Newman/Haas Off to Perfect Start

Newman/Haas Racing driver Sebastien Bourdais dominated the opening day's action in Montreal, setting the pace in free practice this morning and then topping provisional qualifying to lock out a front row starting spot for Sunday's race

Newman/Haas Off to Perfect Start

The reigning series Champion followed his customary practice of waiting until halfway through the session before venturing out onto the track for his first salvo. It didn't take him long to blow Paul Tracy's benchmark time of 1:22.400 into the weeds with an impressive 1:21.924.

Tracy didn't get a chance to respond because the red flag came out four minutes later after home favourite Andrew Ranger crashed heavily at the exit of Turn Seven. The Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Lola tattooed the wall and Ranger remained in the cockpit talking to safety workers for several minutes.

When it became apparent that the track would not be cleared in time for a resumption of hostilities, officials threw the chequered flag three minutes early, rubber-stamping Bourdais' provisional pole.

Oriol Servia ensured a perfect result for Newman/Haas Racing by clocking the second fastest time, a scant 0.086s adrift of Bourdais. The Spaniard was actually on an even quicker lap (two-tenths up on Bourdais at the second timing point) when his PacifiCare Lola ran out of fuel at the hairpin.

Tracy was shuffled back to third with Forsythe Championship Racing teammate Mario Dominguez just 0.007s slower than the 2003 Champion in fourth.

After an accident-strewn string of races earlier in the summer, Dominguez has been steadily raising his game in recent races and seems to have rediscovered the kind of form that landed him the Forsythe drive in the first place.

Cristiano da Matta and Jimmy Vasser continued the team symmetry by posting the fifth and sixth best times respectively for PKV Racing. Both veterans have shown pace on occasions this year but have been dogged by miserable luck in recent events.

Britain's Justin Wilson was the RuSPORT standard-bearer in seventh, while teammate AJ Allmendinger was mired in a lowly 16th and slowest of those to set a timed lap.

Nelson Philippe continues to improve with each new race and was a strong eighth fastest. The 19-year-old slowly seems to be finding his feet in Champ Cars after a troubled baptism last season and has overshadowed his highly rated Conquest Racing stablemate Ranger of late.

Rocketsports Racing's Timo Glock (as usual) headed the rookie crop with the ninth quickest time, leaving his fellow freshmen Bjorn Wirdheim, Ronnie Bremer and an improved Marcus Marshall to occupy positions 11-13.

Local hero Alex Tagliani generated a buzz of anticipation by pacing the short pre-qualifying warm-up session but could only manage tenth place in qualifying itself.

Ricardo Sperafico (Dale Coyne Racing) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (Rocketsports Racing) failed to record a time and brought up the rear of the 18-car field.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Sebastien Bourdais Newman Haas 1:21.924 7 2. Oriol Servia Newman Haas 1:22.010 + 0.086 7 3. Paul Tracy Forsythe Championship 1:22.400 + 0.476 8 4. Mario Dominguez Forsythe Championship 1:22.407 + 0.483 8 5. Cristiano da Matta PKV 1:22.492 + 0.568 7 6. Jimmy Vasser PKV 1:22.559 + 0.635 7 7. Justin Wilson RuSPORT 1:22.851 + 0.927 5 8. Nelson Philippe Mi-Jack Conquest 1:23.268 + 1.344 4 9. Timo Glock Rocketsports 1:23.434 + 1.510 7 10. Alex Tagliani Team Australia 1:23.681 + 1.757 4 11. Bjorn Wirdheim HVM, Inc. 1:23.720 + 1.796 7 12. Ronnie Bremer Dale Coyne 1:24.515 + 2.591 8 13. Marcus Marshall Team Australia 1:24.723 + 2.799 6 14. Rodolfo Lavin HVM, Inc. 1:25.049 + 3.125 8 15. Andrew Ranger Mi-Jack Conquest 1:25.680 + 3.756 3 16. A.J. Allmendinger RuSPORT 1:26.100 + 4.176 2 17. Ricardo Sperafico Dale Coyne No Time 0 18. Ryan Hunter-Reay Rocketsports No Time 0 
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