Qualifying 1: Junqueira sets pace

Bruno Junqueira hasn't often had things go his way during the first day of Champ Car race weekends in 2003. That all changed at Toronto's Exhibition Place street circuit today (Friday), as the Brazilian authoritatively grabbed the overnight pole

Qualifying 1: Junqueira sets pace

The Newman/Haas team was content to hold Junqueira in the pits until the end of the 40-minute qualifying session. Bruno had been fastest on his first set of tyres with a 60.823s lap early in the session, but by the time he went out for his second run with seven minutes to go, he had fallen to eighth place.

With hometown hero Paul Tracy's 59.803s lap the mark to beat, Bruno did it with apparent ease. He warmed up with a 59.950s to move up to second before dropping a 59.486s the next time around. With Tracy and the rest of the field out of laps, the pole - and more importantly, a guaranteed front-row starting spot for Sunday's 112-lap race - was Junqueira's.

"I'm happy, because nobody knew what to expect after the practice sessions were in the wet," Junqueira said. "I like it when you don't have much practice because it brings the best out in the drivers. I like the feeling of having to go as fast as you can with the car that you've got.

"The team made the decision to wait until the end. I started to get worried when I was losing positions, but I was lucky - it was one of the only times this year that I didn't get traffic."

Tracy had an eventful session. Eleven minutes in, he took over the top spot with a 60.079s lap. But two laps later, Tracy spun and stalled at Turn 10, and his penalty for the resultant red flag was the loss of his best lap to that point. He later responded with a 59.803s but it wasn't enough to hold off Junqueira.

"I was pretty much done with fourteen minutes to go," reported the championship leader. "My lap gave a lot of guys a number to shoot for and Bruno finally beat it in the last minute. We prayed for rain, but it never came."

Michel Jourdain Jr almost cracked into the 59s with a 60.002s, while Oriol Servia managed a 60.009s. Canadians Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier ran fifth and seventh, sandwiching Portland winner Adrian Fernandez.

Briton Darren Manning won the sub-race to take top Reynard honours. He was eighth fastest with a best lap of 60.586s.

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