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Schumacher will start in fifth

By Associated Press
Published May 23, 2004

MONTE CARLO, Monaco - Michael Schumacher will have his worst starting position of the season at the Monaco Grand Prix, where he will be trying to win his sixth straight Formula One race.

Jarno Trulli of Italy captured the pole position Saturday - the first pole of his career - while Schumacher had the fifth-fastest qualifying time.

The six-time world champion was bidding for a 60th first place on the grid but instead will start on the second row today. Previously this season, he had four poles and one second.

"It is going to be much tougher - traffic, start, a much more critical environment," Schumacher said. "We are not very happy about where we are starting from, but we will still do the race and try our best.

Added Trulli: "For once, he is not on the front row. For once, I am."

Trulli powered his Renault around the winding, narrow streets of Monaco in 1 minute, 13.985 seconds. His previous best qualifying in Monaco was in 2000, when he was second on the grid.

Ralf Schumacher was second in 1:14.345 but will start 10 places back because his Williams-BMW blew an engine earlier in the race weekend. Button, in a BAR-Honda, was third fastest in 1:14.396. He joins Trulli on the front row.

CHINESE CHECKERED FLAG?: The head of Formula One would like to have a Chinese-backed team as early as 2005, and he also wants a Chinese driver.

"From about 1.3-billion people, we've got to find somebody," Bernie Ecclestone said a day before the race in Monte Carlo.

China is too far from Europe to base an F1 team there, Ecclestone said. But he hopes for "Chinese involvement" with a Europe-based team, suggesting Chinese petroleum and chemical giant Sinopec Corp. as a possible backer.

INDIANAPOLIS 500: Tradition might yet triumph at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Going into the final round of time trials today, it's going to take seven drivers to fill the traditional 33-car lineup for the May 30 race. By the end of Saturday's practice, six had rides and had turned laps on the 21/2-mile oval. There have not been fewer than 33 starters in the 500 since 30 took the green flag in 1947.

BUSCH SERIES: Kyle Busch won the pole for today's Goulds Pumps ITT Industries 200 in Nazareth, Pa., turning a fast lap at 131.167 mph in hot conditions.

CHAMP CARS: Sebastien Bourdais captured the Monterrey Grand Prix pole by breaking his track record with a lap time of 1 minute, 13.915 seconds in Mexico.

[Last modified May 22, 2004, 23:37:24]

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