IRL: Motegi: Mo Nunn Racing Saturday report

Takagi to start third, Giaffone ninth in Sunday's Indy Japan 300. MOTEGI, Japan (Saturday, April 12, 2003) -- Local favorite Tora Takagi will start Sunday's Indy Japan 300 from the inside of the second row while Mo Nunn Racing teammate Felipe ...

Takagi to start third, Giaffone ninth in Sunday's Indy Japan 300.

MOTEGI, Japan (Saturday, April 12, 2003) -- Local favorite Tora Takagi will start Sunday's Indy Japan 300 from the inside of the second row while Mo Nunn Racing teammate Felipe Giaffone will be on the inside of the fifth row after rain washed out today's single-car qualifying session on the Twin Ring Motegi 1.5-mile egg-shaped oval.

Sunday's starting grid will be based on the weekend's best practice times when combining Friday's morning and afternoon sessions and today's morning session that was completed before the rains came.

Takagi, in his #12 Pioneer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force, had the second-fastest lap of this morning's practice session at 26.4671 seconds (206.747 mph). It turned out to be the third-best practice lap of the weekend thus far and gives Takagi his best starting position of the young season. He started 14th at the season-opening event at Homestead, Fla., and 13th at Phoenix three weekends ago.

Giaffone and the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force was one of six competitors to record a qualifying run this afternoon before the session was aborted. He was second on the grid at the time, but all for naught. Thus, Giaffone will start Sunday's race in the ninth position by virtue of his best practice lap of 26.7064 seconds (204.995 mph) that he turned on Friday afternoon. That lap was sixth-best for the day on Friday but was surpassed by three other drivers on Saturday morning. Giaffone started 15th at Homestead and second at Phoenix, where he finished third.

Scott Dixon, the Homestead race winner, will start on the pole thanks to his Friday-afternoon practice time of 26.4353 seconds (206.996 mph). He'll be joined on the front row by series points leader and Phoenix winner Tony Kanaan, who turned his weekend's best lap of 26.4636 seconds (206.775 mph) this morning. That was the only lap that bettered Takagi's performance in today's opening session.

Final practice, which was originally schedule for late this afternoon, was rescheduled for 9 a.m. local time Sunday (8 p.m. EDT Saturday). Race time is 12:30 p.m. local time Sunday (11:30 p.m. EDT Saturday). The 300-mile event will be televised on a tape-delayed basis by ABC-TV at 1 p.m. EDT.

FELIPE GIAFFONE

"The rain turned out to not be our friend, today. I believe we would have started better than where we will have to start if all the cars would have been able to make their qualifying runs. But that's the way it goes. Some days you benefit from these things, some days you don't. It all evens out in the long run. The most important thing is that we have a great race car, and I think we are going to put on a great show for these great Japanese racing fans. I really love it here. Except for the weather today, of course."

TORA TAKAGI

"I think we are in a great starting position. I am a little disappointed that we didn't get a chance to try for the pole because my engineer (David Cripps) had one more change to the car that he thought might make it possible. But we must be satisfied with where we are, after all. It is our best starting position so for, and it is great because this is in front of my family and friends and all of my Japanese fans. I hope we can make it a great day tomorrow for Pioneer and Denso and Toyota."

-mnr-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Felipe Giaffone , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Tora Takagi , Mo Nunn