POWER ON THE PACE AS TEAM AUSTRALIA HITS THE TRACK IN MEXICO Australian rookie Will Power again showed he is a Champ Car star in the making after recording Team's Australia's fastest qualifying time on the opening day of the final race of 2005...
POWER ON THE PACE AS TEAM AUSTRALIA HITS THE TRACK IN MEXICO
Australian rookie Will Power again showed he is a Champ Car star in the making after recording Team's Australia's fastest qualifying time on the opening day of the final race of 2005 at Mexico City today.
Power was fastest of the three Aussie Vineyards Team Australia cars after stopping the clocks at 1 minute, 29.562 seconds to record the ninth fastest time of the day.
Alex Tagliani was only just behind in 11th after only using one set of tires in qualifying, saving his allotment for tomorrow's final qualifying. The Canadian star was fifth fastest in the early practice session.
Team Australia's third car driven by new Toyota Atlantic champion Charles Zwolsman finished 18th fastest but was unlucky to lose his fastest time after being penalized for crossing the white line on the edge of start-finish straight. Zwolsman's quickest lap would have made him 16th fastest.
All three Team Australia drivers saved for tomorrow the faster Bridgestone "red" tires -- a softer compound option tire available which was used to set the fastest lap today by AJ Allmendinger.
Final qualifying will take place tomorrow at 12.45pm local time.
ALEX TAGLIANI -- CAR #15
"The plan today was to only run one set of tires and make sure we have plenty of new rubber for the race on Sunday.
"Tomorrow we will give ourselves a little more time and will be able to have a go on the red Bridgestones which seemed to be a lot quicker today.
"We now will be able to start the race on new tires and run new rubber all the way through the race which will be a big advantage.
"The standard Bridgestones were good but we saw today the red tires are amazingly fast. Tomorrow will be a big bonus to be able to run two sets of reds."
WILL POWER -- CAR #5
"The track here in Mexico is really good and very fast -- it is a lot like a European style circuit. I like it a lot because the track is very technical and extremely challenging.
"I am still learning the track and I am sure I am going to get better and better as the weekend progresses. The team has saved both sets of the faster red Bridgestone tires -- I think that is a great idea because the track is going to get a lot of rubber on it over the weekend and will be a lot faster tomorrow.
"We will look to make a couple of changes tomorrow and try and improve again. There is a bit of time in the car to come, a bit in the driver and lot more in the red tires. Looking at the quick times today, they were all set on those tires so I am looking forward to rest of the weekend."
CHARLES ZWOLSMAN -- CAR #25
"The session was pretty good and I and starting to feel pretty comfortable in the car. Unfortunately I lost my fastest time for crossing over the white line on the straight that cost me a couple of positions.
"We didn't use the red tires today so I am sure there is plenty of time to come.
"I am starting to get more out of the car but I am sure there is more time to come from the driver. The Team Australia guys are starting to make me more comfortable in the car but I still have a couple of bruises from yesterday when the seat and the belts weren't quite right.
"I love the track here -- the layout is just fantastic. The bumps do make it a little tough and without them the esses would be absolutely brilliant."
DERRICK WALKER -- CO-OWNER TEAM AUSTRALIA
"This is a very good first day for Team Australia and it is great to finally complete our log-book of tracks with the Lola chassis -- our last new track of the year.
"Charles did a good job in the third car and Will again keeps improving with laps -- I am cautiously optimistic.
"We have a tendency at the moment with the car being a little loose on corner entry so we will work on that overnight.
"The quick times today were all done on the softer rubber -- our guys haven't tried them yet but we will store them for tomorrow for when it really counts. The track will be a lot quicker then and if we can make the car less nervous on corner entry I think we have a lot of speed to come."
CRAIG GORE -- CO-OWNER TEAM AUSTRALIA
"Today was a very solid start for our weekend in Mexico. We could have tried to set a quick time on the softer compound today, but tomorrow's final qualifying is what it is all about.
"Our team has its sights set on a top five finish in the championship for Alex and we are working towards that goal.
"Will did another fantastic job today -- he continues to impress with every lap he does in the car.
"Charles was pretty unlucky to slip across the white line and earn a penalty. I am sure he will continue to improve with more miles. Team Australia is delighted to be able to work with Champ Car and reward the Toyota Atlantic champion with a ride this weekend -- next year we hope the Atlantic champion will come from our new Team Australia Atlantic squad."