French racer grows Atlantics points lead with maiden series victory (Indianapolis, IN) 27 July 2006--With six front row starts in the first eight rounds of the 2006 Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season,...
French racer grows Atlantics points lead with maiden series victory
(Indianapolis, IN) 27 July 2006--With six front row starts in the first eight rounds of the 2006 Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season, it was only a matter of time before French racer Simon Pagenaud converted his blistering qualifying speed into a race victory.
Indeed, Pagenaud's time came last weekend in the West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix Presented by The Brick, as he crossed the finish line more than ten seconds ahead of fellow championship contender Graham Rahal to score his first Atlantic victory and grow his lead in the championship standings.
"This feels fantastic," said Pagenaud. "My car was the strongest this weekend and I wanted to win because it's not every weekend you can have this kind of car. I am very happy for Team Australia and of course this is very good for the championship."
Pagenaud put an exclamation point on his first win by setting the fastest lap of the race and scoring an extra championship point for the feat.
"I want to thank Derrick Walker and everyone with Team Australia who is working so hard on this program, because everyone from the mechanics to the engineers to the team manager is giving all their effort," said Pagenaud. "We are a strong team and everyone here is determined to win the championship."
The Team Australia pilot once again impressed on a track that he'd never seen before, scoring his forth Friday pole of the season on the fast Edmonton layout to secure a front-row starting position. Pagenaud got a good jump at the start, and was in the right place at the right time as he pressured race-leader Raphael Matos into a mistake to take the lead.
"I couldn't really pass Matos," said Pagenaud. "I was trying and I was damaging my front tires. So, I backed up a little bit and I set the fastest lap at this time. I tried to push him a little bit more and he made this mistake. I was not expecting this mistake at this time, but it was good for me because I was able to go even faster when he was not in front of me."
The race pace was hectic, setting a new Edmonton record for a thirty-six lap event on the temporary airport-based track.
Pagenaud will be looking to keep his momentum up this weekend as the Atlantics visit San Jose, California for the Canary Foundation Grand Prix of San Jose Presented by Taylor Woodrow for round nine.
With an eighteen-point lead in the championship and four rounds of Atlantic competition remaining in the season, Pagenaud knows that now is not the time to let up, as he is determined to see his name on the Championship trophy, not to mention wanting to see it on the $2 million dollar check that will go to the champion's Champ Car World Series 2007 effort.
"My main focus is winning the championship, but of course as a racer, you want to win every race," said Pagenaud. "I knew that if I was consistently at the front, that a win would come, so I will just try to keep up the pressure in the next rounds and hopefully keep moving closer to the championship."