Servia Runs Bourdais Close

Oriol Servia came within a whisker of stealing Newman/Haas teammate Sebastien Bourdais' thunder in provisional qualifying at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

Servia has amassed an impressive 160 points and five podium finishes since joining the Illinois-based squad as a substitute for the injured Bruno Junqueira at Milwaukee in June, hauling himself from 13th to third in the Championship standings.

However he has been comprehensively outperformed by Bourdais in qualifying, with an average starting position of 6.43 over that period compared to 4.00 for the Frenchman.

But in Montreal on Friday, Servia matched Bourdais to the last tenth of a second, losing out on the overnight pole by a mere 0.086s.

Moreover, his next flying lap was set to eclipse Bourdais until he ran out of fuel at the hairpin (which is located just a few hundred yards shy of the timing line used for qualifying at the island circuit).

"I don't want to be over-confident, but I have the feeling we're going to be in good shape," said Servia. "We [Newman/Haas] are obviously four-tenths clear of everybody else. It's very impressive for the team.

"This morning in practice, every time I had a good lap a red flag came out so it didn't count. In qualifying I had a good lap going that looked like it was going to beat Sebastien, but ran out of fuel in the last corner.

"But it's OK. I'm happy that the car is good. I still have tomorrow and Sunday. Things are going well."

With Bourdais seemingly heading inexorably towards a second successive title, Servia has set his sights on overhauling Paul Tracy for second place in the drivers' standings.

"PT's always strong, and he's going to be up there every race so it's going to be tough - but that's my target," Servia said.

The Spaniard's other objective is to score his maiden Champ Car victory, which continues to elude him after 94 career starts.

He has been mildly criticised in some quarters this year for being too willing to play the bridesmaid to Bourdais and lacking the killer instinct.

But that's not how Bourdais sees their relationship: "Are you kidding me? He's trying to kick my ass," he insisted.

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