Bourdais Baffled by Loss of Pace

Sebastien Bourdais was at a loss to explain why he was unable to challenge for provisional pole at Denver on Friday

The Colorado street circuit was the scene of a virtuoso come-from-behind victory by the Frenchman last year, and he picked up where he left off by topping the times in the first practice session this morning.

However, his Newman/Haas Lola suffered a mysterious loss of grip in the afternoon's qualifying session and he had to make do with the third fastest time, some 0.588s adrift of pacesetter Paul Tracy.

"It was very good to start the weekend the way we finished it last year, but obviously things didn't go nearly as well in qualifying," said Bourdais.

"The McDonald's car was really good this morning - we did a 1:00.3 with 25 laps on the Bridgestone tyres. But in the afternoon we couldn't even match that with the two new sets we put on.

"The second set was ruined by traffic. We just couldn't put a lap together. So the first run was all I got.

"I was just really surprised; the team was kind of disappointed. We definitely can see that the grip isn't there any more."

Bourdais even speculated that the problem might have been a broken damper, such was the drop-off in grip and handling between practice and qualifying.

Notwithstanding his difficulties, the reigning Champion still qualified six places and seven-tenths of a second ahead of the sister Newman/Haas car of Oriol Servia.

"Traffic wasn't as much of an issue for us as being slower than we wanted," admitted the Spaniard.

"We aren't sure why we lost some speed from the morning session but the PacifiCare team is going to work hard overnight to try and improve in final qualifying.

"I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow because ninth place isn't where we want to start the race!"

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