CLICK: Full qualifying results from Toronto
Sebastien Bourdais claimed his first Verizon IndyCar Series pole position on Saturday afternoon in Toronto ahead of the first race of this weekend's Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader.
Bourdais' time of 58.9479s (107.179mph) in the final round of qualifying on the 1.7-mile, 11-turn street circuit was 0.1546s faster than Will Power's best effort, with the Penske driver set to start alongside him.
The French driver's last US open wheel pole position was back in September 2007 at a Champ Car World Series race at Assen, almost seven years and 54 open wheel race starts ago. Bourdais - who was four-time Champ Car champion - started on pole in Toronto four times in that championship, so he's certainly used to starting at the front in Canada.
“It's a bit of casino race here. Anything can happen," said the 35-year-old from Le Mans, who is the tenth different pole winner in the 13 races so far in 2014. "But we keep on displaying pace and showing up at the front, so hopefully at some point it's going to break and we're going to make it."
As for Power, he was relieved to be back at the sharp end of the grid after a number of recent disappointing qualifying sessions on street and road courses this season.
We have been knocking on the door the past few races. It is just what I have been saying all along. I think we are getting better," said Power. "Every weekend the team is definitely finding the stuff that we were missing to be extremely competitive everywhere. Today was one of those days. We are back in the Fast Six, so we will see what we can do from there."
Power's Penske team mate Helio Castroneves will start from the second row of the grid. He was the only driver to record a sub-59s lap during qualifying, which he did when he pipped Bourdais to the honours in Round 2 of the elimination format that decides the grid for race 1. However, the Brazilian couldn't quite repeat that form in the third and final round that decided pole.
"We qualified third and we're kind of upset about it," he admitted. "That's a good thing," he pointed out, adding: "It's a great position to start the race."
Alongside Castroneves on the second row will be Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay, while Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsport's Simon Pagenaud and Ganassi's Tony Kanaan will make up row three. In total, five different teams made it through to the Firestone Fast Six, with only Penske putting more than one driver into the pole shootout.
In the manufacturer standings, Chevrolet had the clear edge with four of the top six using their engines and only two with Honda units. However, the honours are even over the top ten with five representatives apiece.
Luca Filippi missed out on the final round by just 0.0173s on his return to duty for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, meaning he will start in seventh place alongside Dale Coyne Racing's Justin Wilson. Andretti Autosport's local hero James Hinchcliffe and Ganassi's Ryan Briscoe round out the top ten.
Scott Dixon failed to make it beyond round 2 and indeed finished bottom of that phase of qualifying, admitting afterwards that he'd brushed the wall and bent some of the suspension on the #9 during his run, leaving him unable to improve in the time remaining.
A more spectacular incident came at the very end of qualifying, when Simon Pagenaud clouted the wall hard at turn 1 after the chequered flag had come out. The SPM pit crew will have their work cut out to put the #77 back together again in time for the start of the 85-lap race which is due to get underway at 3.55pm local time (8.55pm BST) on Saturday afternoon with a standing start.
While qualifying was dry, forecasts have stated that rain will hit the area before the green flag or even during the race itself, with radar images tracking a large and slow-moving storm system that is bound to make things interesting for all concerned.
See full qualifying results from Toronto