and the Rains came.... Portland International Raceway was covered in a shroud of cloud and rain this afternoon for the final qualifying for the Champ Car World Series round four. The top three from yesterday's qualifying remained the...
and the Rains came....
Portland International Raceway was covered in a shroud of cloud and rain this afternoon for the final qualifying for the Champ Car World Series round four. The top three from yesterday's qualifying remained the same: Justin Wilson, Robert Doornbos and Sebastien Bourdais.
Rookie Doornbos, #14 Minardi Team USA, set the fastest lap time in the wet conditions today keeping him in the front row for the race tomorrow. Doornbos declared it "felt like home actually, in Holland. It was really wet, and I was pleasantly surprised". For race day, Doornbos believes, "I don't think it's going to be as bad as today. If it is, we're in a good situation. Justin and myself will be at the front so we'll have a clear view."
Doornbos is hoping to be a key motivator to his new team and is looking forward to his first win with a strong commitment and confidence.
Pole-sitter Wilson in the #9 RSPORTS "wanted to make a point" at times not being able to see around the next turn, wanting to keep a race car under him for tomorrow. "Hopefully we can get a nice clean start and get into the first corner with all the bits still on the car and go from there."
Many of the Champ Car World Series drivers alleged to have slower cars in front of them during their qualifying runs and were challenged by the spray from the cars ahead of them, making it difficult for them to step up and lay down a strong lap time.
Simon Pagenaud, #15 Aussie Vineyards, felt that they had made substantial improvements from the morning practice session "but unfortunately the visibility was so bad that everyone had to back up to get a clear lap and we only got one clear lap in which was decent, but not as fast as it should have been, but that's part of racing."
Rookie Graham Rahal in the #2 MediZone car commented: "It was nice to set the second fastest time in the session but it only works if you're the fastest in the wet and guarantee a front row start. It was so close -- I guess you could say I sneezed at the wrong time."
"Speedy" Dan Clarke, #4 Minardi Team USA: "I'm very happy for Robert and the team that they were quickest today, and it's really good for Minardi Team USA. I'm trying to stay positive and look to tomorrow's race. I think the weather is going to play a large factor."
Taking notes from the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Race #1 this afternoon, the drivers are very aware that being at the front of the grid is of high importance as the visibility is dreadful at the back of the pack.
Veteran driver Paul Tracy (#3 Forsythe Racing) explained about his run today: "In the morning the car was good when the rain started coming down harder but once the rain stopped and the track started drying a little bit it was just all over the place. During qualifying the car was good for a couple of laps, and we managed to turn a decent time, but after the Bridgestone Tires started wearing the car started sliding a lot and wheel spinning. Obviously the rain hurt us because yesterday we didn't get a lot of running and didn't qualify well, and today we never got the chance to improve our times so now we'll just have to make up those spots in the race."
Tracy's teammate Oriol Servia in the #7 car mentioned the very wet track, "There was a huge amount of water on the track, I couldn't see anything. The cars were kicking up quite a bit of spray and it just seemed to stay up in the air so even if you tried to find yourself a gap it was hard to see, you got to the braking zones and you could barely see the markers. Its going to be a crazy race tomorrow if the weather stays the same."
With the new standing start procedure, the probability of rain, racing strategy and dynamics have definitely proven challenging for the drivers and teams of the Champ Car World Series.
What awaits us tomorrow is the thunderous roar of the turbo-charged engines on the start line in anticipation of the first standing start. As the red light comes on, the excitment will build and when the lights go off, so does the field. The unfinished business will be left to the finely honed talents of the drivers and their teams, leaving Mother Nature to add her test to the event.