Servia makes Bourdais wait

Oriol Servia kept his title hopes mathematically alive by scoring his first ever Champ Car pole position at Surfers Paradise on Saturday

Servia makes Bourdais wait

By earning the attendant championship point, the Spaniard shaved Newman/Haas teammate Sebastien Bourdais' advantage to 67 points, with 68 still available over the final two races here and in Mexico City.

In reality, though, Servia merely secured a stay of execution, for Bourdais will automatically become champion by virtue of starting tomorrow's race; 19th and last place pays two points, enough to give him an insurmountable lead.

Friday's rain had given way to bright blue skies, ensuring that the spectacular Gold Coast scenery once again looked like the travel brochures.

Servia set the pace in the hour-long morning practice session and snatched pole with a perfectly timed run three minutes from the end of qualifying, lapping the tricky 2.795-mile street circuit in 1:32.616 (108.642mph) to usurp Mario Dominguez from the top of the charts.

The Mexican fought back valiantly but came up 0.051s short, and with fifth-fastest Bourdais having annexed a front-row slot by claiming provisional pole yesterday, Dominguez will line up third on the grid for tomorrow's race.

He will be flanked on the second row by 2002 series champion Cristiano da Matta, who matched his qualifying effort from the very different Las Vegas oval for PKV Racing.

For once, 2003 title holder Paul Tracy was upstaged by teammate Dominguez and brushed the wall in his efforts to improve in the closing stages, restricting him to fifth on the grid ahead of RuSPORT stablemates AJ Allmendinger and Justin Wilson and the second PKV entry of Jimmy Vasser.

Alex Tagliani paced the three-strong Team Australia contingent with the ninth fastest time, but only just shaded Aussie debutant Will Power, who qualified an excellent 11th.

Tagliani and Power were sandwiched by Timo Glock, who has a comfortable 40-point lead over Ronnie Bremer in the Rookie of the Year standings and is well placed to clinch that title tomorrow.

Glock's Rocketsports teammate Michael McDowell qualified a respectable 16th for his maiden Champ Car race, 0.9s adrift of the former Jordan Formula One driver.

Pos  Driver              Team                   Time
 1.  Oriol Servia        Newman Haas            1:32.616
 2.  Sebastien Bourdais  Newman Haas            1:33.211  +0.595
 3.  Mario Dominguez     Forsythe Championship  1:32.667  +0.051
 4.  Cristiano da Matta  PKV                    1:32.753  +0.137
 5.  Paul Tracy          Forsythe Championship  1:32.976  +0.360
 6.  A.J. Allmendinger   RuSPORT                1:33.250  +0.634
 7.  Justin Wilson       RuSPORT                1:33.360  +0.744
 8.  Jimmy Vasser        PKV Racing             1:33.703  +1.087
 9.  Alex Tagliani       Team Australia         1:34.137  +1.521
10.  Timo Glock          Rocketsports           1:34.554  +1.938
11.  Will Power          Team Australia         1:34.599  +1.983
12.  Rodolfo Lavin       HVM, Inc.              1:34.780  +2.164
13.  Marcus Marshall     Team Australia         1:34.854  +2.238
14.  Nelson Philippe     Mi-Jack Conquest       1:34.937  +2.321
15.  Ronnie Bremer       Dale Coyne             1:35.406  +2.790
16.  Michael McDowell    Rocketsports           1:35.415  +2.799
17.  Andrew Ranger       Mi-Jack Conquest       1:35.645  +3.029
18.  Ricardo Sperafico   Dale Coyne             1:35.711  +3.095
19.  Fabrizio del Monte  HVM, Inc.              1:36.268  +3.652
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