Record Pace Despite Bhp Cut

Champ Car officials and Ford-Cosworth have modified the 'spec' XFE engine used by all 18 competitors to cope with the special demands of racing at high altitude in Denver, Colorado

Boost pressure has been reduced by two inches Hg to avoid over-speeding the turbochargers in the rarefied air of the Mile High City, where they have to work harder than at sea level.

Despite the consequent reduced horsepower and throttle response, Paul Tracy set a new official lap record of 59.759 seconds (99.821mph) for the 1.647-mile street course, eclipsing Sebastien Bourdais' year-old standard by two-tenths of a second.

Tracy, Bourdais and second-place qualifier Mario Dominguez had various theories as to why that might be.

"I think the tyre is probably a little bit better," ventured Tracy. "And I think it's cooler than last year here. Plus we've improved our car with shocks, springs, aero - our car is a lot different than it was last year when we came here."

Added Bourdais: "We're going a bit slower on the straight than last year, that's for sure, by 3-4mph. But we're only at top speed on one part of this course, and I think we're going slightly faster in the turns."

"The track seems to be a bit cleaner than last year, that's probably part of the reason," reckoned Dominguez.

"And my theory is that because the car has less horsepower, it's just a little bit easier to drive around a tight place like this. You can be on the throttle earlier, where before you had to be more careful because the back end [of the car] could go around.

"That might not be true, but it's my theory."

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