Practice 1: Da Matta is number one

Cristiano da Matta has exchanged the number '6' for the number '1' he earned as the 2002 CART champion. But the 29-year-old Brazilian's domination of the Champ Car series remains the same.

Practice 1: Da Matta is number one

Da Matta took his Newman/Haas Racing Lola-Toyota around the 2.8-mile Australian street course in 1m32.977s to lead the first practice session over 2000 Gold Coast winner Adrian Fernandez. A pair of other former event winners in the shape of Jimmy Vasser and Paul Tracy ran third and fourth fastest on Friday morning.

Target/Ganassi Racing team-mates Kenny Brack and Bruno Junqueira set the early pace, but da Matta undercut their times by almost a full second on his sixth flying lap. Cristiano managed to lop another second off of that mid-session effort to lead Fernandez by 0.312s second despite a quick spin that caused a red flag.

Brack's 1m33.469s held up for sixth place behind Team Rahal's Michel Jourdain Jnr, whose weekend got off to a flying start. Junqueira faded to ninth, behind Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon.

1999 Surfers race winner Dario Franchitti was third fastest early in the session with a 1m35.050s. But mechanical problems ended the Scot's session after just seven laps.

Cristiano da Matta Havoline/Newman-Haas Lola-Toyota 1m32.977s
Adrian Fernandez Tecate/Telmex Lola-Honda 1m33.289s
Jimmy Vasser Shell/Team Rahal Lola-Ford 1m33.361s
Paul Tracy Team KOOL Green Lola-Honda 1m33.413s
Michel Jourdain Jr. Gigante/Team Rahal Lola-Ford 1m33.461s
Kenny Brack Target/Ganassi Lola-Toyota 1m32.469s
Tony Kanaan WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Lola-Honda 1m33.497s
Scott Dixon Target/Ganassi Lola-Toyota 1m33.636s
Bruno Junqueira Target/Ganassi Lola-Toyota 1m33.786s
Shinji Nakano Alpine/Mitsubishi Lola-Honda 1m33.786s

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