CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach: Team Australia preview

TEAM AUSTRALIA MAINTAINS FOCUS HEADING INTO LONG BEACH Team Australia is determined to maintain focus and drive towards further success as the Aussie Vineyards team heads into the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in California...

TEAM AUSTRALIA MAINTAINS FOCUS HEADING INTO LONG BEACH

Team Australia is determined to maintain focus and drive towards further success as the Aussie Vineyards team heads into the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in California this weekend.

Team Australia ace Will Power captured his and Team Australia's first Champ Car victory in Las Vegas last weekend in the opening round of the 2007 Champ Car World Series.

With a race winner's trophy and the championship lead in his possession, the 26-year-old from Toowoomba in Queensland, Australia is more determined than ever to keep the #5 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01 at the front of the field.

Power has maintained a demanding fitness regime over the off-season and rather than sit back and enjoy the spoils of victory, the 2006 Champ Car Rookie of the Year continued training during the week, cycling with former team-mate Alex Taglaini.

Team Australia scored a podium in Long Beach last season with Tagliani, giving the team added confidence entering one of the marque events of the championship.

Power's young team-mate Simon Pagenaud was unlucky in Las Vegas when mechanical issues ended his charge, but the Frenchman has an added advantage heading into Long Beach.

Despite his rookie status in Champ Car, Pagenaud raced at Long Beach in last year's Champ Car Atlantic Championship and finished fourth in what was the first round of his championship-winning season.

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY --

Will Power -- #5 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01

"I feel great and very confident going into Long Beach after our strong weekend," said Power.

"We will go into this weekend the same as we did in Vegas. Try to get the best out of the car, qualify in the top five and minimize our mistakes and get as many points as possible.

"It helps coming to Long Beach because I really like the circuit and I look forward to coming back to a track that I have been to before. Last year we did well, but I made some mistakes so I want to get this race right and get Team Australia on the podium again."

Simon Pagenaud -- #15 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01

"Obviously I got lots of experience in Las Vegas, which will help me greatly especially since I know the Long Beach track and raced it last year so it shouldn't be as difficult," said Pagenaud.

"We have a good street car and will be ready to be quick again this weekend. The Long Beach circuit is a fun track and now we will just go into this weekend with the same mode as we went into Vegas.

"Team Australia has given me a great car so far and I can't wait to bring them all a great result."

Derrick Walker -- Team Australia Co-Owner

"I would expect the competition to be a lot stronger at Long Beach," said Walker.

"A lot of the drivers have raced on the Long Beach circuit and the teams know it very well. Las Vegas was a little bit of a leveller as far as we all went into the weekend never having raced in Las Vegas.

"However, Long Beach is a little different, but I fully expect our car to be ideally suited to the streets of Long Beach."

Craig Gore -- Team Australia Co-Owner

"It was an amazing start to the season last weekend," said Gore.

"But as they say, you are only as good as your last race.

"We achieved a lot of firsts last weekend but Las Vegas is just the beginning.

"The feedback and congratulations we have had from right around the world on Will's result has been amazing and it makes you proud to be an Australian.

"This program is about taking Australian drivers, the Aussie Vineyards brand and the brands of our sponsors to the world and every success helps accelerate that process.

"Will and Simon have shown in preseason testing and at Las Vegas that they will be fast this season.

"Will has shown that he's not only a threat to win races but now has to be taken seriously as a championship threat.

"Bring on Long Beach."

-credit: taus

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Series INDYCAR