Gil de Ferran won a heated duel with Dario Franchitti today to take the pole position for the Toronto Molson Indy.
Earning his second pole in three races, de Ferran turned a lap in a track record 110.121 mph to bump provisional pole winner Franchitti into second with just over 12 minutes remaining in the 30-minute session.
Moments later, he upped the mark on the 1.755-mile, 11-turn temporary road course tucked between downtown Toronto and Lake Ontario to 110.565.
"It was a bit of a nailbiting session for us," de Ferran said. "I did a good lap early and fell to fourth and that wasn't good. Then I came in to change to my second set of tires and I stayed for a while to think about it a little bit.
Moments before de Ferran drove his Walker Racing Reynard-Honda onto the track, Franchitti, who won the provisional pole on Friday with a lap of 109.023, set a new target at 110.102.
"I did a pretty good lap and the next time I looked up Gil was two tenths faster," Franchitti said. "My only problem in qualifying was not being fast enough. But it was a great performance by Gil."
This is a track where caution flags usually come in bunches and passing is often an exercise in frustration.
"It should be a normal Toronto race," noted five-time winner Michael Andretti, who will start third after qualifying at 109.594.
"There will probably be a yellow come out on that magical lap where you have to make a decision whether to come in to pit or not," Andretti said. "Depending on the decision, it will probably become a fuel conservation race after that."
Jimmy Vasser, just as Andretti a former series champion, qualified fourth at 109.520, followed by Christian Fittipaldi.
Rookie Juan Montoya, Vasser's teammate and the series points leader, will start eighth--his worst qualifying effort since starting 15th in Japan, the second race of the season.
Montoya's best lap was 108.637, putting him behind last year's top rookie, Tony Kanaan, and local favorite Paul Tracy, a native of Toronto.
The 23-year-old Colombian showed his lack of patience and his inexperience today by tearing up both sets of qualifying tires in an effort to improve his car's performance.
Still, Montoya heads into Sunday's race with leads of 18 points over Andretti, 25 over de Ferran and 28 over Franchitti.
CAPTION: Brazilian Gil de Ferran, above, won a close duel with Scot Dario Franchittito capture the pole at Toronto Molson Indy in a track record 110.121 mph.
CAPTION: Toronto native and sentimental favorite Paul Tracy grabbed sixth positionin CART race that's known for its bunches of caution flags and frustrations.