RAPHAEL MATOS LEADS FURIOUS SAN JOSE FINAL QUALIFYING TO SECURE THIRD SERIES POLE POSITION
 
 

SAN JOSE, California (July 29, 2006) – Last Sunday, Raphael Matos saw his day end suddenly just a few miles from his first victory in the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. Less than a week later, the Brazilian rookie earned a bit of redemption, enjoying the last laugh in a furious final round of qualifying that saw three drivers post track-record times in the final six minutes while trying to win the pole.

After leading the opening-round of qualifying on Friday and topping the morning practice session Saturday at the 1.448-mile temporary street circuit in San Jose, Graham Rahal looked to be on track to win his fourth pole of the season. But several top series competitors had other ideas in the 30-minute qualifying session for Sunday’s Canary Foundation Grand Prix of San Jose Presented by Taylor Woodrow Atlantic race.

While Rahal, the impressive 17-year-old Mi-Jack Conquest Racing rookie who entered the weekend ranked third in the Atlantic standings, was the first driver to top his own track-record time from Friday qualifying, he certainly wasn’t the last. Both local racer Jonathan Bomarito of nearby Monterey, California and Matos each proved that they had the speed to knock Rahal from the pole as the exciting and caution-free qualifying session unfolded.

Bomarito moved to the top of the scoring chart for PR1 Motorsports with six minutes remaining in the session. After Rahal reclaimed the top spot just two minutes later, Matos recorded a blazing lap of 55.495 (93.608 mph) on his 25th orbit on the streets of San Jose to win the pole and establish a new series track record. Matos then had a bit of unexpected excitement on his next lap as the checkered flag brought an end to the edge-of-your-seat qualifying. He went into the runoff area in Turn 6 at the seven-turn circuit, coming to rest at the tire wall without causing any damage to his car.

The result gave Matos his third pole of the season as he tied Rahal for the series lead. It also helped put the memory of last weekend’s heartbreak in his rearview mirror as he’ll get another chance to earn his first series victory when he starts on point in Sunday’s race.

Rahal settled for the second-fastest time of the day with his top lap of 55.532 (93.546 mph). The son of former Champ Car champion Bobby Rahal will start on the front row for the fifth time this season when he lines up next to Matos on Sunday.

Bomarito’s quick time of 55.603 (93.427 mph) was also impressive as he earned a third-place starting spot. The effort marked the second-best qualifying result for second-year series racer. Bomarito qualified second at Toronto earlier this year and he turned that into his best-ever series finish of second place on race day.

In just his second Atlantic race, North Hills, California’s Colin Fleming of Gelles Racing produced a solid fourth-place qualifying result with a fast time of 55.621 (93.396 mph). The former F1 hopeful scored a top-10 finish last week in Edmonton after joining the series from Europe.

Series leader Simon Pagenaud improved on a seventh-place result in the opening-round of qualifying by posting the fifth-fastest time. Clocking a lap of 55.630 (93.381 mph), the French rookie racer will carry an 18-point lead in the championship chase into Round 9 action tomorrow.

Polestar Racing Group’s Alan Sciuto enjoyed another solid qualifying after a third-place result on Friday. The 18-year-old Orange, California rookie equaled his best qualifying of the season in sixth place with his time of 55.647 (93.353 mph). Andreas Wirth of Forsythe Racing, ranked second in the championship behind Pagenaud, qualified outside the top five for just the third time this season. Wirth recorded a fast lap of 55.648 (93.351 mph).