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

TWO IN THE TOP 10 LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, April 6, 2007 -- Minardi Team USA launched its Champ Car program in some style today, with drivers Robert Doornbos and Dan Clarke both posting times in the top 10. The morning session saw...

TWO IN THE TOP 10

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, April 6, 2007 -- Minardi Team USA launched its Champ Car program in some style today, with drivers Robert Doornbos and Dan Clarke both posting times in the top 10. The morning session saw drivers acclimatising to the challenging downtown street circuit, and as the track surface cleaned up and grip levels increased, lap times steadily improved. Doornbos and Clarke soon demonstrated their potential as the opening qualifying session unfolded on Friday afternoon, the former topping the timing charts at the 12-minute mark, and Clarke registering the fourth-fastest time. Both drivers continued to post consistently competitive laps, Doornbos eventually completing the 30-minute session in sixth place, and Clarke, with a finely judged last-lap charge, setting his fastest lap and annexing 10th position in the process.

Robert Doornbos (#14) 1 min 20.991 secs 108.456 mph

The session this morning came as a bit of a shock. It is a great circuit here in Las Vegas, but the car was not quite as competitive as we would have liked. Mike (Cannon) and I worked together over lunch, and right from the start this afternoon, we were up there on the charts. Having improved our car today, we are looking much stronger for tomorrow, and obviously have a lot to play for. We are aiming to improve on today's result.

Dan Clarke (#4) 1 min 22.123 secs 106.962 mph

Trying out a new car for the first time at a race weekend is probably not ideal, but as I've been with the team over the winter and attended the tests, it hasn't felt too strange. I don't think we lost out too much, particularly as Robert has been doing the winter testing and it didn't take me long to get comfortable with the car.

In these circumstances I think a top-10 start is as good as we could expect, and gives us a fair starting point to work from. Although I'd like to have taken my time to get used to the car and the track, I needed to be giving as much feedback as possible to my engineers as quickly as possible. The Minardi Team USA boys have definitely made my job today as easy as it could be, with plenty of preparation work; it's been a fairly smooth transition to the new car for me.

The Vegas track is quite cool. It's surprisingly fast for a street circuit, and not too bumpy. The surface is quite smooth, but I think it'll give more grip as the weekend progresses. It's a bit of a mix with the fast sections and the fun parts including the tunnels. I reckon it'll make a good event and an important fixture on the Champ Car calendar.

Paul Stoddart, Team Co-owner

It was a superb effort from both drivers today, Robert showing that he means business in Champ Car with an excellent sixth place. Considering we didn't run the red sidewall Bridgestone Potenzas, this is an even more impressive achievement in his first Champ Car qualifying session. As for Dan, to have finished in the top 10 when he had never even turned a wheel in the new DP01 chassis before today was a truly gutsy performance. It's clear he really did warrant his nickname "Speedy Dan" today. Well done to the entire team for a faultless performance and we now look forward to tomorrow's final qualifying session.

-credit: mtusa

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