CHAMPCAR/CART: Tracy back on top for Brands Hatch practice two

CHAMPCAR/CART: Tracy back on top for Brands Hatch practice two

Paul Tracy claimed the now-familiar top spot for the second practice for the London Champ Car trophy at Brands hatch. The Canadian veteran driver led for most of the session and was still pushing hard at the end of the session, when he spun off...

Paul Tracy claimed the now-familiar top spot for the second practice for the London Champ Car trophy at Brands hatch. The Canadian veteran driver led for most of the session and was still pushing hard at the end of the session, when he spun off and brought out the red flags.

Sebastien Bourdais finished the session in second place and Alex Tagliani made a late charge to move up to third.

Paul Tracy.
Photo by Michael Kim.
Bruno Junqueira led out the long queue of cars onto the track for the second session, including Adrian Fernandez who was using the spare car after he damaged his original car in the first session. The weather conditions for this session were slightly cooler than the first session.

The times fell quickly with Bourdais regularly at the top of the timing screens. Paul Tracy, Bruno Junqueira and Darren Manning then all came out at the same time and started trading fastest laps. Manning eventually went fastest and then pitted leaving Tracy to go quicker. His time of 37.702s, set during the warmest part of the session, remained fastest for half of the session.

The pace of this session was a lot more frantic that the first session. The drivers were setting competitive times straight away and, with the exception of Fernandez, all were under 40s within a handful of laps. Fernandez soon got up to speed and ran in the top four for most of the session before eventually dropping to ninth.

The teams were watching Manning lines closely as he has a lot of experience of the circuit from racing in lower series. Increasingly drivers were pushing towards the white lines and the kerbs, trying a variety of lines through the daunting Paddock Hill Bend, braking late into Druids and running wide at the exit of Graham Hill Bend.

As the session was starting to settle down Manning returned to the track and improved on Tracy's time by 0.1 seconds to go fastest. However the red flags were soon brought out as Oriol Servia spun at the exit of Clark Curve. The Spanish driver lost control as he turned on to the pit straight and spun across the track. He rolled along for a few metres before coming to a halt across the pit lane, causing a blockage serious enough to stop the session. The car was quickly towed away and returned to its garage and the session restarted within a few minutes.

Most drivers took to the track when the session restarted although most initially struggled to get within a couple of seconds of their fastest laps. Junqueira soon got a good run together and etched away at Tracy's time over a few laps and then went ahead of Manning by 0.002 seconds.

Drivers started to experiment overtaking moves during the session by giving each other room to see what lines were possible. It soon became clear that it is possible to run very close to other cars but the straights are quite short so the easiest way to attempt to pass is to get alongside to commit and brake late. A very popular overtaking place was the entrance to McLaren, a long sweeping right-hander which leads on to Clark Curve and then the pit straight.

The closing minutes of the session were extremely busy as most drivers came out for a final run. Bourdais set the fastest lap of the session at 37.493s and returned to the pits. Tracy responded by going 0.2s faster and then a few hundredths faster on his next lap.

Unfortunately soon afterwards he spun, bringing out the red flag. The car lazily spun to the right it straightened-up at the exit of the Druids hairpin and it crossed the track before lightly brushing the tyre wall with the nose of the car on the opposite side of the track.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Sébastien Bourdais , Graham Hill , Michael Kim