Qualifying 2: Tracy storms to pole

Damp conditions couldn't stop Paul Tracy from delighting his home fans by claiming pole position for the Toronto round of the Champ Car World Series. The Canadian star timed his qualifying run to perfection to claim his third pole of the season and the 16th of his CART career

Qualifying 2: Tracy storms to pole

With Bruno Junqueira's Friday lap of 59.486s as the target, Tracy was worried that sprinkles of rain midway through Saturday's final qualifying session would thwart his chances. But the track dried quickly and with just over eleven minutes remaining, Tracy became the first and only driver to break into the 58s bracket, running a 58.839s lap. That was almost 0.4s faster than the second fastest runner, Michel Jourdain Jr on 59.218s.

"It was a very mentally challenging session for us," Tracy admitted. "First the rain, then Max Papis spun in front of me. We sat and waited, and by then we had fallen to sixth place. But the wind picked up and we got back out, though the track was very slippery on cold tyres without much grip.

"On the second run, we dropped into the 58s, which is fantastic," he continued. "Our timing was just right and the chequered flag fell at the right time."

The Toronto native reckoned he could have gone even faster had the Forsythe team had time to optimise the gearing. "The gearbox lost the oil in the morning practice, so we change that and we decided to change engines at the same time," Tracy said. "All weekend I was four or five mph slow on the straight, and coincidentally, that was the same engine I ran at Germany and Portland.

"We went from a 7-speed to a 6-speed back to a 7-speed trying to figure out where I was losing speed," Paul continued. "The engine we got from Ford today was significantly better. I was on the limiter in seventh for the last hundred yards on the backstraight."

Jourdain came closest to toppling Tracy but the Mexican was again hindered by uncooperative traffic. This time, the culprit was his countryman, Mario Dominguez.

"It was a really frustrating day," Michel said. "It happened yesterday, it happened today, and it happened the last two weekends. It's like people are going out on the track just to block other people, and if it isn't seen on television, nothing is done."

Junqueira was fourth fastest on Saturday with a 59.332s lap, but his provisional pole guaranteed him a front row starting spot for Sunday's 112-lap race - although it will also ensure he starts from the dirty side of the track.

"We waited until there were 30 minutes to go, but by then it had started raining," Bruno remarked. "During the first three or four laps when the tyres were at their best, I got traffic. I'm worried because this is one of those tracks where it may be better to start third than second."

Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier made it three Canadians in the top five, edging Sebastien Bourdais, who continues to get to grips with Bridgestone's softest street course tyre. Roberto Moreno turned in his best qualifying of the season to run seventh, heading Oriol Servia, top Reynard runner Jimmy Vasser and Adrian Fernandez.

Papis caused the only red flag of the session with a spin at Turn 8 as the Italian's struggles with PK Racing continued. He wound up 15th on the grid.

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