CHAMPCAR/CART: Houston: Team Australia Thursday report

TEAM AUSTRALIA THIRD IN HOUSTON TEAM Australia's Alex Tagliani has posted the third quickest time in the opening qualifying session for this weekend's Houston Grand Prix in Texas -- round two of the Champ Car World Series. Tagliani recorded...

TEAM AUSTRALIA THIRD IN HOUSTON

TEAM Australia's Alex Tagliani has posted the third quickest time in the opening qualifying session for this weekend's Houston Grand Prix in Texas -- round two of the Champ Car World Series.

Tagliani recorded exactly the same time as fourth-placed AJ Allmendinger in his Aussie Vineyards Lola, but was given third spot because his second-fastest lap was quicker than the young American's.

Defending champion Sebastian Bourdais was more than half a second faster than the field during qualifying, but his car failed post-qualifying technical inspection and he was relegated to the back of the field.

Bourdais' team-mate Bruno Junqueira has taken provisional pole as a result from Canadian Paul Tracy and Tagliani.

Will Power was officially ninth in the second Aussie Vineyards Team Australia Lola, but could have also been further up the time sheets if not for a late session mishap.

Qualifying was halted by four red flags and turned into a whirlwind of activity in the final few minutes, as the majority of the field circulated around the 11-turn course in search of quick times.

Bourdais had supplanted his Newman/Haas Racing team-mate Junqueira atop the time charts just before the last of the four red flags flew, this time for the car of Power, who deposited his car in the turn five tyres.

Despite the incident Power is still the quickest rookie in the field.

It was in these last few minutes that Tagliani posted his time and gave himself a solid foundation on which to build tomorrow.

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY--.

ALEX TAGLIANI - #15 AUSSIE VINEYARDS TEAM AUSTRALIA

"It was a great team effort, it would have been interesting to see what Will could have done; he was doing really good early on," said Tagliani.

"I'm very pleased with the effort of the team, the car is getting better and better.

"We keep working hard, and it's been a good weekend so far. If we can keep that up for tomorrow, at the end of the day we will be better."

WILL POWER - # 5 AUSSIE VINEYARDS TEAM AUSTRALIA LOLA

"Unfortunately we got our quickest lap time taken away, so that was a bit disappointing," said Power.

"I found a little extra speed so the car should be better tomorrow."

DERRICK WALKER -- CO-OWNER

"We have some good early speed and that is encouraging," said Derrick.

"The track and is quite bumpy and the lights always take a little getting use to for the drivers, it is certainly a different experience out there.

"I think everything is on track for a solid final qualifying tomorrow."

CRAIG GORE -- CO-OWNER

"That was a pretty good start to the weekend and I am sure there is more to come," said Gore.

"The team is working well together and has not lost sight of our goals for this season.

"This is an important weekend for us from a business sense with Houston being a major potential market for Aussie Vineyards and our other Australian sponsors.

"We look forward to achieving some positive outcomes on and off the track this weekend."

***

ATLANTICS -- ROUND TWO

It was also a successful day for the Team Australia Champ Atlantic team with French rookie Simon Pagenaud fifth and his young Australian teammate James Davison 18th in qualifying.

Pagenaud, driving the #15 Team Australia/Location U/Cons. Gen. Vienne, was third in the afternoon practice session and topped the qualifying charts late into the session.

Unfortunately, the Team Australia pilot lost his rear wing in the Turn 1 chicane and caused a red flag. He lost his fast time as a penalty for bringing the session to a stop and wound up finishing fifth with a top lap of 1:05.642.

SIMON PAGENAUD
"It was disappointing because we could have had a pole position. We could have done it and we will have a better chance at it tomorrow," said Pagenaud.

JAMES DAVISON
"I'm building up to driving an Atlantic car. Tomorrow I can improve on qualifying, today's goal was to get a lap in. The car felt pretty good, now I've just got to catch Simon," said Davison.

-ta-

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About this article
Series Atlantic , IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Will Power , James Davison , Simon Pagenaud