CHAMPCAR/CART: Las Vegas: Minardi Team USA race report

STRAIGHT FLUSH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, April 8, 2007 -- In gambling parlance, today's result for Minardi Team USA wasn't a Royal Flush, but it was the next best thing. Robert Doornbos took a beautifully judged second place for Minardi Team USA on his...

STRAIGHT FLUSH

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, April 8, 2007 -- In gambling parlance, today's result for Minardi Team USA wasn't a Royal Flush, but it was the next best thing. Robert Doornbos took a beautifully judged second place for Minardi Team USA on his debut in the Champ Car World Series -- the first time a rookie has been on the podium in his first race since Nigel Mansell won the season-opening Australian race in 1993. The team's race plan revolved around fuel strategy, both Doornbos and team mate, Dan Clarke, planning on two stops for fuel and tires, with a lot of careful driving in each of the three stints to stretch the methanol supply to the maximum. The strategy certainly worked, as Doornbos climbed steadily through the field to claim second place. Clarke made a storming start, climbing from twelfth place to eighth on the opening lap and soon moved up to sixth, immediately behind his team mate. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to capitalize on the situation, as his race ended on lap 14 in the tire barriers at Turn 3.

Robert Doornbos (No 14) 2nd 1 min 20.704 secs/108.842mph

"I couldn't have dreamed of a better start to the season. I must thank everyone on the team, all the boys -- they did a marvelous job. I needed this today. It's been a long time coming. The rolling start caught me out a bit, and I lost a couple of positions as a result. I really wanted to finish the race today, so I wasn't overly aggressive going into turn one on the first lap. It was a new thing for me today, because the race strategy was all about saving fuel. That's always a difficult concept for a race driver. This is a great debut for both myself and the team, and gives us extra confidence going into the new season. I had a lot of fun, and can't wait to get to Long Beach."

Dan Clarke (No 4) DNF 1 min 22.498 secs/106.475mph

"Congratulations to Robert and Minardi Team USA on a fantastic start to the season! No more mistakes from me now. We just need to capitalize on what we've learned this weekend and I think we've done well to catch up, with such little running before today. It was frustrating to watch the race after my retirement, as I know we had the car to match the rest of them and I reckon I could have given Robert a run for his money too. So it's off to Long Beach now, where we'll just keep pushing on."

Paul Stoddart, Team Co-owner

"To be honest, I couldn't be happier today. The result speaks for itself -- a fantastic drive by Robert, a fantastic strategy from the team, and a totally professional job by the entire Minardi Team USA crew, both here and back at the factory. Well done to everybody. As for Dan, he was indeed speedy when he made a flying start and gained four places on the first lap. Sadly, though, it wasn't to be his day today, but I have absolutely doubt that will come."

Keith Wiggins, Team Co-owner

"Obviously, I am very happy for the team. With lots of recent changes, this result shows once again that we continue to be competitive, and that everyone has done a really good job. Robert is a very impressive driver and showed considerable skill in this, his first Champ Car race. He worked well with his crew and engineers and deserved this result. Clearly, Dan also had a strong pace in the race and I am sure that things will come right for him in the next race -- now that he has some experience in the new car."

-credit: mtusa

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Paul Stoddart , Robert Doornbos , Dan Clarke