TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec -- After setting the fastest laps in both practice sessions, Frenchman Tristan Vautier earned the pole for the 60-lap Grand Prix of Trois-Rivières, setting an outright track record at 57.1394 seconds.
For the second year in a row, qualifying for the Grand Prix of Trois-Rivières was decided by a two-segment knockout session, similar to the Firestone Fast Six in the IZOD IndyCar Series. The first segment was a 30-minute session in which all cars battled for the top six advancing spots.
Vautier led that session with a lap of 57.5010 seconds, followed by Team Moore Racing's Gustavo Yacaman. Last year's pole sitter and race winner Esteban Guerrieri, and teammates Sebastian Saavedra and Carlos Munoz all advanced to the final segment. Segment 2 was a 10-minute shootout to decide pole position. Teams toyed with strategy for the first few minutes, and no cars went out on track until two minutes after the green flag dropped. Dempsey was the first car out.
The top three drivers went under the standing outright track record set last year by Guerrieri at 57.4541 seconds. Vautier's pole time of 57.1394 is the new standard for drivers to beat in the 1:45 p.m. (ET) race Sunday afternoon. Edmonton race winner Munoz will start alongside him, followed by Yacaman, Guerrieri, Dempsey and Saavedra.
SUNOCO POLE QUALIFYING QUOTES:
TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/SSM w/Curb Agajanian): "It's great. The track was hotter than this morning. The first ones were harder to get used to the track, which was more slippery, but it was great. Car was good, we made just a few changes during qualifying and it was a bit of a tough approach. After having done the two fastest times of practice, you are the target, especially if your pace is really, really good, so everybody works hard to get up to you and you have to keep improving when your margin is smaller, so that was really the tough part. I'm glad the car stayed really good, and I'm going to have to put a lap together. It was so hard with the heat because the tires were going away quicker, even though the Firestone tires are so great. With the heat, the peak of the tires doesn't stay very long, so it was important to put it together at the right time in the run, because after it was too late. We managed to do it, but we've got to keep working really hard tomorrow, keep improving to stay in front and hopefully do a great race tomorrow."
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 Team Dialy‐Ser): "We are happy with our second-place qualifying start for the race tomorrow. When we started the weekend, we were not really comfortable with the car. My Andretti Autosport team worked really hard last night and this morning so I am very proud of them that we were able to do such a great job today. We were extremely close to getting the pole position, so tomorrow's race will be important. My main goal will be to maintain my position and determine my pace. I'm looking forward to it." GUSTAVO YACAMAN (No. 2 TMR‐Tuvacol‐Xtreme Coil Drilling): "It's a good format, we did it here last year and it works pretty well. It allows people to have different qualifying strategies, so maybe someone who is not quick can get into the fast six, they can run lower fuel to try to qualify a little bit towards the front. And then the people who can qualify in the fast six, maybe they start the session a little later to save fuel or whatever towards the fast six. It just brings some strategy to the game and I think it's a lot of fun. "It's going to be a long race. Everyone is having some sort of braking issue, everyone's brakes are overheating a little bit. There's a lot of hard braking and not much time to cool them down, so that's going to be a factor. Obviously towards the end of the race, tire wear is going to be an issue as well. But we'll see, it's physical, it's very, very warm, so the track is very physical as the brakes get no cooling, you as a driver get no cooling, so it's a very hard track. We'll see who it will favor."
ESTEBAN GUERRIERI (No. 11 Pistas Argentinas/SSM w/Curb Agajanian): "I think it's fun. You don't really know where you are until the last lap of the first qualifying, so you have to push. I was first with the first set of tires, and then I had to go out again with another new set because you never know what's going to happen. Then the times get quicker, and then when I put itin the top six you just try for all that you have because for the shootout, it's only one set so you go out and it was really hot. You just go for the top six, you have nothing to lose and all to gain. So it was fun, it was a fun format, I like it."
PETER DEMPSEY (No. 9 Belardi/TruFuel): "Qualifying was tough. We were working on saving a set of tires for tomorrow's race so we started on our practice tires hoping to make our way into the Top 6, which we managed to do. I didn't have a lot of confidence in the braking zones today, so that hurt me from getting the most out of the car. We were the first out for the final ten minutes of qualifying, put some good laps together, did my best lap [at Trois-Rivières] so far but unfortunately couldn't get the No. 9 Belardi Auto Racing/TruFuel car on pole today. I made a slight error - tapped the wall - there at the end so that didn't help things. I definitely think I could have gone quicker before that happened, but you know, overall I'm happy. The guys have done a great job all weekend so tomorrow we'll go out, keep our nose clean, go hard and see what happens."
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 27 Team AFS): "This was not the qualifying that we are used to in the No. 27 AFS racing/Andretti Autosport car. I am a bit disappointed to be honest. It was good that we got into the fast six, but we struggled to get there. It is a situation that we have been battling since the first time we were on the track. We just need to stay focused and try and see the difference between my car and Carlos' car to make them closer to one another. I am happy for Carlos getting second today, but at this point, I needed a higher qualifying position to really push in the race. We are in the final stretch of the championship and I am in a position I don't want to be in. We will keep working and stay positive to see how things unfold during the race."
Source: Indy Lights