CHAMPCAR/CART: Houston: Team Australia preview

POWER AIMS TO KEEP PRE-SEASON GOAL IN HOUSTON Team Australia's Will Power held an ambitious goal heading into the start of the 2007 Champ Car World Series and the Australian driver is on track to succeed in his aim heading into the Champ Car...

POWER AIMS TO KEEP PRE-SEASON GOAL IN HOUSTON

Team Australia's Will Power held an ambitious goal heading into the start of the 2007 Champ Car World Series and the Australian driver is on track to succeed in his aim heading into the Champ Car Grand Prix of Houston in Texas this weekend.

The 2006 Champ Car Rookie of the Year set his sights on holding the championship lead after the hectic opening to the season, where the first three races are all held in successive weeks and all are on demanding street circuits.

Power holds a 15-point championship lead over series veteran Alex Tagliani as teams prepare to tackle the Reliant Park street course this weekend, with three-time and defending Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais a further four points behind.

Power and the Aussie Vineyards-backed team are looking for their fourth-successive podium result this weekend, with a third place finish in the 2006 season finale in Mexico City, a debut win in the opening round of the year in Las Vegas and third last weekend in Long Beach, California.

The 26-year-old form Toowoomba, Queensland is in the form of his life, with three podiums and two pole positions from his last four races. Last year Power finished seventh in Houston in only his fourth Champ Car race and 12 months on his goals have risen substantially.

Simon Pagenaud is looking to translate his impressive car speed into a strong finish and solid haul of points in Houston, after qualifying in the top five for each of the opening two races of the season only to have luck go against him in the races.

Pagenaud was second in Houston in last year's Champ Car Atlantic Championship, which the Frenchman went on to win over rival Graham Rahal, who like Pagenaud, has moved up to Champ Car this season.

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY --

Will Power -- #5 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01

"It's great heading into Houston, going to another circuit that I'm familiar with," said Power.

"I really enjoyed the track a lot, but this year I think the race will be even more interesting, because the organisers have made some changes. The circuit should flow a lot better and we have a car that is good for that type of track.

"The team is headed in the right direction and is working very hard. Our plan for the weekend is to have another positive weekend, a good result and get a solid points lead so we can relax a little on our break and get some more good development done on the car."

Simon Pagenaud -- #15 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01

"I'm very much looking forward to coming back to Houston," said Pagenaud.

"Reliant Stadium is a great race circuit with an interesting and exciting atmosphere. Team Australia has given me a really fast car and now we just need to finish the race, get points and put everything together during the race.

"We've had a fast car, now we just have to put it together and I hope to bring the team a good result this weekend."

Derrick Walker -- Team Australia Co-Owner

"There has been a lot of work done with the roads around the Reliant Stadium, which is good because it will improve the racing," said Walker.

"Personally, I preferred the night race, but this year we are running the race in the daytime. As far as the team is concerned it really doesn't make that much difference, but it should be a good race based on the detailed changes that they have made to the race track. I think it will be a better event.

"Our drivers will again adapt very quickly. The track itself is not very complicated. It's a little more technically challenging in a different way than what we have raced so far this year.

"I think this will be another closely fought street race, just like the two events so far this year. I'm really looking forward to it. I think our cars should fair well this weekend."

Craig Gore -- Team Australia Co-Owner

"Team Australia has been working very hard these past few weeks," said Gore.

"Three straight races is a tough way to start the season but Will has done a remarkable job and made all the crew's hard work worthwhile.

"Will has big goals this season and he has shown in the first two races of the season that he is a genuine title contender. He had a slight problem on a restart in Long Beach that prevented him from going for the win so this weekend I'm sure he will be keen to get back on the top step of the podium.

"Simon has been very impressive in the first two races. To qualify in the top five for his first two Champ Car races is an outstanding effort.

"This weekend is all about Simon finishing the race to get him some points on the board. We all know that with the speed he has shown so far, if he gets to the finish it will more than likely be in the front part of the field."

-credit: ta

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Tagliani , Graham Rahal , Sébastien Bourdais , Will Power , Simon Pagenaud