POWER EXTENDS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD WITH THIRD IN LONG BEACH
Team Australia driver Will Power has extended his lead in the Champ Car World Series standings by finishing third in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in Long Beach, California today.
The Toowoomba-born driver made a sensational pass on the final lap of the race to grab third position from Justin Wilson and score his third Champ Car podium in succession. Power was third in the season finale in Mexico City last year and won the opening round of this year's championship in Las Vegas one week ago.
The Australian now holds a 15-point lead over former team-mate Alex Tagliani in the series standings, with Long Beach race winner and defending series champion Sebastien Bourdais in third, 19 points behind Power.
Power started from second on the grid but encountered a gear selection problem at a restart during the race that cost him time. From there the Aussie Vineyards pilot worked him was back up the order, culminating with a spectacular pass on Englishman Wilson on the final lap.
Power cleverly reserved some of his 'Power to Pass' boost for the final lap of the race and used it wisely to win the final step on the podium in the #5 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01.
Team Australia rookie and 2006 Atlantic Champion Simon Pagenaud again showed impressive speed but lacked luck in Long Beach. The Frenchman was on course for a strong points finish until clipping the wall and losing valuable time attempting to restart the #15 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01.
Several laps down, Pagenaud went all out to gain a bonus point for his championship tally by setting the fastest lap of the race, which he successfully achieved on lap 66 with a time of 1min08.594secs, over two tenths of a second faster than race winner and three times Champ Car champion Bourdais.
Pagenaud ended the race classified in 14th position and sits 16th in the series standings, but has shown over the opening two rounds that he has the pace to be a regular contender for top five results.
Bourdais won today's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach ahead of Forsythe substitute Oriol Servia of Spain and Power, with Wilson fourth and Tagliani fifth.
Team Australia now heads to Houston, Texas for the third round in three successive weeks, where Power will be charging for his fourth-straight podium finish.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY --
Will Power -- #5 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01
"For me it was a busy day sitting behind cars," said Power.
"It was a good result in the end, we earned a good haul of points and another podium. We can now look forward to the next race in Houston next weekend with the championship lead."
"Towards the end of the race I had 'push to pass' left. I got a really good exit out of the corner, had a chance to get past Wilson and I took it. It was a clean pass and I got around the corner no problems.
"I must say, in some ways it felt like a more satisfying day today than last week because it was such a hectic race for me. I made the mistake early in the race on the restart when I couldn't get first gear. I cost me a lot of time and it almost lost me two spots.
"From then on, I was just fighting, sitting behind Tag (Tagliani), then Justin Wilson. I had the car to do it. We had a really quick car, but it's so hard to pass around here.
"I sat behind and saved fuel. It didn't matter in the end because we had a yellow stop anyway. I made the pass and got the final podium spot, which was very satisfying."
Simon Pagenaud -- #15 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01
"For the second race in the season I was running up front with everyone, with Will, Tagliani and Wilson," said Pagenaud.
"We were running great and I didn't have any issues with the balance. I was just trying to save as much fuel as I could. I knew we could go a lot faster, but I couldn't get by them.
"Unfortunately 14 minutes before the end I went in turn eight and was braking at the exact same point, but locked up my rear wheels. I don't know what really happened, but I went into the wall and that was it. We didn't do any damage to the car, but I couldn't fire up the car again.
"Once we got the car back going, it was great. We did the fastest lap of the race and got a point, which is a step in the right direction.
"It's great because it means that the Aussie Vineyards car is really fast. I'm happy with the car and my performance and what the team did today."
Derrick Walker -- Team Australia Co-Owner
"The key was to come home with the best amount of points we could manage," said Walker.
"We need to look at what went wrong with Simon's car because he would have been right there if he hadn't had a small problem there half way through the race.
"Will drove a good race and kept his head. We stretched the windows just to make sure we stayed on track with our pit stops.
"We did what we had to do and came away with some good points."
Craig Gore -- Team Australia Co-Owner
"Another podium is a fantastic result for Team Australia, Will, Aussie Vineyards and all of our sponsors," said Gore.
"The interest in our operation since winning the opening race in Las Vegas has been phenomenal.
"We have certainly raised the bar for everyone within the operation. To a point where we turned up here this weekend, absolutely knowing we were one of the favourites to win the race.
"Will made a strong pass to clinch a podium spot and extend his lead in the championship. He continues to show the fighting qualities, which are going to make him a contender for this year's title.
"Simon again showed terrific speed and the consistency he needs to battle for podium places will come.
"It has been an exciting start to the championship for everyone here and our supporters in Australia and around the world. All the guys are already focused on Houston next weekend."