Montoya On Third Straight Pole

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Some might call it a dubious honor, but in Formula One this season Saturdays belong to Juan Pablo Montoya. It’s on Sundays that the young Colombian struggles a little.

The second-year driver won his third straight pole Saturday, fourth of the season, and will start Sunday’s Grand Prix of Europe at Nuerburgring alongside teammate Ralf Schumacher. Montoya has failed to finish his last two races, leaving the race early with engine problems. He has six Top 5 finishes in the races he has completed this season.

Montoya posted a blistering 1:29.906 pole0winning run to top Schumacher with 12 minutes remaining. Schumacher’s run was 1:29.915, just .009 seconds behind his teammate.

“I am very pleased with today’s pole, especially because it came as a bit of a surprise,” said Montoya, who has qualified fourth or better in seven of the eight races this season. “After this morning’s practice sessions we were not expecting anything higher than the second row, actually. We changed the car quite a lot from this morning but in my first run I made a mistake, the second went better and on my third run I got the pole.

“I still don’t know where the speed came from and I must admit that luck also played a part in my result. Tomorrow is going to be a hard race where I think the tires will be a key factor.”

Michael Schumacher will start third, alongside Rubens Barrichello, while David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen will start fifth and sixth, respectively. Renault teammates Jarno Trulli and Jenson Button qualified seventh and eighth.

Michael Schumacher suffered from rare car problems in qualifying Saturday, and was forced to switch to the team’s backup car after a gear change problem. He posted just 10 laps in qualifying. He was, however, fastest in the free practice session Saturday.

“On my first run, my race car got stuck in gear, which is why I had to switch to the spare,” Schumacher said. “We fine tuned it during the session, but it is impossible for me to say if I would have been quicker in my race car. On my final run, I was briefly quickest, but I made two little mistakes at the two final corners.

“I pushed too hard and just overdid it. I have no excuses and but for those mistakes I could have taken pole. As for the race, we have started in worse situations, so I will just have to deal with it. I am not worried about losing position to the McLarens behind me at the start.”

Michael Schumacher, who leads the driver’s standings by 43 points over Montoya and Ralf Schumacher, won the Grand Prix of Europe last year. Montoya finished second.

The Grand Prix of Europe takes the green flag Sunday, June 23 at 7:30 a.m. ET.

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