Montoya completed the Surfers Paradise street course in a time of 1min 31.722sec
Montoya snatches pole at Indy 300

GOLD COAST, Australia, Oct 14 (AFP) - Reigning CART champion Juan Montoya snatched pole position from the man poised to take his title, Brazil's Gil de Ferran, in the closing moments of qualifying for the Honda Indy 300 on Saturday.

Montoya completed the Surfers Paradise street course in a time of 1min 31.722sec, just over a 10th of a second faster than de Ferran had posted a few seconds earlier in his Honda Reynard.

"It was really good. I was just hitting everything very hard," Montoya said after picking up his 14th career pole and his seventh this season.

The time was set in less than ideal conditions.

In the morning, rain hampered practice and when the skies cleared for qualifying, winds were gusting at up to 70 kilometres an hour.

Leaves, dust and litter blew across the track.

After posting the quickest qualifying time on Friday, de Ferran appeared set to stay at the front of the grid and take a vital championship point until Montoya's second last run in his Toyota Lola.

"I had it for a moment," said de Ferran (1:31.827), who has a 19-point lead over Canada's Paul Tracy in the chase for the title.

Defending Indy 300 champion, Dario Franchitti posted the third fastest time (1:32.059) with Tracy in fourth spot on the grid (1:32.328).

"It's important for us to start up front. In my mind nothing changes, we've got to keep on trying to attack which is the way we've been doing throughout the weekend," de Ferran said.

"Hopefully I'll have a good race. One that will clinch me the championship."

If de Ferran can extend his championship lead by four points it will be the first time the CART title has been won outside North America.

US driver Michael Andretti had gearbox problems that caused him to stall during what would have been his fastest lap, leaving him sixth on the grid (1:34.556).

"I think we had a shot at the pole but there were so many red flags that I didn't get to show our potential," Andretti said.

Brazil's Christian Filast ttipaldi qualified in ninth position (1:35.259) after clipping a wall and snapping off the front right wheel of his Ford Lola.