CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach: Team Australia race report

LATE RACE HEARTBREAK FOR TEAM AUSTRALIA DEBUT The new Team Australia Champ Car squad suffered a late race heartbreak in its debut today with Alex Tagliani falling out of a top ten result with only two laps remaining in the Long Beach Grand ...

LATE RACE HEARTBREAK FOR TEAM AUSTRALIA DEBUT

The new Team Australia Champ Car squad suffered a late race heartbreak in its debut today with Alex Tagliani falling out of a top ten result with only two laps remaining in the Long Beach Grand Prix.

After qualifying strongly in seventh, Tagliani ran sixth in the early stages but fuel mileage issues dropped him down to ninth as the race drew to a close.

However, with only two laps to run, the Canadian was shown a black flag for leaking oil from the rear of the car. At the same time, the team radioed Tagliani to alert him of a problem with falling gearbox oil pressure. Tagliani was forced to pull off the track on lap 79 or the 81 lap race, dropping him down to 15th in the race standings.

Australian rookie Marcus Marshall finished one spot ahead in 14th in his Champ Car debut. The Queenslander only fell off the lead lap late in the race but gained valuable mileage between the wheel of the Aussie Vineyards #5 Lola.

Marshall battled a back problem during the race caused by a drink hose that became caught between his back and the seat.

The team will now test in Portland this week in preparation for the next round of the Champ Car World Series in Monterrey, Mexico on May 22.

Team Australia is a new Champ Car entry created for 2005 by veteran team owner Derrick Walker and Australian businessmen Craig Gore and John Fish.

The team will contest the championship with major sponsorship from Aussie Vineyards, a new Queensland company established by Gore and Fish to export Australian wine into the US market.

ALEX TAGLIANI -- CAR #15
"It would have been fantastic to end up with a top ten result. Things didn't work out for us at the finish when the gearbox broke while I was running ninth with a couple of laps to go.

"I got a good start and was running sixth early, but our fuel mileage wasn't as good as we would have liked and we lost a couple of spots on the last round of pit stops.

"But overall I am very enthusiastic about our start to the season. The team has worked very hard and our pit stops were great in the race.

"It was a tough result for the whole team, but I knew I had some problems with the box during the race and was having trouble with the down shifts. Unfortunately, it didn't get me to the finish"

MARCUS MARSHALL -- CAR #5
"I thought today would actually be a little tougher physically than it actually was. I really learnt a lot today -- pit stops, cold tires, full fuel loads -- all the stuff that I hadn't done before.

"It will be great to take all that stuff which I now know into the next race. I know where I can improve a lot and will go back now and look at the all the data and look forward to Mexico.

"The race went pretty well to plan, but went I got strapped into the car part of my drink hose was behind my back and it really started to hurt after a while. I couldn't push on the brake as hard as I would have liked at times and it probably hurt my consistency a little. I could still churn out the laps, but when we were under safety car I really noticed the pain.

"Overall I am pretty happy with the day and it was just a pity that I ended up with the leaders right at the end of the race and went down a lap. After 80 laps or so - to still be on the lead lap on my debut I am quite happy with. All in all, it was a great to get our first race under our belt for Team Australia and all the guys at Aussie Vineyards."

DERRICK WALKER -- TEAM OWNER
"It was a disappointing finish but we have to take everything in perspective as to how quickly everything has come together and how strongly we were able to run with a new car to qualify seventh.

"We need to look into the gearbox and find out what the problem was. Our strategy went pretty well to plan except our fuel mileage wasn't good enough. We are going to work on that in testing at Portland this week. We will probably spend the entire first day tackling that.

"It is a lesson learnt because we have been focussing on outright speed rather than our race pace.

"I think Marcus did a great job given what he had to achieve and the amount of time he had in the car. The problem with his back didn't help, but he will be a lot better now he has another 80 laps under his belt."

CRAIG GORE -- TEAM OWNER
"It has been an outstanding debut for us and our plan for Marcus was just to get the finish and we achieved that, so that is a fantastic start.

"We have a long way to go and we are certainly not thinking we are going to go out and win the first couple of races but I am very happy with the start.

"The response from the crowd and our supporters has been incredible. The Queensland Government, the fans, everybody who has come over to see our debut from back home -- it really has been great to be welcomed to the Champ Car World Series so warmly."

-ta-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Tagliani , Marcus Marshall