MONTERREY, Mexico -- France's Sebastien Bourdais captured
the provisional pole for the Monterrey Grand Prix on Friday,
turning a fast lap of 1 minute, 15.978 seconds.
Bourdais reached a speed of 99.692 mph on the tight, winding,
2.1-mile road course at Fundidora Park.
Bourdais won the Monterrey pole last year as a rookie, setting a
track record for qualifying with a top speed of 101.076 mph. He led
the first 16 laps of last year's race, but a radio malfunction
caused him to miss a chance to pit and allowed eventual winner Paul
Tracy to overtake him on the 17th lap.
"This track owes us a win," said Bourdais, who drives for
Newman Haas Racing. "If you really are aggressive but stay between
the white lines, you really can do something great."
Tracy, who won the season-opener last month in Long Beach,
Calif., made contact with Patrick Carpentier and the small crash
sent the defending Monterrey champion's Ford-powered Lola into the
grass and red-flagged qualifying. Tracy did not make another
appearance on the track.
Two other red flags slowed the action Friday. Mexican driver
Roberto Lavin spun into the grass infield, and Mario Haberfield
collided with a wall of tires ringing the track.
Bruno Junqueira, who won the pole in Long Beach, finished second
in provisional qualifying for the season's second race, posting a
time of 1:16.881 and a speed of 98.521 mph. The Brazilian finished
just off the lead despite spinning off the track on a curve and
steering through the grass.
"The track is very slippery," he said before qualifying.
"It's very challenging and easy to make mistake."
Rookie Justin Wilson was third in 1:16.881.
Canadian-born Alex Tagliani finished fourth and Mario Dominguez,
a fan-favorite from Mexico City, finished fifth during the
one-hour, three-tiered qualifying session on the narrow, slick
track that offers a view of the haze-shrouded, dragon-backed
mountains that flank Monterrey.