CRASHES SPOIL PKV RACING'S INAUGURAL HOUSTON GRAND PRIX SERVIA FINISHES 12TH, LEGGE 14TH HOUSTON, TX -- SATURDAY, MAY 13, 2006 -- Round ...
CRASHES SPOIL PKV RACING'S INAUGURAL HOUSTON GRAND PRIX
SERVIA FINISHES 12TH, LEGGE 14TH
HOUSTON, TX -- SATURDAY, MAY 13, 2006 -- Round #2 -- 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing's had its inaugural Houston Grand Prix spoiled in separate incidents tonight in Houston, Texas.
Oiol Servia in the #6 Gulfsteam -- PKV Racing Ford- Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone car battled back from an early incident that damage his front wing and was running in fifth place when on lap 88 of the 100 scheduled he came in contact with Alex Tagliani while fighting for fourth place. Servia's car was damaged beyond repair ending his race in 12th place. Legge, behind the wheel of the #20 Bell Micro -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone entry was running in 13th position when on lap 42 Dan Clark, who was 10 laps down, hit her sending the Bell Micro machine into the tires and knocking off the rear wing. Legge was restarted and returned to the pits where her crew sprang into action repairing the damage. She return to the contest 15 laps down and in 15th place but showed her well known determination continuing to fight to the end and finishing 14th.
Servia, who made his 100th career Champ Car start this evening, began the race full of confidence after turning the third fastest lap in the warm-up session prior to the race. The 31-year-old native of Catalonia, Spain, who qualified eighth for the second time in as many races, had his right front wing damaged in a first lap incident. Not wanting to lose any more positions than necessary the team decided to leave Servia on the track until they could pit him on a yellow flag, which occurred on lap 27. The extra time in the pits replacing the front wing cost Servia three positions, but with the car now 100% the speed he had demonstrated for much of the weekend resurfaced (he had the second fastest lap of the race) and Servia began to work his way back through the field. Passing several cars and getting some breaks as other drivers fell out of the race, Servia found himself in fifth place on lap 70. A yellow flag on lap 71 closed up the field. When race when green six laps later, Servia immediately began stalking Tagliani, who was running in fourth. On lap 88 he drew along side Tagliani, who appeared to be experiencing a problem after slowing on the front straightaway. As Servia come up the inside the two cars entered Turn #1. Tagliani then turned in and made contact with Servia knocking him into the wall and damaging the car beyond repair.
"Honestly, I wasn't even thinking of passing Tagliani on that lap," Servia began. "But in the middle of the straightaway he let off the throttle and slowed down. I caught him and then he got back on the throttle. At that point I was beside him and I thought he was having a problem. Then he turned in and hit me," he explained. "It's really a shame. The Gulfstream -- PKV Racing car was very good, especially at the end of that stint. I knew we had fourth place for sure and I was looking for a podium finish," Servia noted. "I really want to thank the whole PKV Racing team. The engineers did a fantastic job setting up the car. It was 10,000 times better than it has been and the crew did a fantastic job preparing the car and in the pits. I am just disappointed because we lost a opportunity to get a lot of points and get into the championship race. The good thing is it is still early, so there is no reason to panic. We just have to keep working hard and our time will come," he concluded.
Seriva was making his second start for PKV Racing and first on the 1.7-mile, 10-turn MSR Houston temporary street circuit. He has not finished either of the two races this year. Along with tonight's incident he was the innocent victim of a first lap crash at the season opener in Long Beach on April 9 and placed 18th.
This was Servia's third race in Houston. He ran on the old Houston street circuit in 2000 and 2001 (earning a best starting position of 15th and a best finishing position of in ninth both in 2000). It was his fourth start in a night race. In addition to this evening's event he ran at night on the Milwaukee Mile oval in 2003 (started seventh and finished second) and 2004 (11th and seventh) and Cleveland airport street circuit in 2003 (fourth and sixth).
In 100 Champ Car starts, Servia, who is in his seventh Champ Car season, has now earned 51 top-ten finishes including 25 top-five showings, 12 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 after placing second last year. After starting the 2005 season with Dale Coyne Racing, he replaced an injured Bruno Junqueira at Newman/Haas Racing where he made 11 starts earning seven podiums including the win in Montreal, his first career Champ Car victory.
Legge, had a bit of a scare in the warm-up when she brushed the wall on the first lap. Although the car was not damaged the Bell Micro -- PKV Racing crew decided to replace the front left suspension as a precaution. In the race, Legge, who qualified a season high 15th, was on the move almost from the opening lap although she was losing ground to the leaders. When the yellow flag flew on Lap 27 she was running in 12th place, but was a lap down to the lead cars. Using the same strategy that they employed in Long Beach, Legge stayed out until most of the field had pitted, at which point the pace car waved her around as it pickup the lead car thus giving Legge her lap back. She pitted one lap later and after a superb stop by her crew rejoined the race still in 12th place, but back on the lead lap. Legge subsequently lost one place, but was still in a battle for a top-10 finish when she attempted to go around Clark, who was well out of the race and should have let her go by.
"What a day, what a day," Legge said obviously frustrated. "Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. They say bad things happen in three's and they were certainly right today. First, I had a knee pad get loose in the cockpit. Then, I had an electrical problem with the car and finally I got taken out of the race," she explained. "I really have to thank the Bell Micro -- PKV Racing crew. They did a fantastic job getting the car repaired. They are really a great bunch of guys and I appreciate their hard work and support. Obviously, I am very disappointed because we had a good car for this race and were moving up the field. The good thing is we made a lot of progress this weekend and I am looking forward to continuing to making even more next weekend in Monterrey."
Legge, who is in her first Champ Car season was competing in second race, first in Houston and first at night. She started 17th and finished eighth in her Champ Car debut at the Long Beach Grand Prix. She is currently in third place in the Champ Car rookie points race with 22 (Will Power -30 and Jan Heyland -- 26). Legge's start in Long Beach was the first by a female in a Champ Car/CART race since Lyn St. James at Michigan in 1995, while her eighth place finish established a record for highest finish by a female in Series history surpassing a ninth place showing by Janet Guthrie at the 1978 Indianapolis 500. (Note: The Champ Car World Series record book includes USAC Champ Car events back to 1909).
Legge, who is considered a rising star in the Champ Car World Series, burst on the open-wheel racing scene last year when she captured three races in route to a third-place showing during her rookie season in the Atlantic Championship Series. She won her debut event in the Atlantic's taking the victory in Long Beach, which made her the first woman to win a major open-wheel race in North
America. The win in Long Beach earned her Southern California's Top 2005 Racing Moment of the Year Award. Legge also won the 2005 Atlantic Championship Series BBS Rising Star Award and was named the winner of RACER magazine's Most Promising Road Racer Award. In the off-season, Legge tested with Formula 1's Minardi Team, A1 Grand Prix's Great Britain Team and Champ Car's Rocketsports Racing. She subsequently tested twice with PKV Racing before signing on February 14th.
PKV Racing co-owner/driver Jimmy Vasser , who earlier this year announced he would compete at Long Beach and selected other races during the 2006 season, was on the sidelines for the Houston Grand Prix in his capacity as co-owner. This brings to an end his consecutive start streak at 211, which is a Series record. The 40-year-old native of California, who is technically in his 15th Champ Car season, has made 232nd career starts scoring 132 top-10 finishes, including 66 top-five showings, 33 podium performances and 10 wins. He also has nine poles, led 988 laps and earned $12,076,744. Vasser, who has finished 145 of his last 188 races (dating to Milwaukee in 1995) has been a perennial championship contender finishing in the top-10 in the standings nine times including nine of the last 11 years. His last start occurred at the season opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 9. After starting 12th, he succumbed to an engine problem and finished 14th in what may be his last Long Beach Grand Prix and, perhaps, his last Champ Car race.
PKV Racing made its first start on the streets of Houston, Texas. The team did not compete on the former street circuit.
Next up for PKV Racing is the Tecate Grand Prix of Monterrey presented by Roshfrans, May 19-21 at Fundidora Park in Monterrrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico round #3 of the 2006 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. The race will be broadcast live on Speed at 4:00 p.m. (ET).