TEAM AUSTRALIA CHASES TOP FIVE SPOT
The Aussie Vineyards Team Australia squad has its sights set on a top five championship result for Alex Tagliani as the Champ Car World Series heads to Mexico for the final round of the 2005 championship this weekend.
Tagliani's fourth place finished on the streets of Surfers Paradise moved him within seven points of A.J. Allmendinger in fifth place. However, Tagliani faces a tough challenge ahead with Allmendinger heading a points "traffic jam" with 199 points ahead of Jimmy Vassser, 198; Tagliani, 192; Mario Dominguez, 189; and Timo Glock on 181.
However, the Canadian-born "adopted Australian" will be hoping for a change of fortune in Mexico with his new team in 2005. His best ever qualifying effort at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is only 13th (2004 and 2003) and his best race finish 10th (2002).
Tagliani will be joined in Mexico by young Australian star Will Power who will make his second start for Team Australia.
The Queenslander made his debut at the Lexmark Indy 300 after spending 2005 racing in Europe in the World Series by Renault Championship.
The Aussie Vineyards team will also run a third car at the series finale for newly-crowned Toyota Atlantic champion Charles Zwolsman.
Team Australia will make its debut in the relaunched Cosworth-powered Atlantic Championship in 2006 with a two car team wearing the green and gold colours.
ALEX TAGLIANI - #15, AUSSIE VINEYARDS LOLA FORD
"The track at Mexico City has a lot of really good high speed corners, especially the chicane over on the back part of the course.
"It really has a little bit of everything -- including a street course type section inside the baseball stadium. Overall it is pretty demanding and a challenging place to get the car right for.
"The aim for the weekend is to keep fighting hard to grab a top five spot in the championship.
"I am only seven points from 5th spot but it will be a very tight battle with those guys I am fighting with.
"Bad luck cost me some points early in the year, but it will now be very important to finish with a good result. That will give the Aussie Vineyards team a great springboard for 2006."
WILL POWER - #5, AUSSIE VINEYARDS LOLA FORD
"Basically I am looking forward to getting back in the car again.
"These couple of races are all about seat time for me before I head into my first full rookie season.
"I am looking forward to completing a race without any drama and learning as much as I possibly can.
"From what I hear about Mexico it is a pretty fast track and that's something that I certainly like.
"I just need to stay out of trouble and get the miles."
CHARLES ZWOLSMAN - #25, AUSSIE VINEYARDS LOLA FORD
"This has been a tremendous year for me personally and Condor Motorsports.
"I have to thank Team Australia and Kevin Kalkhoven and his Champ Car operation for making this weekend's ride possible.
"The goal has been to reach the Champ Car ranks for sometime and I am really looking forward to the experience.
"Team Australia has really made an impact this season on and off the track and I believe I will learn a lot this weekend in so many areas."
CRAIG GORE - CO-OWNER TEAM AUSTRALIA
"We have certainly come a long way in what seems a short amount of time.
"It is hard to believe we are already at the last race of the season.
"Everyone involved with the team is still on the high generated in Australia and I think the crew is living on adrenalin after their efforts to get three cars to the last couple of races.
"I think everyone involved with Team Australia can be proud of what we have achieved this season and hopefully we can get Alex a couple of spots higher on the championship table with a solid result in Mexico this weekend.
"We certainly could have had better results in Australia on the track, but sometimes that's racing. Bring on Mexico."
DERRICK WALKER -- CO-OWNER TEAM AUSTRALIA
"This will be the last track where we will be running the Lola for the first time. Finding that sweet spot early will be the secret to having a strong car in qualifying.
"The Mexico City track has a little bit of everything, it really is a classic road course.
"I went to Mexico for the original Champ Car events in 1980 and 81 and the facility has changed dramatically since then. It really is now first class. I have to say this race is one of my favourites. It is a great fan track with a brilliant atmosphere.
"Our first season together really has had a lot more positives than negatives but our aim will certainly be to cap off the year with a good result.