TEAM AUSTRALIA TAKES AIM FOR MEXICO The Aussie Vineyards-sponsored Team Australia Champ Car team will head south of the United States border this weekend to Monterrey, Mexico for round two of the 2005 Champ Car World Series. The green and...
TEAM AUSTRALIA TAKES AIM FOR MEXICO
The Aussie Vineyards-sponsored Team Australia Champ Car team will head south of the United States border this weekend to Monterrey, Mexico for round two of the 2005 Champ Car World Series.
The green and gold outfit has enjoyed a busy testing schedule in the past five weeks, developing its new Lola chassis at the Portland and Sebring road courses and the Milwaukee oval.
The team made its debut at the opening round of the championship at Long Beach and was unlucky not to earn a top ten finish when Alex Tagliani suffered a gearbox problem with only two laps remaining.
Tagliani has been a strong force at Monterrey, Mexico in the past three years, recording three top five finishes and a podium finish of third in 2003.
Young Australian Marcus Marshall has been busily studying video footage as he prepares for his debut at the Mexican circuit which is located in a local park in Monterrey.
This is one of two Mexican rounds of the 2005 championship. The series finale will be staged in Mexico City on November 6.
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.
"It has been five weeks between the races but we have been extremely busy. We have tested at Portland, Milwaukee and Sebring and I have also been working extremely hard on my fitness.
"I have been working hard with Jim Leo from 'Pit Fit' who works with a number of racers including Scott Dixon. He has been working me extremely hard, but also working on specific areas which are really helpful including improving core strength. It's not just your abs, but through your back and backside as well.
"Like most of the season, Monterrey will be a completely new tack for me but I have spent a lot of time looking at videos and going over data from last year -- looking at throttle, brake and gear change data.
"Long Beach was fantastic to get a full race under my belt. That experience was really priceless. We had some good pits stops and I now know what to expect in race conditions.
"It is a big responsibility to be an Australian driving for Team Australia, but getting to the finish at Long Beach took a big weight off my shoulders."
"The break between Long Beach and Monterrey has been really good for our team. Everything came together really late and really we performed above everybody's expectations at Long Beach. Now we have had the chance to put in a lot of testing miles and really gel together.
"We still have a long way to go, but I am really confident we can do well in Mexico.
"I really enjoy the circuit. It is very different to anything else we race on because it has the layout of a road circuit, yet has the grip of a street track.
"It is really a low grip circuit and you need a car that will perform well over the kerbs.
"We won't know until we get there and roll the Aussie Vineyards car off the truck, but I think we should have a pretty good car.
"I am really looking forward to coming away with a strong result after grabbing two fifth places and a third in the past three years.
"Long Beach was looking good for us until we broke with only two laps to go -- that was pretty disappointing but we will bounce back strong this week."
CRAIG GORE -- TEAM OWNER
"Long Beach was fantastic for Team Australia and we are looking forward to building on that in Mexico this weekend.
"Marcus did a great job in Long Beach and we would like to think he can build on that and end up with a top 15 at Monterrey. Alex has been pretty strong at Monterrey for the past couple of years, so I think he can continue that run this year.
"The support for our team on both sides of the Pacific has been amazing and opened a lot of doors for us commercially as well."
DERRICK WALKER -- TEAM OWNER
"The break between Long Beach and Monterrey has been very beneficial because we have been able to cram in several hundred miles and six days of testing during that period.
"From this point on, the season becomes very hectic with races every other week or even back-to-back and it is very difficult to try and schedule valuable testing miles.
"We have made good use of our time during this period to get to know the Lola chassis better and learn what it likes and what the driver preferences on set up are.
"The testing has also been very beneficial for Marcus -- he has been like a big sponge soaking up all the information and data he can to try to move forward."