Qualifying: Tagliani's hometown pole

Alex Tagliani delighted a large hometown crowd by grabbing pole position for the Montreal round of the Champ Car World Series. A highly competitive qualifying session saw the Quebecois emerge fastest as the top seven runners were covered by two tenths of a second.

Qualifying: Tagliani's hometown pole

With traffic expected to be an issue, most of the front runners went out immediately when the green flag flew. It took less than five minutes for Sebastien Bourdais to beat Oriol Servia's overnight pole time of 1m21.112s, but Bourdais was soon demoted to third by Paul Tracy and Tagliani. Tagliani ran a 1m19.665s on his fifth lap, an effort that stood up to the end of the 40-minute session.

Bruno Junqueira came closest, notching a 1m19.671s effort on his final lap. But thanks to CART's qualifying rules that guarantee a front row spot to the provisional pole winner, Junqueira will start third behind Oriol Servia. The Spaniard came close to matching his Friday achievement, with a 1m19.757s lap good for fourth on the day.

It was Tagliani's fourth career Champ car pole, but his first for the first-year Rocketsports team. The French-Canadian ace started from the pole earlier this year at Milwaukee, but that was because the grid was determined by practice times after qualifying was rained out.

"I'm very happy for my guys," Tagliani said after averaging 122.418mph. "This team has come a long way in a short time. I'm glad Paul Gentilozzi had the confidence in me to put me in his car and I think we're on the way to creating a very good team here.

"Pole is good," he added, "but we have to work hard to finish the other 50 percent of the job tomorrow."

Gentilozzi, who expects to receive confirmation this weekend that Open Wheel Racing Series' bid to purchase CART has been approved by the CART Board of Directors, was delighted by his team's achievement.

"When people believe in each other, this is what happens," he said. "The emotional boost of this is so unbelievable."

Servia tried hard and made a great save from a big slide at the final chicane on his final lap, which was timed at 1m19.843s. He had to settle for the outside of the front row, his best-ever Champ Car grid position.

"We waited to go out and it was a good strategy," he said. "But something on the undertray broke, which spoiled my first run. The way the stars have been this year, this is a great result for the Visteon/Patrick team."

Junqueira was pleased to be starting five places ahead of championship leader Tracy, who could only manage a 1m20.015s lap.

"My car was very good today and throughout the weekend, but Tag was a rocket ship and he was six thousandths better than me," Junqueira said. "It's very close at the front and I think it's going to be a very difficult race, especially since Oriol and Tag are looking for their first win."

Michel Jourdain (1m19.751s) will start fourth, followed by fan favourite Patrick Carpentier (1m19.810s). Bourdais improved to 1m19.818s on his final lap, but it was only good enough for sixth place ahead of Jimmy Vasser and Tracy.

"I couldn't get the car stopped that well - that's been our struggle all weekend," Tracy reported. "Tiago Monteiro really screwed up my best lap, but it would have only been worth a position or two. We clearly didn't have the fastest car today."

Saturday practice: Oriol on top again
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