RED BULL GULFSTREAM PKV RACING'S NEEL JANI FINISHES SIXTH AT GRAND PRIX OF MONT-TREMBLANT POLE SITTER TRISTAN GOMMENDY EXPERIENCES ELECTRICAL PROBLEM ST. JOVITE, QUEBEC, CANADA -- SUNDAY, JULY 1, 2007 -- Round ...
RED BULL GULFSTREAM PKV RACING'S NEEL JANI FINISHES SIXTH AT GRAND PRIX OF MONT-TREMBLANT
POLE SITTER TRISTAN GOMMENDY EXPERIENCES ELECTRICAL PROBLEM
ST. JOVITE, QUEBEC, CANADA -- SUNDAY, JULY 1, 2007 -- Round #6 -- 2007 Champ Car World Series -- Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing driver Neel Jani finish sixth today in the Grand Prix of Mont-Tremblant at the Circuit Mont-Tremblant in St. Jovite, Quebec, Canada. Teammate Tristan Gommendy, who won the pole, experienced an electrical problem and ended up 12th.
In a race that featured sporadic rain showers, which forced teams to alter their race strategy more than once, Jani, in the #21 Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone car, started sixth and drove a solid race, getting as high as second on the challenging 2.65-mile, 15-turn Mont-Tremblant permanent road course, but could not maintain the pace in the rain and fell back.
"The race started okay for the Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing team in dry conditions," Jani began. "The crew did a great job with the pit stops. We got good fuel mileage. Everything was going perfect. I thought we were on course for a podium finish. Then it started to rain. I managed to get into second place, but then I just couldn't keep the pace in the rain anymore. I was sliding around and I fell place by place back. I had to fight really hard. It was unfortunate. The rain definitely cost us a podium because I could not go the speed anymore in the rain."
Jani, a Champ Car rookie, has now finished in the top-10 four times in the first six races of this season. In addition to today's sixth place showing, he placed third in Cleveland, seventh at Long Beach despite a fueling problem and 10th at the season opener in Las Vegas, where he was the victim of a mechanical problem. In Houston, Jani was running in fourth when he was knocked from the competition and placed 15th. Then at Portland, fuel mileage problems forced him to pit early and he ended up 12th. Jani, 23, is ninth in the championship standings and fourth in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year race, with 88 points. He is just nine points out of sixth place. The native of Jens, Switzerland has qualified in the top-10 four times in six tries, starting fourth at Houston, ninth in his debut at Las Vegas and 10th in Portland (11th in Cleveland and Long Beach). Jani, whose father hails from India, has been a member of the Red Bull driver development program since 2005 and was the test driver for the Scuderia Toro Rosso Team in Formula One in 2006.
Gommendy, who scored just the second pole in PKV Racing's four plus year history, had his starting position nullified when his #22 Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone machine experienced an electrical problem and failed to start. Working diligently, the crew was able to get the car started allowing Gommendy to join the race, albeit two laps down. From there Gommendy persevered and through a combination of attrition, good pit stops and a solid race strategy, managed to score valuable championship points.
"It was a very disappointing day for the Pay By Touch MegaSpirea team," Gommendy said. "We had an electrical problem and could not get the car started. That put us two laps down right away and from there it was just a matter of trying to get some points. I feel bad for the whole team. We worked so hard to get the pole and I think we really had a good chance to win the race, especially since we have shown that we are quick in the rain. In the end it was not meant to be, so we just have to keep our heads up and try and get the pole and the win next weekend in Toronto."
Gommendy has finished in the top-10 twice in the first six races this year placing a season high fifth in his debut at Las Vegas and seventh in Portland, where late-race traffic thwarted a top-five finish. He finished 11th at Long Beach and 13th at both Houston and Cleveland to go with today's 12th place showing. At Long Beach and Houston, Gommendy engaged in spirited battles for the lead with three-time Series Champion Sebastien Bourdais before making late race stops for a fuel. Gommendy, who earned one point for taking the provisional pole, added another nine for today's finish. He picked up one spot in the championship standings and is now tied for 10th with Paul Tracy with 74 points, but sits 11th based upon highest finish. The personable Frenchman is fifth in the rookie of the year race. The 27-year-old Frenchman, who is just the third Champ Car rookie since 2001 to capture a pole (Bruno Junqueira, Nazareth -- 2001; Dan Clarke, Elkhart Lake -- 2006 and Will Power, Australia -- 2006), has qualified in the top-10 four times in six attempts this year. In addition to the pole here in Mont-Tremblant, he has qualified fifth in Portland, where he was the fastest in the rain on Saturday, but lost a front row spot when he caused a red flag; eighth in Houston and ninth in Long Beach, (started 11th in Las Vegas and 12th at Cleveland). Gommendy is a veteran of European open wheel racing having won the 2002 Formula 3 France championship and 2002 Formula 3 Macau GP.
Gommendy's pole, while the second in PKV Racing history, is the first on a road course. Team co-owner and former driver Jimmy Vasser recorded the first pole on June 3, 2005 on the Milwaukee Mile oval. It is also the first time a PKV Racing entry has earned a front row starting spot since Cristiano da Matta qualified second at Cleveland on June 25th, 2005. The first and sixth place starting positions are the second best combined qualifying effort by a pair of PKV Racing drivers and the best on a road course. The best combined qualifying effort was recorded by Vasser, pole, and da Matta, fourth, at Milwaukee in 2005.
Next up for PKV Racing is the second consecutive race in Canada and the third of five races in six weeks the Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto, July 6-8, on the temporary street circuit at Exhibition Place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto, Round #7 of the 2007 Champ Car World Series season, will be televised live on ESPN at 1:00 p.m. (ET).