CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland: Team Australia Friday report

TEAM AUSTRALIA STAGE FIGHTBACK IN CLEVELAND Alex Tagliani and Team Australia pulled out a strong fightback today as the Aussie Vineyards squad made its debut on the US East coast in Cleveland, Ohio at the latest round of the Champ Car World ...

TEAM AUSTRALIA STAGE FIGHTBACK IN CLEVELAND

Alex Tagliani and Team Australia pulled out a strong fightback today as the Aussie Vineyards squad made its debut on the US East coast in Cleveland, Ohio at the latest round of the Champ Car World Series.

Tagliani was only 14th fastest in the opening practice session, but the Team Australia crew made major changes and suspension adjustments between the sessions.

The changes made a dramatic impact, allowing Tagliani to improve to qualify 5th fastest with a lap of 58.705 seconds. A stray tire knocked from a tire barrier and a spin by Justin Wilson blunted Tagliani's pole attack -- the Canadian fell only 0.269 of a second short behind pole sitter Cristiano Da Matta.

Australian rookie Marcus Marshall made his Cleveland debut today, running his first laps at the Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport circuit.

The Cleveland track actually uses airport runways with the city skyline providing a picturesque backdrop. Marshall improved during the day, dropping his time from 1:03.775 in the opening session to 1:01.135 in qualifying.

WHAT IS AUSSIE VINEYARDS/TEAM AUSTRALIA? Australia will again play host to the Champ Car World Series on the streets of Surfers Paradise for the Lexmark Indy 300 from October 20-23. This year will be the first year in the event's history that a full-time Australian team will compete for glory on home soil.

Team Australia is a new Champ Car entry created for 2005 by veteran team owner Derrick Walker and Australian businessmen Craig Gore and John Fish.

The team will contest the championship with major sponsorship from Aussie Vineyards, a new Queensland company established by Gore and Fish to export Australian wine into the US market.

The pair is looking to use the program as a tool for other Australian businesses also wishing to market their products and services into the US.

ALEX TAGLIANI -- 5th -- 58.705

"I am pretty happy with the result and very proud of the team because they worked very hard between the sessions because the car was very loose in the morning and not very good over the bumps.

"The boys virtually dismantled the entire car and rebuilt it between the sessions and to have a team that can do that so quickly is a major bonus.

"In the end I am a little bit disappointed because I think we had a car to fight for the top three today but there was a tire in the middle of the chicane which slowed me down on the first run and a car spun when I was out on the red 'option' tire.

"We could have had a shot at the pole if it wasn't for that, but we will see how things go tomorrow."

MARCUS MARSHALL -- 18th -- 1:01.135

"The track is certainly different, it is like taking a bunch of cones out on Coolangatta airport back home and putting on a race.

"But is works out quite well. Lots of fast corners which I really like and it is a very rewarding place to drive.

"We are still making some progress on trying to improve the car and I still have a few things to try to find some more speed."

DERRICK WALKER -- CO-OWNER, TEAM AUSTRALIA

"We pulled off a major recovery today because we were certainly not at our best in the morning session.

"The changes we made were certainly a move in the right direction and we now just have to smooth it out a little more.

"Alex believes he may have left a little bit on the table out there so hopefully he can move forward tomorrow.

"We also have to do some full tank runs to work on our race set-up for Sunday."

CRAIG GORE -- CO-OWNER, TEAM AUSTRALIA

"It was another great effort from Alex today to qualify in the top five. He is proving to be very consistent. For Marcus this track is certainly a unique challenge unlike anything else in the world.

"He will be comparing data with Alex overnight to try and find some more speed tomorrow.

"Qualifying in the top five today is also a great start for the first run for Team Australia on the east coast of the US. This is a key potential market for Aussie Vineyards and it is important for us to generate strong brand exposure here."

-team aus-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Tagliani , Marcus Marshall