Wilson Takes Maiden Pole

Justin Wilson held onto the fastest time to secure his maiden Champ Car pole position at Portland on Saturday, as well as the first for the second-year RuSPORT team

Wilson Takes Maiden Pole

The 26-year-old Briton worked hard to better his Friday time of 57.597 seconds (122.756 mph), but the warmer Saturday weather prevented Wilson and many of the other top drivers from improving on their provisional qualifying times.

Teammate AJ Allmendinger ensured a perfect result for RuSPORT by retaining the outside front row starting berth.

"Obviously it feels very good to finally get the first pole and show what this team can do," said a delighted Wilson. "We are very happy to be 1-2. I think it also shows what we have been working towards. Each weekend we just get more confidence and are able to go quicker.

"I'm very excited and looking forward to the race tomorrow. I just want to get a good start obviously and try to get to the first corner first, then see how the race unfolds. It's going to be a very long race (206 miles, 105 laps), slightly longer than last year. Some strategy is going to come into play. You can't make any mistakes. What is going to be quite important is a lot of patience."

Allmendinger overcame a difficult morning practice session in which he had struggled for grip, and was visibly having to work harder at the wheel than Wilson to achieve comparable times.

The Californian revealed: "The team overall did a great job. We have been struggling a bit all weekend with the set-up of the car even though we have been quick. During practice we were at the worst we've been all weekend but the team did a fantastic job figuring it out. Today the car was at its best in qualifying."

Paul Tracy also relied on his Friday time for third on the grid in the leading Forsythe Championship Racing entry. An ignition problem caused his Ford-Cosworth engine to cut in and out in the morning practice session and then again during qualifying. Since the ECU units were replaced each time, apparently to no avail, the team will change engines for the race.

Tracy was unhappy that his flying lap was negated and was especially unhappy at wasting a set of softer 'alternate' tyres that could have been saved for the race - but he is upbeat about his prospects despite never having won a Portland Champ Car race in his long career.

"The car was pretty good but the track was slower today," he related. "There wasn't much we could do. The cloud cover we kept hoping for showed up just after the checkered flag unfortunately.

"We're in a good spot for the start tomorrow and the car is good on long runs. So I'm optimistic for the race."

Tracy will share the second row with fellow countryman Alex Tagliani, a situation that is certain to generate some fireworks at the start since both are emphatically not members of each other's fan club. Tracy is still sore about last year's Portland race, in which a lapped Tagliani held him up for several laps and prevented him from chasing down the Newman/Haas teammates for the win.

Sebastien Bourdais, who has 15 Champ Car poles to his credit in a little over two years, finds himself starting an uncharacteristic fifth. After boost problems hindered his efforts on Friday, Bourdais' Newman/Haas teammate Oriol Servia was one of the few drivers to improve his time in Saturday's warmer conditions and qualified an understeer-afflicted 12th.

Mario Dominguez bounced back from a crash at the end of morning practice to qualify sixth in the second Forsythe machine.

Spanning the spectrum of age and experience in the series, the fourth row consists of rookie Andrew Ranger, 18, driving for the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing team, and the oldest driver in the series, 39-year-old veteran Jimmy Vasser.

Danish rookie Ronnie Bremer captured ninth on the grid despite crashing and bringing the session to a premature end. Bremer's frontal crash caused severe chest pain from the force of the impact against his seat belts, but precautionary hospital X-rays were negative and he has been cleared to drive.

Vasser's PKV teammate, Formula One refugee Cristiano da Matta, rounds out the top 10.

Wilson Leads RuSPORT Front Row
Previous article

Wilson Leads RuSPORT Front Row

Next article

Power Failure Thwarts Bourdais

Power Failure Thwarts Bourdais
Why romanticism isn't the key factor in Lola’s racing return Plus

Why romanticism isn't the key factor in Lola’s racing return

The iconic Lola name is being relaunched after it was taken over by new ownership. Part of that reboot is a planned return to racing, though the exact details of this are still to be finalised - though its new owner does have a desire to bring the brand back to the Le Mans 24 Hours. But romanticism doesn't appear to be the driving force behind this renewed project...

Jul 14, 2022
Rating the best drivers of the century so far Plus

Rating the best drivers of the century so far

Autosport's Top 50 feature has been a staple of the magazine for the past two decades since its first appearance in 2002. Here are the drivers that have featured most prevalently during that time

Jan 7, 2022
The best motorsport moments of 2021 Plus

The best motorsport moments of 2021

Motorsport produced one of its greatest years of all-time in 2021 despite a backdrop of ongoing COVID-19 challenges and an ever-changing racing landscape. Through the non-stop action Autosport has collected the finest moments from the past 12 months to highlight the incredible drama and joy motorsport generates

Dec 31, 2021
The racing comeback artists who resurrected long-dormant careers Plus

The racing comeback artists who resurrected long-dormant careers

Making it in motorsport can be tough, and sometimes drivers move elsewhere before their best chance arrives. Here are some of those who made it back

Dec 26, 2021
The hidden racing gem attracting ex-F1 heroes Plus

The hidden racing gem attracting ex-F1 heroes

It’s rarely mentioned when it comes to assessing the best national contests, but the Brazilian Stock Car series that reaches its climax this weekend has an ever-growing appeal. Its expanding roster of ex-Formula 1 names has helped to draw in new fans, but it's the closeness of competition that keeps them watching

Dec 10, 2021
The one-time Schumacher rival rebooting his career Down Under Plus

The one-time Schumacher rival rebooting his career Down Under

Joey Mawson made waves in the middle of the last decade, beating future Haas Formula 1 driver Mick Schumacher - among other highly-rated talents - to the 2016 German F4 title. A run in F1's feeder GP3 category only caused his career to stall, but now back in Australia Mawson's S5000 title success has set that to rights

May 8, 2021
The lesson football’s would-be wreckers could learn from racing Plus

The lesson football’s would-be wreckers could learn from racing

OPINION: The greed-driven push for a European Super League that threatened to tear football apart is collapsing at the seams. Motor racing's equivalent, the football-themed Superleague Formula series of 2008-11, was everything that the proposed ESL never could be

Apr 21, 2021
The F1 and Indy 'nearly man' that found contentment in Japan Plus

The F1 and Indy 'nearly man' that found contentment in Japan

Having had the door to F1 slammed in his face and come within three laps of winning the Indianapolis 500, the collapse of a Peugeot LMP1 shot meant Japan was Bertrand Baguette's last chance of a career. But it's one which he has grasped with both hands

Feb 27, 2021