Qualifying 1: Da Matta still fastest

CART's revised road course qualifying rules got their first trial this afternoon on a brand new venue for the Champ Cars-the fast and picturesque Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, home of the Canadian Grand Prix. The results might not have been a great surprise-as Cristiano da Matta's relentess speed won him another provisional pole and championship point-but the changes seemed to accomplish their task of creating a more dramatic and eventful show

Qualifying 1: Da Matta still fastest

Hometown favorite Alex Tagliani was the first to take to the 2.747-mile track - immediately after the green flag waved for the 35-minute session, and he was promptly followed by others including Michael Andretti and Tony Kanaan. Tagliani quickly moved to P1, igniting further cheers from the local crowd - until his Player's/Forsythe team was informed that his lap would be disallowed for short-cutting the final chicane!

After Shinji Nakano moved somewhat surprisingly to the top spot in his Alpine/Mitsubishi Honda/Lola, the other Player's driver got the ball rolling as Patrick Carpentier moving to P3, but was blocked by...Nakano and forced to abort what he said was an even faster lap. Meanwhile, however, Cristiano da Matta was warming up...

The Lola-Toyota driver leapt to the top immediately, then became the first to dip under the 80sec barrier on his fourth lap at 1m19.465s, some 0.8sec clear of new P2 man Bruno Junqueira as the Brazilian pair resumed their qualifying duel from Road America. For the record, da Matta's pole lap was 6.6sec slower than Juan Pablo Montoya's pole lap for the Canadian Grand Prix here back in June.

Moments after da Matta set his fast time, the chastened Tagliani blotted his copybook a little more by losing control of his Reynard on the curbing under braking for Turn Six and sliding into the tyres, bringing out a red flag.

After only a couple of minutes, however, the action resumed with most of the contenders returning to the track. Paul Tracy got a little too much action too soon, reporting to his Team KOOL Green pit that the gearshift knob had fallen off in his hand! Adrian Fernandez then joined the troubled list as he ran off into the runoff area, although no more red flags were required.

The last few minutes saw everyone try vainly to come to terms with da Matta's pace, until the Target/Chip Ganassi racing squad made a big gain. Rather than Junqueira, however, it was the other two members of Chip's superteam who got hot. Scott Dixon made a huge gain to take over P2 at 1m19.755s with three minutes remaining. Team-mate Kenny Brack then made a similar leap in the final minute to assume the third spot at 1m19.873s. Tora Takagi also made a good advance at the end to edge Christian Fittipaldi for fourth.

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Practice 1: Da Matta leads the way

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