 drivers in Champ Car history to reach that number. He also joins Tracy as the only drivers to win multiple poles in 2005, moving him into a tie with Tracy for the year-end Bridgestone Pole Award, which is worth $30,000 to the winner.

Servia ended up improving five spots from his Friday position, scoring the fourth spot on the grid with a time of 58.795 seconds (107.458 mph). The qualifying result gives Servia his best starting spot in the four races since joining the Newman/Haas Racing team in relief of the injured Bruno Junqueira.

Tagliani ended up in the fifth spot after running the day's final 58-second lap, and will grid alongside Forsythe Championship Racing's Mario Dominguez (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who starts sixth. PKV Racing will comprise the fourth row with Milwaukee polesitter Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Portland's top qualifier Cristiano da Matta (#21 Bell Micro Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) taking the seventh and eighth spots respectively.

A.J. Allmendinger (#10 Western Union Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will claim the ninth spot on the grid alongside Nelson Philippe (#34 Wellbox Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). The young Frenchman finished 10th after a lap of 59.448 seconds (106.278 mph) to earn the first top-10 qualifying result of his young Champ Car career. Ricardo Sperafico (#11 Sonny's Real Pit BBQ Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) also earned a career-best qualifying result after taking the 13th spot on the grid. Ryan Dalziel (#19 American Medical Response Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will start 16th in his Champ Car debut tomorrow.

The 88-lap Molson Indy Toronto will take place Sunday afternoon beginning at 1:00 p.m. Live coverage of the race will begin at 12:30 p.m. on CBS Sports.

QUOTES FROM TOP THREE QUALIFIERS:

Sebastien Bourdais: "Well, it feels good to be back up front. We've had some ups and downs this year. Obviously, today everything went well. Just made a mistake personally in the 15-minute practice. The McDonald's crew did an awesome job to put the thing together, to bring it on time so I could have the chance to challenge for the pole position. As you can see, the position is getting really tough. Both PT and Justin could have probably ended up on pole also. It's just a matter of not real luck, but just a bit of success. I guess today was for us."

Paul Tracy: "It went as well as it could go, I guess. I'm pretty disappointed with Cristiano (da Matta). I had a lap that was up until two corners from the end. We were 2/10ths quicker than my quick lap. He was starting another lap and didn't let me go. So it's pretty frustrating. Then I had to back up and start another lap. The red came out. A little bit disappointed that the time is there in the car and we just didn't get it on the racetrack. But the car's better than yesterday.

Justin Wilson: "Yeah, it's very close, and it just shows how competitive the championship is these days. After yesterday's performance, we're very pleased to have made this jump to go from seventh up to third. It's quite an improvement. I'm just pleased with the whole team, the way they've kept working at it. Myself and my engineer have given the guys quite a bit of work today. But they've not complained and they've done it."

NOTEWORTHY

* Today's qualifying session saw the top two competitors separated by a scant .002 seconds, marking the closest qualifying session since the Belle Isle event in 2000 where Juan Montoya and Dario Franchitti were tied after final qualifying.

* Sebastien Bourdais became the second driver to win consecutive poles in Toronto, matching Dario Franchitti, who won Toronto poles in 1997 and '98.

* Bourdais broke a four-way tie for 14th on the all-time Champ Car pole list, moving into sole possession of the 14th position. He stands one pole behind two-time series champion Gil de Ferran on the list.

-ccws-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Ryan Dalziel , Justin Wilson , Gil de Ferran , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Oriol Servia , Mario Dominguez , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Alex Sperafico , Nelson Philippe , Cristiano da Matta
Teams HVM Racing