CHAMPCAR/CART: Assen: PKV Racing Saturday notes

PKV RACING QUALIFIES BOTH CARS ON SECOND ROW FOR TOMORROW'S CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF BELGIUM GOMMENDY TO START THIRD, JANI FOURTH PKV Racing qualified both cars on the second row of the starting grid with Tristan Gommendy lining up third and...

PKV RACING QUALIFIES BOTH CARS ON SECOND ROW FOR TOMORROW'S CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF BELGIUM

GOMMENDY TO START THIRD, JANI FOURTH

PKV Racing qualified both cars on the second row of the starting grid with Tristan Gommendy lining up third and teammate Neel Jani fourth for tomorrow's Bavaria Champ Car Grand Prix in Assen, Holland.

Gommendy, #22 Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone car, qualified with a fast lap of 79.025 seconds (128.921) on the 2.83-mile, 14-turn TT Assen Circuit permanent road course. He will start on the inside of Row #2. Jani, in the #21 Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone machine, rana fast time of 79.302 seconds (128.471 mph) in today's final qualifying and will start next to his teammate on the outside Row #2.

This is the fifth time this year that both PKV Racing drivers have qualified in the top-10 and the first time they have both qualified in the top-five. The combined third and fourth starting positions tie for second best in team history behind a pole and fourth place starting positions by Jimmy Vasser and Cristiano da Matta, respectively, at Milwaukee in 2005. Vasser and da Matta also captured the second row, with Vasser starting third and da Matta fourth, in Las Vegas in 2005. Earlier this year Gommendy and Jani scored a pole and a sixth place starting position, respectively, at Mont-Tremblant.

Gommendy, who is among the fastest drivers in the series in wet conditions, ran the third fastest time during yesterday's qualifying, which was conducted in steady rain, running a quick time of 91.674 seconds (111.133 mph). However, he was dropped to fourth on the provisional grid as a result of a .2 of a second penalty for running one lap after the checkered flag. Today began with heavy showers early in the morning, which stopped about an hour before the first practice. Running on an essentially dry track, Gommendy continued to be among the fastest drivers posting a quick time of 80.197 seconds (127.037 mph) putting him fourth on the morning practice report . During the 15-minute afternoon practice/warm-up, he continued to serve notice that he would contend for a top-five starting spot after turning the fifth fastest lap of the session clocking a time a time of 81.089 seconds (125.640 mph). In qualifying things really came together as Gommendy was first after his first stint on the Bridgestone alternate (red) with a time of 79.598 seconds (127.993) and second on his second set turning his fast lap on the fifth of five laps run during the second stint and 11th and final overall. Despite running the second fastest time of the weekend, Gommendy starts third giving up the No. 2 spot to yesterday's provisional pole sitter Justin Wilson, who is guaranteed a front row spot based on having the fastest time in provisional qualifying.

Gommendy has now qualified in the top-10 six times in 11 attempts (did not qualify in Edmonton due to injury) this year with one pole. The 27-year-old resident of Paris, France has finished in the top-10 four times in the ten events he has contested with a best showing of fifth in his Champ Car debut at Las Vegas. Gommendy is 12th in the standings with 117 points, 48 out of 10th place and currently fifth in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year race.

"I think the Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing team had a good qualification," Gommendy said. "We came here without a lot of pressure on us because the season is almost over. But, we worked hard and we came up with quite a good setup. Dry track, wet track it did not make a difference. We were quick. We did some good fine tuning between the morning practice and this afternoon. My engineer, Yves Touron, did a good job, because the car was exactly how it was suppose to be. Obviously, we needed a step more to have a perfect car. But, I think we could have done the same time as Bourdais. I just didn't want to risk causing a red flag, because we were already in a good situation. I want to thank the whole Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing team. They did a good job. We just have to keep working hard for the race tomorrow."

Jani was 11th on the provisional grid following yesterday's qualifying, with a time of 93.043 seconds (109.498 mph). During this morning's practice, Jani showed the speed and skill that has made him a contender in almost every race this year recording the fastest time of the session, 79.797 seconds (127.674 mph), and the second fastest lap of the weekend. In the afternoon warm-up, Jani simply shook the car down in preparation for final qualifying, running a time of 81.645 seconds (124.784 mph) good for 12th on the speed charts. During qualifying Jani ran three stints. The first on the red tires went five laps and recording a quick time of 79.625 seconds (127.950) on the fifth lap he was temporarily second on the grid. His second stint, also on reds, went six laps with Jani logging his fast lap, the third fastest of the weekend, on the fourth lap of the stint and the ninth overall. With two minutes remaining in the session, the team decided to send Jani out on the Bridgestone primary (black) tires, but with so little time remaining it was impossible for the tires to get up to temperature and therefore up to speed. Like his teammate, Jani was also set back one spot when Wilson took his spot on the front row.

Jani has now qualified in the top-10 a total of 10 times in 12 attempts. Today's fourth place starting spot ties his previous season high achieved in Houston. The 23-year-old native of Jens, Switzerland has finished in the top-10 nine times in the first 11 races of the season and is on a streak of seven consecutive top-10 finishes, including three podium performances, season high seconds at Toronto and San Jose, where he led his first Champ Car laps, as well as a third in Cleveland. The three podium finishes establish a team record for most by an individual driver in a season and ties the record for the most by the team in a season. Jani is seventh in the championship standings, third in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year race, with 182 points. He is 14 points out of fifth and 39 out of third in the championship race.

"This morning was really a good session for the Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing team," Jani said. "We were the quickest car on the track and I was quite happy with that. This afternoon...on the first set of Bridgestone tires the car was good, but I felt I had some improvement in me. But, I couldn't quite get the lap together during the first stint because of traffic. On the second stint I had a really good lap going and again I caught some traffic, but still I put quite a good lap together, which put me third for the session and fourth on the grid. The biggest thing for me is that we did not improve on new tires as much as we should have, so I think we still have some more speed in the car for the race. Overall, it was a good day, not great, but a good day."

This weekend's race is the second of two consecutive events the Champ Car World Series is contesting in Europe this year. The two European races comprise the Phanos Resorts Champ Car European Cup, which will be awarded to the team that scores the most combined points at both events. PKV Racing is currently sixth in the Cup standings.

The Bavarian Champ Car Grand Prix, August 30 to September 2, on the TT Circuit Assen permanent road course in Assen, Holland is Round #12 of the 2007 Champ Car World Series season. It will be televised same day tape delayed on ESPN Classic at 1:30 p.m. (ET).

-credit: pkvracing.com

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Jimmy Vasser , Neel Jani , Tristan Gommendy , Cristiano da Matta