When Bruno Junqueira made contact with the wall during Friday morning's opening practice session around Miami's 1.15-mile Bayfront Park circuit many thought that the Brazilian born Newman-Haas driver had ruined his chances of claiming provisional pole for Sunday's Grand Prix Americas. Not so.

Despite having to take his three solo flying laps very early in Friday's single car qualifying session, when the bumpy but dry 14-turn circuit was theoretically much colder and slower than conditions expected at the end of the session, Junqueira simply gave his rivals no chance.

As the fourth car to run, Junqueira saved his best for last and put down a superb 45.024secs lap on his final flier, a time more than two seconds quicker than anything seen up until that point.

One driver more disheartened than most at Junqueira's time was Paul Tracy, who was the very first car to qualify after he too crashed in practice and could only manage a 47.401secs lap in his Team Player's Lola-Ford. Although nobody would come remotely close to challenging Junqueira's time, 12 drivers would lap underneath Tracy's mark, leaving the current points leader only 14th on the overnight grid.

Behind Junqueira, who reduced his points deficit to Tracy to 17, there was a late change in the order as Mika Salo took advantage of the opportunity to take a second qualifying run at the very end of the session to snatch a surprise front row slot from Junqueira's teammate Sebastien Bourdais.

Salo, who had earlier put the PK Racing Lola third on the practice sheets, had his initial qualifying run ruined when Darren Manning, second in practice and the penultimate car to qualify, brushed the wall on his warm-up lap and spoiled Salo's final flier. Salo was then allowed to complete his qualifying run in its entirety, with only his third and final lap officially timed. However with the track at its very best, Salo was able to stop the clocks in a time of 45.686secs, a shade under seven tenths slower than Junqueira and eight hundredths quicker than a rather peeved Bourdais.

Michel Jourdain Jr was fourth fastest, more than one second slower than Junqueira, with Adrian Fernandez fifth and Oriol Servia sixth. Alex Tagliani recovered well from a poor practice session to post seventh fastest time ahead of Mario Dominguez, Florida native Ryan Hunter-Reay and his teammate Jimmy Vasser.

Outside the top ten, where times were more than 1.5secs slower than Junqueira, Patrick Carpentier wasn't overjoyed with eleventh fastest time while Manning was allowed to return to the pits, change a flat tyre and complete his qualifying run in its entirety, although possible damaged steering resulted in a circumspect 13th quickest time.

 

Comments

Loading Comments...