A Disappointing Qualifying Session Leaves Rocketsports' Tagliani 12th on the Grid for Inaugural Holland Champ Car Race Weather was not a factor in Assen, The Netherlands today, but it was a continued struggle with understeer that would...
A Disappointing Qualifying Session Leaves Rocketsports' Tagliani 12th on the Grid for Inaugural Holland Champ Car Race
Weather was not a factor in Assen, The Netherlands today, but it was a continued struggle with understeer that would ultimately hurt Rocketsports Racing's driver Alex Tagliani as he participated in the final round of qualifying for Sunday's Bavaria Beer Champ Car Grand Prix of Holland.
Once the team arrived to the track, a heavy rain began. However, by the time the green flag waved starting the morning practice session, the sun had come out in full force and the temperature began to warm up. There was a little more rain that fell proceeding the practice session, but it was nothing but sunny skies as the 17-car field hit the 2.83-mile TT Circuit Assen this afternoon for the final round of qualifying.
The team had developed some ideas last night in terms of changes to make the #8 Rocketsports car quicker and they tried them out this morning during the practice session. Although he finished the session 14th on the charts, it did not reflect the cars ability to be quick as the team opted not to put on a new set of Bridgestone Potenza tires at the end of the session when most teams did. The practice session was a success, as Tagliani felt more comfortable with the car and had a better feeling of what it needed to be quicker for the next on-track session.
This afternoon just did not turn out the way Tagliani and the team was hoping for. Continuing to struggle with understeer on the #8 Rocketsports car, the team just could not get the issue resolved. With all the changes they have been making, nothing seemed to help the French-Canadian out on track. Tagliani went out for his first stint of final qualifying on the softer Bridgestone Potenza Red tires. He was pounding away on track, but after only three laps of a planned six-lap run a red flag came out sending Tagliani into the pits. When the track went green again, he headed back out with a clear track. He ended his first run after completing seven laps and recording a time of 1:21.935 (127.455 mph/205.119 kmh), which had him P10 on the charts.
Going back out for his second, and final, run of the day, Tagliani put on a fresh set of the Bridgestone Potenza Red tires and hoped to find a little more speed to move him up the grid. He was able to complete five more laps, none of which saw him better his previous time recorded on his seventh qualifying lap. That time put him 12th on the grid for Sunday's inaugural Holland race.
This is only the third time that the eight-year Champ Car veteran will be starting outside of the top ten this season. Tagliani will attempt to make his 129th Champ Car start tomorrow from the outside of Row 6 when he lines up for the ninth Champ Car standing start this season.
The team will continue to try to find something that will work better for Tagliani as they prepare for the morning warm-up session. Then the team will prepare for the main event, which will see the Champ Cars grid at 12:15 p.m. CET (Central European Time). The Bavaria Beer Champ Car Grand Prix of Holland will take the green flag on Sunday, September 2, at 1:00 p.m. CET. The race can be seen live in the United States on ESPN Classic with coverage from Holland beginning at 7:00 a.m. ET. There will be a replay of the race on Friday, September 7 at 1:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2.
Quote Alex Tagliani #8 Rocketsports Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone "We wish we could have done better in terms of our grid position, but I think after two days we are starting to get a direction for what the #8 Rocketsports car needs and wants. It is not the best car that we have had so far, but you never know what can happen during the race. Tomorrow we are going to try something different and see if that will help us find a little more speed and better handling. With the way these races go and the strategy we develop, we can probably have a good race and aim for a good top five finish."