Franchitti takes pole for Sao Paulo race
|By Simon Strang||Sunday, March 14th 2010, 13:26 GMT|
Dario Franchitti will begin the defence of his IndyCar Series title from the perfect position after taking pole for the opening round of the 2010 championship on the Sao Paulo street circuit.
The Scot ended the Firestone Fast Six shoot-out relatively unchallenged after an early battle for the top spot with Penske's Will Power, and took the pole for Ganassi Racing with a 1m27.734s lap.
Power had set the pace in the top 12 run-off but couldn't match his mid-1m27s time when it counted, fading to fifth with a lap of 1m28.0156s in the final session.
The surprise of qualifying was Alex Tagliani. Making his debut for his co-owned FAZZT team, the Canadian was second fastest with a stunning lap on a set of red-walled soft Bridgestones late on.
Tagliani's time was good enough to withstand a late-flier from Justin Wilson's Dreyer & Reinbold third-placed machine, the Briton bumping Ryan Hunter-Reay down to fourth for Andretti Autosport with a lurid final lap.
Hunter-Reay's team-mate Tony Kanaan will join Power on the third row.
Former champion Scott Dixon was one of several drivers to miss out on a shot at the top-six session after Simona de Silvestro crashed at the end of the top 12 shoot-out.
That session proved to be a bit of a lottery as the track, which underwent diamond-grinding work overnight to improve the grip levels and bumps, rapidly improved. Lap-by-lap, it seemed, everybody produced a faster time.
So it was unfortunate for the likes of Dixon, Ryan Briscoe, Helio Castroneves and former Formula 1 driver Takuma Sato, who all missed the opportunity of one final crack at the top six.
De Silvestro, who, other than the accident has had an impressive debut IndyCar weekend, will line up 11th ahead of Raphael Matos, who bumped Danica Patrick out of the top 12 run-off.
Another driver unlucky not to make it through was Mike Conway. The Briton clearly had the pace to reach the final stages, but a late accident in the first session, brought out a full-course yellow and wiped his time - rendering him 19th on the grid.
Pos Driver Team Time 1. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 1m27.7354s 2. Alex Tagliani Fazzt 1m27.7676s 3. Justin Wilson Dreyer & Reinbold 1m27.8183s 4. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti 1m27.8756s 5. Will Power Penske 1m28.0156s 6. Tony Kanaan Andretti 1m28.6946s 7. Scott Dixon Ganassi 1m28.0104s 8. Ryan Briscoe Penske 1m28.1176s 9. Helio Castroneves Penske 1m28.1200s 10. Takuma Sato KV 1m28.2679s 11. Simona de Silvestro HVM 1m28.8691s 12. Raphael Matos Luczo Dragon/de Ferran 1m29.0994s 13. Danica Patrick Andretti 1m30.1253s 14. Hideki Mutoh Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1m28.4659s 15. Alex Lloyd Dale Coyne 1m30.4641s 16. Vitor Meira Foyt 1m29.1131s 17. EJ Viso KV 1m30.4947s 18. Dan Wheldon Panther 1m29.1960s 19. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold 1m33.7584s 20. Mario Romancini Conquest 1m30.8838s 21. Marco Andretti Andretti 1m39.6813s 22. Ana Beatriz Dreyer & Reinbold 1m32.4161s 23. Mario Moraes KV no time 24. Milka Duno Dale Coyne 1m36.0065s