CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland: PKV Racing race report

PKV RACING'S ORIOL SERVIA EARNS FIRST PODIUM OF SEASON AT CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF CLEVELAND Both Cars Finish In Top-10 For Second Time This Season CLEVELAND, OHIO -- SUNDAY, JUNE 25, 2006 -- Round ...

PKV RACING'S ORIOL SERVIA EARNS FIRST PODIUM OF SEASON AT CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF CLEVELAND

Both Cars Finish In Top-10 For Second Time This Season

CLEVELAND, OHIO -- SUNDAY, JUNE 25, 2006 -- Round #6 -- 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- Oriol Servia scored PKV Racing's first podium finish of the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season with a third place performance at the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Ohio. Teammate Katherine Legge placed eighth.

Servia, behind the wheel of the #6 Gulfsteam -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine, drove a strong, error free race to earn his fourth consecutive top-10 finish. Meanwhile, Legge, who was behind the wheel of the #20 Bell Micro -- PKV Racing Ford Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone car, recovered from a spin in the early stages of the race and fought her way to her third top-10 finish of the season making it the second time this season that PKV Racing has placed both cars in the top-10 in a race. The third and eighth place showings essentially equaled the fifth (Servia) and six (Legge) place finishes earlier this year in Milwaukee, but with the podium it makes it the best performance of the season by the team.

Servia, who started a season high fourth, came out of the melee that occurred on the exit of Turn #1 following the start of the race completely unscathed after choosing an outside line. Running in second he passed A. J. Allmendinger in Turn #3 to move into first place for the first time this season. At that point race officials threw the first of a record nine yellow flags to attend to Sebastien Bourdais, who was run over and launched into the infield by Paul Tracy, as well as clear the track of damaged cars and debris. Servia held the lead for the next 23 laps, 12 of which were under yellow. The Gulfstream -- PKV Racing team pitted for the first time on lap 24 when the pits were opened following the second yellow flag of the race. Servia rejoined the contest in fifth because several cars stayed out having pitted out of sequence due to the earlier carnage. He remained fifth until lap 39 when the third yellow flew. Even though Servia had enough fuel to go at least another 10 laps the team decided to come in under the yellow because, he was in his fuel window and the they did not want to risk pitting on a green lap and loose significant track position. Again, several cars were out of sequence while other choose not to pit dropping Servia to eighth place, however by lap 56 he was back up to fifth. Servia dropped to ninth after his third stop on lap 64, but passed Will Power for eighth and after everyone else cycled through the pits, he was back in fifth. On lap 78 Justin Wilson and Nelson Philippe dropped out of the races in separate incidents moving Servia briefly into third. With fuel becoming an issue and a radio problem limiting the team's ability to communicate with the car, team co-owner Jimmy Vasser and Mark Johnson, who again joined PKV Racing for the third time as a race strategist, made the decision to pit Servia for a splash of fuel. Servia came in on lap 80, again during a yellow, rejoined the race in fifth and appeared to be on his way to his second fifth place showing of the year, when suddenly, on the white flag lap Dan Clark and Mario Domingques became entangled knocking both cars out of the race and putting Servia on the podium.

"The start of the race could not have worked out better for me," Servia began. "I decided to stay to the outside and everyone else went to the inside, so I was able to break away. Then I caught A. J. (Allmendinger) in Turn #3 and passed him for the lead. The Gulfstream -- PKV Racing car felt awesome from the start. I was pulling away from the field and still able to save fuel. At that point things were looking bright and I was starting to think about a win. Then the yellows starting coming and every time they worked against us. Not just one time, but every yellow that came out came at the wrong time for us. Finally, we got a bonus on the last lap and got the podium we really deserved," he explained. "The whole PKV Racing team worked very hard starting last weekend in Portland and it is great for the hard work to pay off with a finish like we had today--. and what better place than an airport to get my first podium for Gulfstream."

Servia, who equaled his best performance at Cleveland, was making his sixth start on the 2.106-mile, 10-turn Burke Lakefront Airport temporary street circuit. His fourth place starting position tied his previous best qualifying effort first established in 2003. Servia has now qualified in the top-10 three times in six attempts in Cleveland. However, it has been in the races that Servia has really shined on the airport runway. In six events he has now finished in the top-six four times, all in the last four years, with two podiums. He finished sixth in 2003, followed up with a fourth in 2004, reached the podium with a third place finish last year and equaled his best effort by finish third again this year.

Servia, who made his sixth start for PKV Racing, has qualified in the top-10 in five of the six races this year. In addition to the season high fourth place starting stop in Cleveland he has qualified seventh twice (Milwaukee and Monterrey, Mexico) and eighth twice (Long Beach and Houston). Servia has finished in the top-10 in four of the six events this year (having been an innocent victim in the other two). He is currently working a streak of four consecutive top-10 finishes having placed eighth in Monterrey, fifth in Milwaukee and 10th in Portland to go with today season-high third place showing. After starting the season last in the points after a first lap incident at Long Beach knocked him out of the race, Servia has steadily climbed in the standings and is now ninth in the Championship race with 85 points.

Servia, who is in his seventh Champ Car season, made his 104th career Champ Car start today. He has earned 55 top-ten finishes including 27 top-five showings, 13 podium performances and one victory (Montreal 2005). The resident of Miami, Florida, who has finished in the top-10 in the standings the last three years, is coming off his best Champ Car season placing second last year.

Legge, who with the help of her Bell Micro -- PKV Racing crew, overcame an incident in practice on Saturday to qualify a career road/street circuit high 14th, also got off to a fantastic start. While Servia was already up front and pretty much had smooth sailing on the opening lap, all the first lap action took place in front of or around Legge, who skillfully navigated her way through the morass and emerged in seventh place. However, on lap 14, while battling for position she spun the car cutting a tire and had to pit. While the stop was made inside her fuel window, it unfortunately was made under the green flag, which when combined with the spin put Legge a lap down. Never the less, Legge, demonstrating her trademark determination, continued to battle and press the cars ahead of her and slowly, but surely her efforts began to pay off. She ran in 13th position though her second stop on lap 39 and well into her third stint. However toward the end of the third stint Legge moved into 11th just prior to her third and final stop on lap 72. She was up to ninth following the Wilson and Philippe incidents then took over eighth with about ten laps to go when Will Power exited the race. Had the race gone one more lap, Legge would have finished fifth.

"I am disappointed with the way the race went today because I definitely though the Bell Micro -- PKV Racing car should have finished in the top-five," Legge said. "It was one of those races where everything that went wrong seemed to happen at once. This just makes me more determined to come back next time and have the type of performance I expect of myself," she explained. "We did finish in the top-10 today and we are still second in the rookie of the year race, so I feel good about that, but I am not pleased because we should be, and would be, in first if things had gone a little different in this race. I am just frustrated because we had the speed and the crew is doing such a great job, but something always seems to happen. I feel if we keep working hard, one of these days it is all coming together and it will happen sooner than later," Legge concluded.

Legge made her first Champ Car start in Cleveland and the sixth of her career today. She raced twice at Burke Lakefront Airport in 2005 while competing in the Atlantic Championship Series starting fifth and finishing 16th in the first race and starting fourth and finishing fifth in the second.

Legge has now qualified in the top-10 once, a career high eighth on the oval in Milwaukee in six attempts. Her 14th place starting position in Cleveland was the best in five attempts on a road/street circuit (she has qualified 15th twice, Houston and Portland; and 17th twice, Long Beach and Monterrey, Mexico). Despite the qualifying woes the 25-year-old native of Great Britain has found some success in the races. She has now finished in the top-10 three times in the six races this year, placing a season, and career, high sixth at Milwaukee and eighth in her Champ Car debut at Long Beach as well as here in Cleveland. In Houston, she was headed for another top-10 finish, when she was hit by another competitor and eventually placed 14th. Legge placed 14th in Monterrey after a questionable penalty was accessed for blocking while she was running 13th and 13th last weekend in Portland. She is currently 13th in the championship standings with 72 points. The resident of Indianapolis, Indiana remains second in the Champ Car rookie points, but now trails Dan Clarke by three points, 75-72.

Legge, who became the first female to start a Champ Car/CART race since Lyn St. James at

Michigan in 1995, when she made her Champ Car debut at Long Beach, has established a number of Series records already this season. In Milwaukee, she became the first female to lead a race when she held the top spot for 12 laps in her oval debut. In addition, her sixth place finish at Milwaukee set a new Series high for a female (her eighth place showings in Long Beach and Cleveland give her the two best finishes) surpassing a ninth place finish by Janet Guthrie at the 1978 Indianapolis 500. Legge won three races and finished third last year in her rookie season in the Atlantic Championship Series. Her win in her debut Atlantic event at Long Beach made her the first woman to win a major open-wheel race in North America.

PKV Racing made its sixth and seventh starts in four racings at Cleveland. The team has now qualified in the top-10 four times with a best starting position of second by Cristiano da Matta last year. They have finished in the top-10 five times with Servia podium performance surpassing Jimmy Vasser's fifth place finish in 2004 for team high.

Next up for PKV Racing is the Molson Grand Prix of Toronto, Round #6 of the 2006 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, July 7-9, on the temporary street circuit in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The race will be broadcast live on CBS at 12:30 p.m. (ET).

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Jimmy Vasser , Paul Tracy , Lyn St. James , Sébastien Bourdais , Katherine Legge , Janet Guthrie , Nelson Philippe , Will Power , Cristiano da Matta , Mario D