Molson Indy Vancouver Saturday Qualifying Report Franchitti takes pole; Herta is next to him CART final qualifying is done in two groups based on the drivers' times from the Friday qualifying sessions. The drivers in the first, "slow"...
Molson Indy Vancouver Saturday Qualifying Report
Franchitti takes pole; Herta is next to him
CART final qualifying is done in two groups based on the drivers' times from the Friday qualifying sessions.
The drivers in the first, "slow" group were Castro-Neves, Rahal, Pruett, Ribiero, Gordon, Vasser, Carpentier, Meier, Unser, Jourdain, Barron, Papis, Jones and Vitolo.
Rahal was the first car out, followed by Pruett, Vasser, Castro-Neves and Papis and they were starting off with times in the 1:11s. The session was quickly red-flagged when Vitolo spun and stalled going into turn 3, but it wasn't very long before both Vitolo and the session were restarted. After the return to green, Rahal was doing fast laps again, trying to improve, but couldn't do it.
About 20 minutes into the session, the times started dropping rapidly. Castro-Neves put in the 4th overall best time, followed by Carpentier with 6th, then Ribiero with a 6th place time. Carpentier stayed out and did a 1:05.118 for 4th, but was quickly displaced by Pruett with a 1:05.077. Castro-Neves surprised everyone by taking top time with a 1:04.590. More drivers joined in with a 1:04.966 from Vasser (good for 4th) and a 1:05.014 from Rahal for 6th. But, after a few minutes, the standings settled down and most everyone went into the pits.
The action picked up again towards the end of the session. The most significant moves were Rahal into 2nd with a 1:04.815 and, near the end, Pruett took P1 with a 1:04.560.
At the end of the session, the "slow" group managed to put three cars ahead of Zanardi's top time. With the exception of Alex Barron, who didn't go out, everyone in the group improved.
With the improvements made in the first group, there were high expectations for the second, "fast" group. The drivers in the second group were Zanardi, Franchitti, de Ferran, Fittipaldi, Moore, Tracy, Blundell, Gugelmin, Lehto, Kanaan, Herta, Fernandez, Andretti.
Andretti was the first car out and he was followed by everyone except Fernandez, who destroyed his primary car at the very end of the morning practice session. Fernandez eventually took to the track in his back-up car. Once the drivers settled in, the times for the front-runners were in the 1:05s, but quickly fell into the 1:04s. Those front-runners were Andretti, Kanaan, Moore, Herta, Lehto, Gugelmin, Tracy, Fittipaldi and Franchitti, who had best time with 1:04.287.
Eight minutes into the session, de Ferran hit the wall at turn 4, bounced across the track and took the nose off his car. Fortunately, he managed to get the car off-course and the session was not red-flagged. At this point, the order was Franchitti, Zanardi, Kanaan, Andretti, Tracy, Pruett (the fastest car from the first group), Castro-Neves, Hearn, Herta, Rahal, Fittipaldi, Vasser and Moore. Except for Zanardi's move up to second, de Ferran's move up the standings in his back-up car and Moore's move up to 12th, no one managed to improve for a long time, though many tried.
With ten minutes to go, the fastest drivers were out trying to improve their times and positions. First, Franchitti couldn't do it, but then put in a 1:04.130 to consolidate his P1. Moore moved up to 5th and then 3rd. Herta moved up to 3rd and then 2nd. After that, aside from de Ferran, no one was able to improve.
Then the session was over and Franchitti had pole. Meier made the biggest improvement between Friday and Saturday qualifying and was awarded the Budweiser Accelerator Award.
Driver Quotes: Michael Andretti - "It's going to be nuts. The whole race is going to be a bit of a mess." Patrick Carpentier - "We broke the roll bar on our Player's Reynard and this cost us a set of tires. The car was just not moving!" Adrian Fernandez - "We made a big improvement this morning. The car was definitely quicker and getting better. Then on my last lap I went over one of the curbs before the front straightaway and that caused me to lose all the grip and I went into the wall." Mauricio Gugelmin - "We had a lot of understeer. Push, push, push. It's not easy to drive a car like that." Richie Hearn - "I am a little concerned for the start of the race. The first few laps are going to be tough." Michel Jourdain - "The car developed a lot of understeer and every time that we make changes to stabilize it the problem gets worse." Tony Kanaan - "It was a pretty good day for us again ... I still think I could have done a little bit better, but it was my mistake." JJ Lehto - "We had a good car when we started the weekend, when the circuit was green, dirty and slippery. The grip level was very high, but now we're struggling with massive understeering. We just can't get rid of the understeer in the car." Arnd Meier - "The car was very stable for qualifying. I think we could have gone quicker had I not had a problem with my engine on the final lap, but I'm happy I got a good run." Greg Moore - "The track is getting better as rubber is laid on. Passing will be good especially in corner one and at the end of the back straight." Bobby Rahal - "There's going to be a lot of brake-locking in the corners. I think it's going to be hairy." Jimmy Vasser - "The track got a lot better this afternoon, so our times were better, but we're not where we want to be. We made a final adjustment and dropped the ride-height, but that didn't work. We may have actually made it worse because it was very jerky."
Franchitti 1:04.130 Herta 1:04.218 Zanardi 1:04.420 Moore 1:04.620 Kanaan 1:04.624 Andretti 1:04.651 Tracy 1:04.679 Pruett 1:04.680 Castro-Neves 1:04.699 Hearn 1:04.781 Rahal 1:04.815 Fittipaldi 1:04.823 Gugelmin 1:04.893 de Ferran 1:04.926 Vasser 1:04.966 Lehto 1:05.024 Carpentier 1:05.045 Blundell 1:05.080 Ribiero 1:05.158 Meier 1:05.339 Fernandez 1:05.429 Unser 1:05.440 Papis 1:05.505 Gordon 1:05.861 Jourdain 1:05.989 Jones 1:06.087 Barron 1:07.093 Vitolo 1:09.164