Cleveland qualifying: It's that man Moreno!

Roberto Moreno doubled his slender points lead in the CART Fedex Championship series today, by taking the single point available for pole at Cleveland. Following last week's all-Brazilian podium, the Burke Lakefront Airport saw an all-Brazilian top three on the grid, with Moreno followed by Gil de Ferran and Mauricio Gugelmin

Cleveland qualifying: It's that man Moreno!

"The Moreno of old is coming back to me," said an emotional Roberto after taking the pole near the end of the session.

"I tried a little bit over the top and spun," he confessed, adding: "I hope we can back up today with a good result."

Bryan Herta laid down the early benchmark in the first group of the second qualifying session. The American, subbing for the injured Tony Kanaan in the Mo Nunn Racing team, demonstrated that he was getting comfortable in the Reynard-Mercedes by topping the times. The temperature was perfect at the Burke Lakefront Airport, allowing Herta to set the fastest time of the weekend so far, a 57.671s.

Herta was the only driver to break under 58s for most of the session, but at the end, Oriol Servia, Christian Fittipaldi and Max Papis found the key and joined Herta in that bracket. Servia had been there or thereabouts for most of the session, and jumped back into second in the dying moments of his group's run.

As the second group started their run, Penske's Helio Castroneves appeared most eager to set the running, and jumped to sixth on his first flying lap. He then set about demoting as many of the first group as possible, going third and then second on successive laps.

Team KOOL Green's Dario Franchitti, fastest in yesterday's session, seemed keen to follow the Brazilian up the order, setting third fastest time. But at that point, Michael Andretti blitzed the field with a lap of 57.575s.

The Scot anticipated the late session rush for times, playing down his chances at pole.

"You've just got to give it your best shot," he said. "But I'm sure the best lap will be well into the 57s bracket. Because of the rubber going down, you need to leave it 'til your last possible lap to give it the best chance of getting that little bit extra."

Andretti's lap was the time to beat for most of the session, but with less than three minutes to go, Mauricio Gugelmin darted to the top of the times - his eventual third was Mercedes' best qualifying effort of the year so far. Moreno beat this time seconds later, and on his very next lap brought out the red flags by spinning at the exit of turn four.

Christiano da Matta ended up fifth fastest, after topping the times in the morning practice session. The PPI Motorsport driver tried his best to make it a Brazilian top four, but could not quite top Andretti's time.

"We were fast out of the blocks, but there are a couple of things we need to do to the handling of the car to make it better," said the Brazilian with a view to the race.

After a promising start, the Team KOOL Green drivers had a difficult session. Paul Tracy suffered gearbox worries on his out lap, and Dario Franchitti, after setting the pace in the first session, could not better eighth at the end of the day.

Champion Juan Pablo Montoya, on the other hand, managed to wring the best out of his Lola-Toyota, despite significant grip problems throughout the weekend. He will line up sixth.

For tomorrow, however, he will have to beat the top two men in the championship, who are also the top two men on the grid, if he is to make up ground in his quest to retain his title.




Pos, Driver, Car, Time

R Moreno, Reynard-Ford, 57.436s
G de Ferran, Reynard-Honda, 57.524s
M Gugelmin, Reynard-Merc, 57.538s
M Andretti, Lola-Ford, 57.575s
C da Matta, Reynard-Toyota, 57.583s
J P Montoya, Lola-Toyota, 57.601s
B Herta, Reynard-Mercedes, 57.671s
D Franchitti, Reynard-Honda, 57.677s
A Fernandez, Reynard-Ford, 57.707s
H Castroneves, Reynard-Hon, 57.722s
O Servia, Reynard-Toyota, 57.818s
J Vasser, Lola-Toyota, 57.930s
C Fittipaldi, Lola-Ford, 57.941s
M Papis, Reynard-Ford, 58.044s
K Brack, Reynard-Ford, 58.049s
M Blundell, Reynard-Merc, 58.259s
P Tracy, Reynard-Honda, 58.534s
A Tagliani, Reynard-Ford, 58.644s
P Carpentier, Reynard-Ford, 58.717s
M Jourdain Jr, Lola-Merc, 58.941s
S Nakano, Reynard-Honda, 58.985s
T Marques, Swift-Ford, 59.442s
N Fontana, Reynard-Toyota, 59.470s
L GarciaJr, Reynard-Merc, 1m00.756s
T Kurosawa, Lola-Ford, 1m00.767s

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