Qualifying woe for Reynard-Toyota runners

A glance at the back half of the grid for Saturday's Firestone Firehawk 500 reveals one common denominator: the Reynard-Toyota package, which filled spaces 20 through 25, with the exception of Ford Cosworth-powered Bryan Herta in 22nd

Qualifying woe for Reynard-Toyota runners

The Toyota engine fared better in the Lola chassis. Team Target's Bruno Junqueira was the top Toyota qualifier in 5th place, with Cristiano da Matta, Christian Fittipaldi and Nicolas Minassian 12th, 14th and 15th respectively.

The Reynard-Toyota runners were reluctant to pinpoint the problem, but insiders believe that the Lola chassis inherently produces more downforce than the latest Reynard. In addition, Lola teams are able to trim more drag out of their cars for qualifying.

"The time I put up in qualifying was really all we had in the car," commented Nazareth winner Scott Dixon. "My car felt almost perfect with a small amount of understeer, but we're struggling with a little drag down the straights. My splits and mid-corner times are actually pretty good, but we just can't find enough straight-line speed, though I don't think we're short on horsepower."

Jimmy Vasser was more direct in his assessment.

"I think we got as much out of it as we could," said the Californian. "It seems the Reynard and the Toyota aren't working together very well. The teams, Toyota and Reynard have some work to do."

The poor performance is a particularly tough pill for Toyota to swallow as it is desperate to succeed at the Motegi track, which is owned by arch-rival Honda. Cars powered by Honda took the first four places on the grid.



Kenny Brack was disappointed to qualify sixth for the Firestone Firehawk 500 in his Shell Lola-Ford Cosworth as the Swede had qualified on the front row for every FedEx Championship Series race in 2001.

Brack was fifth fastest in the Friday morning practice at Motegi, but his best qualifying lap was a tenth of a second off of his best practice lap. He also came very close to brushing the wall exiting Turn Four on his first qualifying lap.

"That's qualifying," said Brack of his near 'whitewall'. "We've been struggling a little bit this weekend, so we took a bit of a conservative approach for qualifying. That's not the best scenario, but it could have been a lot worse. We're happy with what we achieved today. Qualifying was a step forward."

Brack said he would be more than happy to trade another front row start for his first Champ Car win.

"It was bound to happen," he said with a laugh. "It hasn't been that lucky for us to start on the front row anyway, so maybe we'll be better off now."

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