TEAM AUSTRALIA LOOKING TO CONTINUE RECENT SUCCESS Boosted by a last-round podium finish in Mexico, Team Australia heads into this weekend's third round of the Champ Car World Series at Milwaukee with new level of confidence. The Aussie ...
TEAM AUSTRALIA LOOKING TO CONTINUE RECENT SUCCESS
Boosted by a last-round podium finish in Mexico, Team Australia heads into this weekend's third round of the Champ Car World Series at Milwaukee with new level of confidence.
The Aussie Vineyards-backed operation was having only its second start at Monterrey Mexico two weeks ago when Alex Tagliani put his Ford-powered Lola into the top three.
Tagliani, a Canadian who has become an "adopted" Australian after marrying his Australian-born wife Bronte, now sits sixth in the championship with serious ambitions of being a lot higher.
The Mexican result was the first podium finish by an Australia-owned open wheel team in major international competition since Jack Brabham's F1 efforts in the 60s.
Tagliani's young Australian team-mate Marcus Marshall has been studying data night and day from Team Australia's participation in a Champ Car open test at the famous Milwaukee Mile oval a month ago.
The Milwaukee test was the first time Marshall had ever driven on an oval circuit and the team elected to use one of its older Reynard chassis in an effort for him to get a better "feel" for the place.
Marshall's times were off the pace compared to the faster Lola chassis of his opposition, but he adapted to the technical one-mile oval with impressive professionalism.
Australia will again play host to the Champ Car World Series on the streets of Surfers Paradise for the Lexmark Indy 300 from October 20-23. This year will be the first year in the event's history that a full-time Australian team will compete for glory on home turf.
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.
The pair is looking to use the program as a tool for other Australian businesses wanting to market their products and services into the US.
WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY.....
"Milwaukee is a tough track, it is not easy to get around," said Tagliani.
"With the amount of down force we are running you are within a fraction of being flat all the way around.
"You need to have everything right with the car because if you are off by a fraction of a second it can mean the difference between being on the pole and starting 10th.
"We had a very positive test there last month and still have a couple of aerodynamic pieces still left on the table to try this weekend.
"I have felt good with this team from our first test at Sebring earlier in the year and the podium at Monterrey has only helped that.
"I think the team has great potential and that at sometime before the end of the season we will be in a position to compete against Newman-Haas (the championship front runners).
"Everything came together pretty late, but Team Australia has a good group of people and we will only get better with time.
"Marcus (Marshall) has done a pretty good job so far and is staying out of trouble, which is the number one thing in Champ Car at this stage for him.
"He has just so much information to learn, but he was impressive the way he went about things at the Milwaukee test and I think everyone is looking forward to seeing him out there this weekend."
"It will be nice to head to a circuit where I have actually driven a Champ Car before, although this weekend will be my first actual race on an oval," said Marshall.
"We tested at Milwaukee a month ago and it was a tremendous learning experience.
"The first time on an oval in any sort of car is going to provide a pretty steep learning curve. Although we were there for two days there was just so much to learn in a sort amount of time.
"Going back there with the Lola and now with at least some knowledge of the place should result in a bit more speed.
"At the end of the day my goal this weekend is to ensure I stay out of trouble and get as much experience as possible. That can only be achieved if I keep my backside in the seat.
"The team has been great to work with since I arrived over here, but there is an even greater air of confidence around the place after the podium finish in Mexico.
"Milwaukee is not a place you see a lot of Australian flags, but I will be happy to be flying one this weekend."
CRAIG GORE -- TEAM OWNER
"The podium at the last round in Monterrey was a truly unbelievable experience and very surreal now that I've had a little time to let it sink in," said Gore.
"It was certainly one of the greatest moments of my life and one of the more exciting things I've ever done.
"It would be fantastic if we could repeat that in Milwaukee and there is no reason that we can't.
"Our recent success more vindicates what we're doing with Derrick Walker in the Champ Car series.
"Last year during the Lexmark Indy 300 we were placed seventh with David Besnard on board and that proved what sort of potential existed. We've managed to keep things together and get the results in a short space of time so now we've got to ramp things up and keep momentum."
DERRICK WALKER -- TEAM OWNER
"I think this weekend looks promising," said Walker.
"The Milwaukee Mile offers plenty of challenges, but the main one is being able to adapt to the car as the track conditions change over a 60-lap run.
"Over a long run like that the grip levels can change considerably and it is all about making sure you are there at the end.
"For this reason it is more important to focus on race set-up than sheer speed.
"We ran Alex in the Lola at the Milwaukee test to give us a baseline for this weekend and we ran Marcus in the Reynard because we already had a baseline for that car and we needed to know where he was at.
"Alex's test times and his recent performance shows we can be competitive this weekend. Marcus learned a lot from the test and he came away without a bent race car, which is a tough thing to do on an oval for any rookie.
"He got the chance to experiment with different fuel loads ands found out what the air can do around his car when he is in traffic."