Burke Lakefront Airport may have been converted to a race track for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by LaSalle Bank, but Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald’s Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) resembled a jet fighter pilot lapping the 2.106-mile temporary circuit in 56.961 seconds (133.102 mph). Bourdais, the three-time defending Series champion, earned the provisional pole and guaranteed front row starting spot on his seventh lap around the track.
Team Australia’s dynamic duo of Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) and Simon Pagenaud (#15 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) were second and third fastest. Power lapped the temporary circuit on the shores of Lake Erie in 57.301 seconds (132.312 mph) with Pagenaud hot on his heels at 57.338 seconds (132.226 mph). Power turned his quickest lap on his 13th circuit while the rookie Pagenaud experimented by running on the Bridgestone alternate tires during his second stint. He was unable to go faster on the “Reds” but hopes the team learned some things for tomorrow’s qualifying session.
Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) was fourth fastest with a time of 57.427 seconds (132.022 mph). Wilson and his CDW car started from the pole during the last event in Portland. His RSPORTS teammate Alex Tagliani (#8 LXN2 Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) was sixth quick with a lap at 57.652 seconds (131.506 mph).
Sandwiched between the RSPORTS squad is PKV Racing rookie Neel Jani (#21 Red Bull-Gulfstream Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone), who was near the top of the time sheets all session and finished in the fifth spot with a time of 57.535 seconds (131.774 mph).
Earning the seventh quickest time in the session was Graham Rahal (#2 Medi|Zone Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone). The Columbus, Ohio native is trying to imitate his father, three-time Champ Car titlist Bobby Rahal, who won his first Champ Car race at the inaugural Grand Prix of Cleveland in 1982.
Forsythe Championship Racing teammates Oriol Servia (#7 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) and Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) were eighth and tenth quickest respectively. With rookie sensation Robert Doornbos (#14 Minardi Team USA Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) slated in the ninth position.
Friday’s qualifying session was very heated with only one-half-second separating positions two through 11 on the time sheet.
Final qualifying for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented LaSalle Bank will begin at 2:00 p.m. Eastern on Saturday. The race is scheduled for Sunday, June 24 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern and can be seen live on CBS Sports. Fans can also follow all of the action via the official website of the Champ Car World Series, www.champcar.ws.
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QUOTES FROM THE TOP THREE FRIDAY QUALIFIERS
Simon Pagenaud: “Basically this morning , I thought I knew the track, but it is a lot more narrow. Every corner popped up pretty quickly to my eye. I had to review my reference points, my brake points, all of that. But after eight laps, I would get back to speed and was able to score a top five this morning. So I think we're already on a good pace. Can't wait for tomorrow already.”
Will Power: “As the track gripped up it became a little bit more understeer. My first run, it's easy to overdrive this track because there's so much room on the entries. All I had to do was put a lap together. I sort of did that in the second run, but I still sort of just got to work things out a little bit better in my head, just do a nice neat lap.”
Sebastien Bourdais: “I'd rather start on the front row than back in the pack. We'll see what happens. I think the McDonald's team did a good job. The car was pretty good. I think it was a little harder to do it on the second run because there was a lot of traffic and I didn't kind of slot in the right place on the racetrack. I had a slow car in front. You know, it was just kind of playing yo-yo a little bit. It's never really easy when you can't put a string of laps around here. You really need to get in the rhythm and get it a little bit faster lap after lap. I think we were pretty lucky we held onto it on the last run. We'll see how it goes. But it seems to be going on for a good weekend.”