RED BULL GULFSTREAM PKV RACING'S NEEL JANI FINISHES NINTH AT REXALL GRAND PRIX OF EDMONTON MARIO DOMINGUEZ SUBSITUTING FOR INJURED TRISTAN GOMMENDY HAS EXHAUT PROBLEM EDMONTON, ALBERTA, CANADA -- Round ...
RED BULL GULFSTREAM PKV RACING'S NEEL JANI FINISHES NINTH AT REXALL GRAND PRIX OF EDMONTON
MARIO DOMINGUEZ SUBSITUTING FOR INJURED TRISTAN GOMMENDY HAS EXHAUT PROBLEM
EDMONTON, ALBERTA, CANADA -- Round #8 -- 2007 Champ Car World Series
Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing driver Neel Jani finished ninth today in the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton on the 1.973-mile, 14-turn City Centre Airport temporary circuit in Edmonton, Ontario, Canada. PKV Racing's second driver, Mario Dominguez, who was substituting for the injured Tristan Gommendy, placed 17th.
Jani, in the #21 Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone machine, went from running with the leaders to the back of the pack following a stall in the pit, but with the help of a solid pit call, great work by his crew and a solid driving performance managed to fight his way back into the top-10 and earn valuable championship points. Dominguez, behind the wheel of the #22 Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone car, had worked his way up to 13th after starting last when he was felled by an exhaust problem.
Jani, who started fifth, had another tremendous start. In what is rapidly becoming his signature move from the new standing start procedure, he pulled out of line and attacked the cars in front picking up two places on the first lap. He lost one spot a lap later, but was running in a solid fourth, saving fuel and keeping pace with the leaders. However, during his first pit stop the engine stalled and by the time he rejoined the competition he was in last place. Jani started slowly picking off back markers, but when he got stuck in 14th place behind some slower traffic PKV Racing's General Manager Mark Johnson decided to pit the Red Bull entry a little early. The call proved to be an excellent one as Jani took advantage of an open track. By the time the second round of spots was completed Jani had found himself back in the top-10 at number 10. Now within striking distance of a top-five finish Jani continued to press the attack. Passing cars and fighting for position he fought his way up to seventh place, but having used all his push to pass to climb back into contention he was unable to defend his position during the closing laps of the race and therefore fell back two spots.
"I had a very good start to the race in the Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing car," Jani said. "I was running third then (Justin) Wilson got past me. Then I was just keeping pace and saving fuel behind the leaders waiting for the first pit stop. But, that is where we lost the race because the engine died on me just while sitting there. I don't know if the clutch just slipped or what happened, so I dropped to last. To make it worse there were really no yellows from then on. Because of that I had to make up position under the green and that was very tough. The team made a good call bringing me in early on my second pit stop and we picked up some places. The crew did a great job in the pits and that helped a lot and I caught some guys and overtook them. So we moved back into the top-10. Unfortunately, it was this race, when we needed some yellow that we didn't get them, so I couldn't make up any more positions. I think without the problem on the pit stop we could have finished maybe third, but certainly fourth or fifth."
Jani, a Champ Car rookie, but a veteran of European open wheel racing, has finished in the top-10 six times in the first eight races with two podiums, a season high second in Toronto and third in Cleveland. The 23-year-old native of Jens, Switzerland, is seventh in the championship standings and third in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year race, with 129 points, and just 14 points out of fifth place.
Dominguez, who took over for Gommendy, after the Frenchman suffered an edema of two thoracic vertebra during a crash on Friday and was scratched from the race, started last , 17th, because he did not qualify. The 31-year-old Champ Car veteran from Mexico City, Mexico, who practiced with the team for the first time during this morning's half hour warm-up, made his first standing start of the season and picked up one place. He moved up another spot when Ryan Dalziel spun and was just settling into a good pace when a loud, rumbling noise began to emanate from his engine. The problem continued to deteriorate and eventually smoke began to pour out of the rear of the car. At that point the team told Dominguez to pull over to a "safe haven."
Dominguez was making his third start in Edmonton and fourth of the 2007 season. He has now finished in the top-10 twice in Edmonton (2005, starting eighth and finished fifth' 2006, 10th and eighth). Dominguez has two top-10 showings in his four starts this year with a best finish of sixth in Houston while competing with Forsythe Championship Racing. He is 17th in the standings with 40 points.
Commenting on today's race Dominguez said, "I honestly don't know what went wrong. Something blew up, but it definitely wasn't the engine, because the car was still working fine. However, at that point it was better to park it because you don't want to ruin anyone's race. It is really too bad because the Pay By Touch MegaSpirea car was running well. I was doing my best to do a good job for the PKV Racing team--for Kevin Kalkhoven, Jimmy Vasser, Mark Johnson and all the crew. They really worked hard. This is not the way I wanted to get a ride, but I got to race and it was a good opportunity for me. I did the best I could considering I didn't get in the car until this morning. As far as the future is concerned, hopefully Tristan will be okay and can race next weekend in San Jose, but if he can't I hope PKV Racing will consider me again to drive the car."
PKV Racing made its fifth and sixth starts while contesting its third race in Edmonton. The team has qualified in the top-10 four times in five attempts (Gommendy did not qualify) with a best starting position of fifth by Jani this year, Cristiano da Matta at the inaugural event in 2005 and Oriol Servia last year. They now have two top-10 finishes a fourth place showing last year by Servia and Jani ninth today.
Today's race concluded the Canadian Triple Crown, which was won by Team Australia. It also marked the halfway point of the 2007 Champ Car World Series season and is the fourth of a grueling five races in a six week segment that has begun to define and separate the contenders from the rest of the field in the championship race.
Next up for PKV Racing is the San Jose Grand Prix at Redback Raceway, July 27-29, on the temporary street circuit in downtown San Jose, California. The San Jose Grand Prix, Round #9 of the 2007 Champ Car World Series season, will be televised live on ESPN2 at 6:00 p.m. (ET).
Tristan Gommendy's Injury:
Gommendy, #22 Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone car, who crashed during Friday's provisional qualifying, was taken out of the car just prior to final qualifying on Saturday for additional tests, which revealed an edema of two thoracic vertebra which implies subtle bone injury. As a result he was scratched from today's race. Gommendy will fly to Indianapolis, Indiana tomorrow where he will be reevaluated by Dr. Trammel.