PASTORELLI COMPLETES FIRST CHAMP CAR RACE IN MONTERREY WITH ROCKETSPORTS RACING MONTERREY, Mexico (May 21, 2006) - Starting 16th on the grid for Rocketsports Racing, driver Nicky Pastorelli made his second Champ Car start, had two excellent pit...
PASTORELLI COMPLETES FIRST CHAMP CAR RACE IN MONTERREY WITH ROCKETSPORTS RACING
MONTERREY, Mexico (May 21, 2006) - Starting 16th on the grid for Rocketsports Racing, driver Nicky Pastorelli made his second Champ Car start, had two excellent pit stops, and brought the #8 Bavaria City Racing/Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone home in the 15th spot to mark his first Champ Car finish of his racing career.
The green flag dropped this very hot afternoon in Monterrey, Mexico to mark the start of Round Three in the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. Pastorelli, who was making his debut racing in front of an enormous crowd of Mexican race fans, made a clean start and gained one position on his first lap around the 2.104-mile permanent road course in the scenic Fundidora Park of Monterrey. Fighting hard to hold his position, the Italo-Dutch driver was black flagged for blocking fellow rookie Dan Clarke. The penalty required Pastorelli to come into the pits for a drive through, causing him to loose an estimated 10 seconds to the rest of the field when he served his penalty on Lap 22.
"I do not feel that I did anything wrong," said Pastorelli on the topic of his blocking penalty. "I changed the line that I was driving once and went on the inside, but I do not feel that move was in any way blocking Dan Clarke. My team told me that Clarke had been running faster times than I was, so that is why that call was probably made, but it was for a race position so I don't think that it was something that I should have just given away. It just makes no sense to me."
However, a stroke of luck came his way on Lap 23 as the track went yellow for debris. This allowed the Champ Car rookie dri ver to catch up to the field before the pits opened. Pastorelli completed his first stop-and-go pit stop today, literally in a Champ Car as a brake issue early on in his debut race in Houston caused him to come in for work and he never had a chance to do a real pit stop during that event because his race ended early due to mechanical failure. Stopping on his marks in the pit box perfectly; the Rocketsports crew worked hard doing a super quick stop, getting him out ahead one car that he was trailing. Two laps later, the 23-year-old driver would obtain another position moving into the 13th spot, marking his highest running position of the day.
"I am happy to finish my first Champ Car race today," stated Pastorelli. "We started on the Bridgestone Potenza Red Tires today for the race, but they were not holding very long as I lost grip early on. When I came in for my first pit stop, we put on the Bridgestone Potenza Black Tires and we were doing good from that point on. I lost some time after that stop when I was behind Jan Heylen. I was quicker than him, but there were not many opportunities to pass here. I was definitely trying hard to pass him, and on the front straight I took a shot at it, but you have to go off-line to try to make the pass and there is no grip out there, so I couldn't hold on to it to obtain the position. The Rocketsports team did an excellent job today for me during the pit stops, and I was actually quite impressed in myself on how well the two stops went. We need to find some more speed, but I know we will get there as we continue to work together."
Finishing the race in the 14th spot after completing 75 of 76 laps, Pastorelli was penalized again after a post-race review by Champ Car officials concerning rookie Katherine Legge's spun when she was challenging the Rocketsports driver on the final lap of the race. He was called for blocking her, which caused her to spin, and wa s penalized a lap. That changed the official results, moving Legge ahead of Pastorelli on the timing and scoring sheets, altering his final result in the Tecate Grand Prix of Monterrey Presented by Roshfrans to 15th.
Rocketsports team owner, Paul Gentilozzi, was happy to see his new driver complete his first Champ Car race. "Nicky did a good job today. He drove a hard race under some extreme conditions (warm temperatures). Most importantly, he has a complete race under his belt. He seems to be getting more and more comfortable in the car and what is important is the experience that he gets out there on the track."
The team will have two weeks off before their next event at the legendary Milwaukee Mile. They will head back to their East Lansing, Michigan-based shop tomorrow for a little rest before getting the #8 Rocketsports Lola prepared for its first and only oval race on the 2006 Champ Car World Series schedule.