Qual 1: Tracy on provisional pole

Paul Tracy's remarkable run of Friday successes continued at Vancouver, where the Canadian hero grabbed provisional pole for the fifth time in 2003. Thanks to the rule designed to make Friday qualifying sessions more relevant, Tracy's efforts have translated into five championship points and five guaranteed front row starts.

Qual 1: Tracy on provisional pole

Oddly enough, he has never come back to win the pole on Saturday after leading a Friday session. But he won from second on the grid in Monterrey, Mexico and Long Beach.

However, Friday's result may be in jeopardy because team officials from Newman/Haas Racing and Rocketsports Racing verbally protested Tracy's alleged blocking during the final minutes of the session. Both teams were expected to file official written protests.

"I did my time at the end of a four-lap run and then got stuck in a group of traffic on the second set of tyres," Tracy said. "Adrian Fernandez and Jimmy Vasser kept backing up. I got blocked on my laps and I didn't throw protests around, and I didn't complain."

At Vancouver, Tracy made it look easy. Halfway through the 40-minute qualifying session, Tiago Monteiro caused a nine-minute delay by nosing his Fittipaldi-Dingman Reynard into the tyre wall in the last chicane. Eleven minutes remained when the green flag flew again, and Tracy reeled off a 61.706s lap on his third flyer with seven minutes remaining.

A few seconds later, Bruno Junqueira responded with a 61.963s lap and both drivers pitted for tyres. But traffic prevented anyone from improving, though Sebastien Bourdais and Junqueira waged an intra-team battle for second that was resolved in the Brazilian's favour on the final lap of the session, 61.845s to 61.921s.

Tracy ran 61.862s on his penultimate lap before slowing to a 66s pace on his final tour. That's when he allegedly blocked Alex Tagliani (fourth fastest on the day) and Junqueira.

"I heard what Tracy said but I didn't see the cars in front of him," remarked Junqueira. "Maybe he caught them early in the lap, but I think he backed off too much. On a street course with a one-minute lap time, it's always tough. But it's frustrating."

Bourdais said he was suffering from a flu bug but he improved from eighth to second with his final lap, only to lose the position to his team-mate Junqueira a few seconds later.

"This track has been easier for me to learn that Toronto because of the conditions," said the French rookie. "I only got one shot on one set of tyres. That's the way it always is on street courses."

Behind the top three, Tagliani made the home fans happy by running fourth at a track where he took pole and led 68 laps in 2001. Oriol Servia was fifth, followed by early-session leader (and 2000 Vancouver winner) Roberto Moreno and Darren Manning, who again led the Reynard contingent.

Patrick Carpentier was a disappointed eighth with Michel Jourdain ninth. "When you put all the cars on the track in the last ten minutes it's difficult for everyone to get a clean run," Jourdain stated. "I had at least two laps today that would have put us on the front row but there wasn't enough track to finish the run."

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Update: Tracy penalised for blocking

Update: Tracy penalised for blocking
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