CATALONIA'S ORIOL SERVIA WINS INDY LIGHTS POLE AT DETROIT NEWS CHALLENGE DETROIT, Mich. (Aug. 7, 1999) - - Oriol Servia, of Pals, Catalonia, Spain, found light at the end of his proverbial tunnel after a torrid final qualifying lap...
CATALONIA'S ORIOL SERVIA WINS INDY LIGHTS POLE AT DETROIT NEWS CHALLENGE
DETROIT, Mich. (Aug. 7, 1999) - - Oriol Servia, of Pals, Catalonia, Spain, found light at the end of his proverbial tunnel after a torrid final qualifying lap around Belle Isle's 14-turn, 2.346-mile road course that set a new track record and secured his third Indy Lights pole this season for Sunday's Detroit New Challenge.
Servia will start in the front of a 19-car field in round nine of the 12-race PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship. His winning lap of 1:22.353 = 102.554 mph in the Catalonia/RACC/Elf Lola eclipsed the previous record set by Airton Dare in 1998 of 1:22.525 = 102.340 mph. Servia also won pole positions at Nazareth and Portland earlier this season.
Teammates Philipp Peter, of Monte Carlo, Monaco, and Casey Mears, of Bakersfield, Calif., will start eighth and 13th with times of 1:23.193 = 101.518 mph and 1:23.787 = 100.798 mph, respectively.
The 30-minute final qualifying period started on-schedule at 11:15 a.m. ET under clear skies, comfortable humidity, and temperatures in the low 80s. No major incidents were reported. One two-minute caution was issued near the midway point of the session when Mario Dominguez struck the tire barriers in turn three, bringing the session to a brief halt.
The starting line-up was literally in limbo until the final seconds. Derek Higgins then Felipe Giaffone set the early pace. Servia entered the picture moments past the midway mark when he tipped the scales at 1:23.339 = 101.322 mph. Four drivers swapped the top position five times over a four minute span with 11 minutes remaining in the session.
Servia's last lap heroics prevented Jonny Kane from taking his second straight Indy Lights pole. With a little over one minute remaining, Kane recorded a 1:22.486 = 102.388 mph placing him temporarily on pole. When the checkered flag was issued, Kane's time was still the fastest. Servia, Guy Smith, and Didier Andre were all completing their last laps with Servia prevailing.
Servia earned a $1,000 bonus for his pole-winning effort, in addition to a championship point - extending his lead over his teammate Mears to eight points, 96-88. Peter is only nine points behind with 87 points.
"My last lap was as close to text book as I cold get," said Servia. "I concentrated my hardest of the weekend to hit every corner apex nearly as perfect as possible. I took the tires to their limit and used every inch of track the way it should. This isn't a big secret. It's just I finally ran a great technical lap."
Sunday's 32-lap, 75.072-mile PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship race is scheduled to drop the green flag at 12:30 p.m. ET.