Qualifying 1: Junqueira laps it up

Bruno Junqueira established a new track record for the Surfers Paradise street course and narrowly edged Paul Tracy for the provisional pole for Sunday's Champ Car round. Despite not recording a flying lap until just seven minutes remained in the 35-minute qualifying session, Junqueira made his track time count and hustled his Ganassi Lola-Toyota around the 2.8 miles in 1m31.515s.

Qualifying 1: Junqueira laps it up

The existing mark of 1m31.703s was set by Dario Franchitti in 1999.

The session was interrupted by three red flags, which caused some concern among those who decided to wait before banking a qualifying lap. Worst affected were Junqueira and newly-crowned CART champion Cristiano da Matta.

Tracy was quick from the get-go and he had already set the time to beat of 1m31.575s when Jimmy Vasser brought out the first red when he wiped the rear wing off his Team Rahal Lola-Ford at the first chicane.

Twenty-one minutes remained, but no one got a rhythm going because addition stoppages were caused by Dario Franchitti (crash, right side damage) and Patrick Carpentier (stalled Turn 1). Just over eight minutes remained when the final runs finally began.

"With seven minutes to go I didn't have a lap and I was pretty worried," Junqueira admitted. "We waited a long time to go out and then when we finally did, there was a red flag every time I left the pits.

"So my first lap was pretty conservative, because I wanted to be sure of a place on the grid," he continued. "I knew I had three laps, but I thought Paul's 31.5 was unbeatable. My last lap was a flyer and I'm surprised it took the pole. Before the session, I thought a 31.9 would do it, and I thought Paul's 31.5 was pretty impressive."

Tracy was on course when Junqueira pipped his time, but his last lap was a 1m31.666s.

"I was told to circulate and then Bruno put a lap in and I didn't have time to respond," Tracy remarked. "The time was in the car right away and the team did a great job."

Junqueira's team-mate Scott Dixon improved right at the end to take third in the country where he cut his racing teeth.

"Our car was probably as good as Bruno's but we're fighting some braking issues," said the New Zealander. "I was locking up and missing downshifts but the team worked well."

CART champion da Matta also improved on his final lap, but his 1m32.162s lap was only good enough for fourth place ahead of Tony Kanaan and Adrian Fernandez. The fourth row was filled by the Team Rahal drivers Michel Jourdain Jnr and Vasser, who did a nice job to post the fifth quickest lap in his spare car. However, he lost that lap because he caused the earlier stoppage and his next best effort put him eighth.

Several big names languish in the second half of the grid, including Ganassi's third driver Kenny Brack (13th on 1m32.900s) and the Player's/Forsythe duo of Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani in 14th and 15th.

Franchitti was 17th after his suspension-bending incident, heading only Christian Fittipaldi, who failed to log a flying lap in his Newman/Haas Lola-Toyota.

Bruno Junqueira Target/Ganassi Lola-Toyota 1m31.515s
Paul Tracy Team KOOL Green Lola-Honda 1m31.575s
Scott Dixon Target/Ganassi Lola-Toyota 1m32.143s
Cristiano da Matta Havoline/Newman-Haas Lola-Toyota 1m32.162s
Tony Kanaan WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Lola-Honda 1m32.267s
Adrian Fernandez Tecate/Telmex Lola-Honda 1m32.301s
Michel Jourdain Jr. Gigante/Team Rahal Lola-Ford 1m32.384s
Jimmy Vasser Shell/Team Rahal Lola-Ford 1m32.428s
Michael Andretti Motorola Team Green Lola-Honda 1m32.574s
Shinji Nakano Alpine/Mitsubishi Lola-Honda 1m32.663s
Tora Takagi Pioneer/Denso Walker Racing Reynard-Toyota 1m32.710s
Oriol Servia Visteon/Patrick Racing Reynard-Toyota 1m32.794s
Kenny Brack Target/Ganassi Lola-Toyota 1m32.900s
Patrick Carpentier Player's/Indeck Reynard-Ford 1m33.506s
Alex Tagliani Player's/Indeck Reynard-Ford 1m33.770s
Mario Dominguez Herdez Competition Lola-Ford 1m35.161s
Dario Franchitti Team KOOL Green Lola-Honda 1m35.278s
Christian Fittipaldi Eli Lilly Newman-Haas Lola-Toyota no time

Practice 1: Da Matta is number one

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