Wirth Returns to the Podium in Edmonton Edmonton, Alberta -- July 24, 2006 -- Looking to re-gain the Championship points-lead after his career worst finish in Toronto, Andreas went into the weekend of competition with eager anticipation and...
Wirth Returns to the Podium in Edmonton
Edmonton, Alberta -- July 24, 2006 -- Looking to re-gain the Championship points-lead after his career worst finish in Toronto, Andreas went into the weekend of competition with eager anticipation and confidence. With only nine-points separating him from the new points-leader, Wirth was optimistic about regaining the lead as he arrived in Edmonton with the experience of securing a third place finish at the venue's inaugural event in 2005.
While the results were acceptable for Wirth, it seems that frustration, flags and traffic have become the norm for Atlantic Series qualifiers in 2006. A disappointed Wirth had this to say of his third place provisional qualifying effort on Friday, "The beginning of qualifying was okay. We were on P1 on old tires and the car felt pretty good. After the first red flag we put new tires on, but that didn't go the way we had hoped -- the balance was off a bit and we needed to make a change. Unfortunately, another red came out and we didn't get a chance to make any adjustments. It's very frustrating - the red flag came out at exactly the wrong time! I was quickest in morning practice by a pretty good margin, and I think the Provisional Pole could have been mine. I'm not worried though, we're right there and I'm sure the final session will go better tomorrow. I had some bad luck in Cleveland and Toronto, so I think it's my turn this weekend."
In addition to the irritation of red flags, Wirth suffered a pulled muscle in his upper back during qualifying on Friday. He was subsequently examined by the Champ Car Medical team and cleared to compete in the rest of the weekend's activities.
Final qualifying on Saturday resulted in a fourth place result for Andreas, and a fourth place spot on Sunday's starting grid. "The car was really good today, but I'm not as happy as I'd like to be," said Wirth. "Several times I was on fast laps but I came up on traffic. It's a bit disappointing. It would be a lot easier to lead from the front, that's for sure! I can't complain too much though, the team did a fantastic job this weekend and I want to give them credit. Every time we had some sort of handling issue they were able to improve the car for me right away. I feel good about it -- it's going to be a great race!"
Intent on liberation from a string of bad luck, Wirth began the day Sunday with a bang -- not the impressive, fireworks kind of bang, but a hard hit into the turn nine tires. Despite posting the fastest lap in morning practice, this obviously wasn't the attention-getter Wirth was hoping to produce on race day! Andreas reports, "My warm-up was going really well, the car was great! I don't know why the accident happened. The rear just snapped out and I lost it, and if you're off-line, there's not much you can do. I'm just really happy they were able to fix my car -- the damage was pretty bad. I'm really sorry for my guys, and I can't thank them enough for their last minute hard work -- they did a great job to get the car ready for the race." Wirth says the hit looked worse than it was, and commented that he felt fine -- ready to race!
Hoping to make a different kind of impact in the race, Andreas got off to a less than spectacular start; however, he managed to run a clean race while some of his competitors experienced a little more excitement during an action packed race of spins, hits and off-roading! In the end, consistency and perseverance paid off as Wirth brought his Forsythe Racing entry home for a third place finish in Edmonton; his fifth podium finish for 2006. Relatively satisfied with his result, Wirth explained, "I had a terrible start; the motor bogged and I lost a spot. After that, the car felt pretty good, but we weren't up to speed today. The car just wasn't as good as it was before my accident in warm-up this morning. About halfway through the race I ran into traffic; Graham (Rahal) was able to get around, but I wasn't as lucky. I think I could have stayed with Graham, but I just lost more and more time with traffic. I knew I just had to focus and hold onto my position and the points. I was able to get back up to fourth when Joe (D'Agostino) started falling back, and then at the end Rafael (Matos) lost it at the front and went off, so that put me in P3. The podium outcome was good for sure, but it should have been better! I was really hoping for something more than third in Edmonton."
With four more races left on the Champ Car Atlantic schedule for 2006, Andreas Wirth now clings to second place in the standings with 169 points, only 18 points behind the leader and just 6 points ahead of third place. "There are still a lot of points we can get," explains Wirth, "We can still do it - I know we can! Next week is anyone's race -- San Jose is a crazy track, so it'll be interesting to see how it plays out -- I'm looking forward to it. As for this weekend though, I have to thank my Engineer and all of my guys for their hard work. They gave me a great car, and I feel really bad about wrecking it! I'm sorry they had to work extra hard to put it back together! My guys know I'll do everything I can next weekend, and we'll get it back in San Jose!"
-Andreas Wirth Racing