CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach: PKV Racing race report

PKV RACING'S NEEL JANI FINISHES SEVENTH AT TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH SEVENTH PLACE SHOWING ESTABLISHES NEW TEAM RECORD GOMMENDY GAMEBLES, LEADS RACE IN ROUTE TO 11TH PLACE SHOWING LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA -- SUNDAY, APRIL 15, 2007 --...

PKV RACING'S NEEL JANI FINISHES SEVENTH AT TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH

SEVENTH PLACE SHOWING ESTABLISHES NEW TEAM RECORD
GOMMENDY GAMEBLES, LEADS RACE IN ROUTE TO 11TH PLACE SHOWING

LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA -- SUNDAY, APRIL 15, 2007 -- Round #2 -- 2007 Champ Car World Series season -- PKV Racing's Neel Jani established a team record by finishing seventh today at the 33rd running of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on the challenging 1.968-mile, 11-turn downtown Long Beach temporary street circuit. Teammate Tristan Gommendy and his crew gamble which led to him briefly leading the race, but wound up 11th.

Jani, who pilots the #21 Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone machine, benefited from a solid race strategy, which had him on schedule for a podium finish. However, he became the victim of a mechanical problem fueling the car, which prevented him from maximizing the strategy. Jani qualified 11th, but moved into tenth place early in the event. However, shortly after the first yellow flag flew on lap eight, the Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing Team made a strategy move and pitted. As a result Jani dropped to 14th place where he remained until the leaders began pitting starting at lap 28. Five laps later, Jani found himself in second place behind Oriol Servia, who also went with the out of sequence maneuver, and with a low load of fuel. The two, along with Gommendy, who was only on the same strategy, started pulling away from the field and gaining track position. An additional five laps later Jani pitted for the second time, which was when the fuel problem reared its ugly head. While Servia was able to get in and out in second place, Jani who lost about three seconds dropped to ninth. The 23 year-old native of Rorschach, Switzerland ran in ninth until his third pit stop, when despite the continuing fueling problems, his crew managed to get him back on track in eighth place. Jani picked up one more spot when his teammate pitted for the final time on lap 68 of the 78 lap, 1 hour and 45 minute contest.

"I think the Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing Team had a good strategy today," Jani began. "A really good strategy, which got me into second place at one point, but unfortunately we had a mechanical issue when we were fueling and the fuel didn't come in fast enough. That cost me important seconds on each stop. As a result of that problem we lost a better finishing position because I was right on Servia's tail and he finished second. It was a tough weekend, but in the end we earned some points. Now we will just have to go to the next weekend and do better," he concluded.

Jani's seventh place finish was the highest of the eight rookies competing in today's event and surpasses an eighth place showing by Katherine Legge as the best result by a PKV Racing driver in ten starts covering five races at Long Beach. Jani, who earned 17 points today, is currently 10th in the championship race with 28 points. He is third in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year standings.

Gommendy in the #22 Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone entry, started ninth and was running there when the team pitted him at the same time as Jani in a strategy move. Stuck in 13th place he jumped to third when the leaders pitted. Following his second stop, Gommendy dropped to 11th. On lap 54 a second yellow flag came out. Jani, like most of the field pitted, but the Pay By Touch MegaSpirea Team decided to gamble. Stuck in the middle of the pack, but getting good fuel mileage and needing only a handful of additional yellow laps, the team left Gommendy on track where he assumed the lead. Unfortunately, the additional yellows did not materialize in time and Gommendy was forced to pit a final time late in the race for a splash of fuel. The spot dropped him to 12 place, but he picked on one more place during the closing laps when another competitor fell out.

"I continue to learn," Gommendy said. "To lead a Champ Car race, it is a new experience. We use a new setup on the Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing car for the race and basically at the beginning of a stint the car was quite good, but at the end of the stint I had a huge understeer (push). I think the biggest thing for me right now is to test, so I can work on the setups and learn more about the car. But, overall I think we have improved--we led the race for 13 laps today, which was quite nice. Also, we finished the race and our result is not that bad."

PKV Racing has now qualified in the top-10 four times in ten attempts and finished in the top-10 four times in five races at Long Beach.

-credit: pkv

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Series INDYCAR