PAGENAUD GRABS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD FOR TEAM AUSTRALIA Team Australia's Simon Pagenaud has shown his determination and professionalism as a driver to come from 15th on the grid to finish fourth and grab the Champ Car Atlantic Championship lead at...
PAGENAUD GRABS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD FOR TEAM AUSTRALIA
Team Australia's Simon Pagenaud has shown his determination and professionalism as a driver to come from 15th on the grid to finish fourth and grab the Champ Car Atlantic Championship lead at the Molson Grand Prix of Toronto today in Ontario, Canada.
The Frenchman suffered engine problems in qualifying that prevented him from showing the usual front-running pace of the Team Australia #15 Swift. But despite starting the race from the mid-field, Pagenaud drove hard and kept his nose clean in the incident-packed event to finish fourth and claim the championship lead.
Now in the second half of the Atlantic season, Pagenaud has his sights set on the championship crown and the $US2million prize that the series winner will be able to put towards a drive in the 2007 Champ Car World Series.
Australian James Davison was also on the charge on race day, the young Victorian driving with maturity to come from 20th on the grid to finish in 12th position to continue to collect points towards his championship tally.
Both drivers worked hard overnight with the Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards crew to improve the set-ups of the cars and on race day that work paid dividends, with Pagenaud and Davison reporting better car handling on race day.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY --
SIMON PAGENAUD -- TEAM AUSTRALIA/AUSSIE VINEYARDS #15 SWIFT
"My start was not perfect. I don't know what really happened, I think my clutch was little problem with my clutch," said Pagenaud.
"I was on the limiter, but the first gear didn't pull out. I shifted up to second and the car went faster and on the first corner I was completely on the inside. I broke a little bit later than everybody. Then I saw this crash I was close to the tyres, stopped and caught a place. After that I was P5 and I fought. The race was normal and I had a really good car, so we were able to catch some people in front of us.
"I'm really happy right now because it was a bad race for us in the beginning and now we are first in the points, so I'm really excited and ready for Edmonton."
JAMES DAVISON -- TEAM AUSTRALIA/AUSSIE VINEYARDS #5 SWIFT
"Today was a much better day," said Davison. "I got a good start and passed about five guys once I got into turn one. Then typically there was an accident, so Philippe and I had to go down the escape road and do a flick spin or else we would have gotten jammed in it.
"Then once we went green again I passed Philippe and caught another car. By the time I got them done the gap to Sperafico was very long. I was doing better times as the race progressed.
"I didn't quite have the car to give me that extra half a second I needed to mix it up to the top five. It's improving, I just need to get my qualifying performance on paper.
"I had top ten speed in Cleveland, and Edmonton is an airport circuit like Cleveland, so I should be able to show what I've got in Edmonton.
DERRICK WALKER -- TEAM AUSTRALIA CO-OWNER
"During the weekend we didn't have the car as good as we needed it, but we never gave up on either of the cars," said Walker.
"We worked continuously throughout the weekend to get the set-up better. Both drivers did an excellent job in the race and we had two solid finishes. We can keep our championship hopes alive."
CRAIG GORE -- TEAM AUSTRALIA CO-OWNER
"Simon has been rewarded for his determination and focus with the championship lead," said Gore. "Now he is there, I think it is going to take some work to take it off him.
"He has a sniff of the $US2 million champion's purse and desperately wants the opportunity to step up into Champ Car next season.
"They might not have won the World Cup, but I think Simon Pagenaud is determined to give the French something to cheer about this year.
"James again produced a solid result and is now continually knocking on the door of the top 10, which is a fantastic effort considering his race car experience.
"I think James is laying the foundation for a very solid motor racing career. The experience he is gaining this season is remarkable."