PAGENAUD POLE AND PATRIZI FIFTH GIVES DAY ONE ADVANTAGE TO TEAM AUSTRALIA Team Australia has taken the upperhand on day one of the final round of the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship and the battle for the $US2million series prize in wet ...
PAGENAUD POLE AND PATRIZI FIFTH GIVES DAY ONE ADVANTAGE TO TEAM AUSTRALIA
Team Australia has taken the upperhand on day one of the final round of the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship and the battle for the $US2million series prize in wet conditions in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin today.
Team Australia Atlantic ace and championship leader Simon Pagenaud has qualified on provisional pole position at the Road America circuit today, giving him a vital championship point towards his series total. The additional point means that a top four finish in Sunday's race will now assure the Frenchman the Atlantic championship over rival Graham Rahal.
Pagenaud's Team Australia team-mate Michael Patrizi also shone, qualifying provisional fifth fastest today in only his second Atlantic appearance. With his debut Montreal race weekend as his only previous experience in a Mazda-Cosworth Atlantic, the young Australian quickly adapted to the #5 Aussie Vineyards Swift and the challenging Road America layout to be around the front of the field in support of his team-mate's quest for the title.
Team Australia, which this weekend in chasing its first championship in its short history, had a dramatic change in fortunes over the day, having struggled in opening practice while both drivers drove the circuit for the first time before changing car set-up for qualifying.
The changes by Team Australia proved a masterstroke, as Pagenaud improved from 15th in practice to be fastest in qualifying and Patrizi rising from 20th in practice to be fifth. Pagenaud's provisional pole assures him of a front row start for Sunday's race.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY --
Simon Pagenaud -- #15 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards/Location U/Cons. Gen. Vienne Swift
"This morning I was struggling a lot with my driving line," said Pagenaud.
"The set-up was not the one I was used to. Montreal was good on the wet conditions so we went back to the basic set-up that we had before. From the first lap I was able to say the car was better, but I was too far off the pace.
"I understood the track, then I made a mistake and went off the line and picked up some grip there and thought 'oh this is funny, maybe there is grip in other places than what I was thinking', so I did that in every corner and it worked. I made it to P2. In the end I knew I could do it, the car was great, and in the last lap we did it.
"It's one more point, great for the championship and it secures us for the weekend."
Michael Patrizi -- #5 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Swift
"We were P20 in practice and now we are P5 in qualifying," said Patrizi
"Simon and I both tried some stuff in the first session, and credit goes to the team, as we made some good changes for the qualifying session.
"The car was really good and it's just down to me now to keep pushing. I'm starting to learn with these cars with the downforce, because I've never driven a car with (this amount of) downforce before in relative terms. I'm just learning, learning, learning and we are not far off. Needless to say, I'm very happy with P5."
Derrick Walker -- Team Australia Co-Owner
"Considering the conditions today and the fact that neither of our Atlantic drivers have never raced here at Elkhart Lake, it was a really good day," said Walker.
"To come out with Simon on pole for today and Michael fifth, absolute terrific job from the Atlantic guys on the car set-up. We had a really good car today."
Craig Gore -- Team Australia Co-Owner
"Great start for Simon; I guess you couldn't ask for much more than that," said Gore.
"This will give him and the team plenty of confidence for the rest of the weekend, not that they needed any more motivation with the championship on the line.
"Michael had certainly turned plenty of heads today with a terrific qualifying performance and it would be great if he could start somewhere towards the front and be in a position to give some assistance to Simon."