Qualifying 2: da Matta holds of Junqueira

Cristiano da Matta and Bruno Junqueira demonstrated true racers spirit as they fought for pole position for Sunday's Gold Coast Champ Car round. With the CART championship decided, da Matta still dug deep and produced a pole lap that undercut the track record by a full second and a half. Junqueira, meanwhile, was guaranteed a front row starting spot thanks to qualifying on the provisional pole. But he hung it out anyway and came within a hundredth of a second of taking top honours from his close friend and countryman.

Qualifying 2: da Matta holds of Junqueira

"I know Bruno will be saying he could have found a hundredth of a second here or gone faster there," da Matta remarked after earning his seventh pole of the season. "But the main point is that I got a point and I'll be starting first.

"The car was very good," he added. "But I believe we actually have a better car on old tyres for race conditions. Our car is very gentle on tyres."

The 40-minute session was one of the more entertaining Champ Car qualifying sessions this year. Junqueira's Friday lap of 1m31.515s was the target, and a little before halfway into the session, Target/Ganassi's Kenny Brack shattered it, posting a 1m30.971s. Scott Dixon and Paul Tracy ran second and third, but a few seconds later, da Matta clocked a 1m30.790s to top the screens and he lowered the mark to 1m30.420s the next time around.

Tracy was looking to improve on his best when he launched his Team Green Lola-Honda skyward at the Foster's Chicane. That lap was aborted, but he posted a 1m30.731s the next time around before the left rear suspension broke a few turns later and he was forced to crab the car slowly around to the pits.

"I got pretty high up in the air," said Tracy. "I got a couple more laps in but the suspension broke on my in lap. It's frustrating because I didn't get all the segments of the track right on the same lap." The Canadian wound up fifth on the grid.

Junqueira finally emerged from the pits, and almost effortlessly, he logged a 1m30.214s lap to beat da Matta with 13 minutes to go. Brack moved into third with a 1m30.616s and Tony Kanaan moved into the frame with a 1m30.731s good for fifth.

Da Matta's final run produced the pole lap of 1m30.204s with just under six minutes remaining. Junqueira tried to respond, but he flat-spotted his front tyres and ran over the grass at one of the many chicanes.

"I knew I was starting on the front row and I didn't want to crash the car trying too hard," he said.

Kanaan put in a 1m30.427x on his final lap to improve from fifth to third, while Scott Dixon's last lap elevated him to sixth behind Brack and Tracy.

Dario Franchitti finally got some track time after battling clutch problems and qualified his Team Green Lola-Honda eighth.

"Nice to actually get some laps in," Dario said. "I think I had just three flying laps coming into the session and the lack of track time definitely hurt us. It seemed like guys were making most of their time at the chicanes and I was getting more and more adventurous.

"Considering where we were this morning, that's pretty good," he added. "But we'll have to take some gambles with the strategy to have a chance to win."

The four Reynards in the field struggled, with Patrick Racing's Oriol Servia setting the pace in ninth place. The Player's/Forsythe cars of Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier were 14th and 15th with Tora Takagi 17th, sandwiching one-time Surfers master Michael Andretti.

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Practice 2: Da Matta holds sway

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