GREAT PIT WORK BY PKV RACING CREWS HELPS TEAM EARN PAIR OF TOP-10 FINISHES AT MOLSON INDY MONTREAL DA MATTA FINISHES SIXTH, VASSER SEVENTH MONTREAL, QUEBEC, CANADA -- SUNDAY, AUGUST 28, 2005 -- Round ...
GREAT PIT WORK BY PKV RACING CREWS HELPS TEAM EARN PAIR OF TOP-10 FINISHES AT MOLSON INDY MONTREAL
DA MATTA FINISHES SIXTH, VASSER SEVENTH
MONTREAL, QUEBEC, CANADA -- SUNDAY, AUGUST 28, 2005 -- Round #10 -- 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- Great pit work by both PKV Racing crews was a key factor as the team scored a pair of top-10 finishes in today's Molson Indy Montreal at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
On a day that began with rain showers in the morning and rain tires on the cars during the warm-up, but was very hot and extremely humid by the start of the race, it was the work of the PKV Racing pit crews that proved to be the decisive factor in what was a grueling race on the 2.709-mile, 12-turn Montreal permanent road course. Cristiano da Matta, in the #21 Bell Micro/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone car, drove a steady, error free race and got "awesome" pit stops from his Bell Micro/PKV Racing crew to earn a sixth place finish. Meanwhile, teammate Jimmy Vasser, who also got outstanding work from his Gulfstream/PKV Racing crew, had a little more eventful race having to overcome a difficult start before battling back with a competitive effort in the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine to place seventh.
Da Matta, who started eighth, ran in eighth place for all but one of the first 57 laps of the 79 lap contest (he dropped one place during his first pit stop on lap 19 due to pit location, but regained the position on the first lap out). The native of Brazil held position through the second stop, on lap 39, but moved into seventh place on lap 58 when A. J. Allmendinger pitted during a yellow flag, and with pit lane closed, to repair a flat tire. Da Matta pitted for the third and final time on lap 60 and after a fantastic stop by the Bell Mirco/PKV Racing crew he rejoined the contest ahead of Mario Dominguez, who had been sixth. However, because Allmendinger had made the earlier, albeit illegal, pit stop da Matta still sat seventh on the leader board following the final round of stops. Two laps later, Allmendinger was penalized for entering a closed pit lane, so da Matta moved into sixth place where he remained for the final 16 laps. The sixth place showing snapped a streak of five consecutive DNFs (did not finish) and moved the 2002 Series Champion back into the top-10 in the championship standings at number 10 with 121 points.
"The Bell Micro/PKV Racing team ran in the same position we started for most of the race," da Matta began. "That was pretty much where we were going to finish except for the work of the crew and some incidents on the track," he observed. "The Bell Micro/PKV Racing crew did a great job, a great job in the pits. We had awesome stops. That is where today's result came from. I think I need to take them all to dinner tonight," da Matta noted. "Overall, I am very happy about finishing a race and getting some championship points. After what has been happening to us the last five races, this definitely feels very good," he concluded.
This was just da Matta's second start in Montreal. After participating in the inaugural event in 2002 he spent the last two seasons competing in Formula 1. Da Matta has now racked up two solid performances on the challenging Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve permanent road circuit adding today's eighth place start and sixth place finish to a pole and a second place showing in 2002.
Da Matta, who is competing in his fifth Champ Car season and first with PKV Racing, made his 89th career start and tenth for the team today. The resident of Miami, FL has now placed in the top-10 in five of the 10 races contested this year including a victory in Portland, the first in PKV Racing's two-plus year history. He has qualified in the top-10 in nine of the 10 events, missing out only in San Jose, with a best starting position of second, in Cleveland, followed by a fourth in Milwaukee and a fifth in Edmonton.
Vasser, who was making his ninth consecutive top-10 start after qualifying ninth, lost two places on the opening lap of the race when he backed off to avoid contact with Nelson Philippe. The move allowed both Philippe and Timo Glock to slip by dropping Vasser into 11th place. A veteran and a former champion who was making his 228th career Champ Car start, Vasser refused to get flustered or frustrated and simply went to work regaining the positions. He moved into 10th place when Glock, who was consuming fuel at a quicker rate, pitted on lap 16 then back into ninth when his Gulfstream/PKV Racing crew got him out of the pits following his first stop, on lap 19, ahead of Philippe. Vasser remained in ninth through the second round of stops, on lap 39. He moved into eighth in the Allmendinger incident and seventh when his crew got him out of the pits following the final fuel stop on lap 60 ahead of Dominguez and Allmendinger was penalized.
"The Gulfstream/PKV Racing team's race was about like we qualified. I qualified behind my teammate and finished behind my teammate, but the crew did a great job in the pits, which helped us pick up some positions," Vasser noted. "I am just happy to have both PKV Racing cars take the checkered flag, get some valuable championship points and go on the transporter in one piece," he said. Also, I am very happy and want to congratulate Oriol Servia on his first Champ Car win," Vasser concluded.
Vasser, who is competing in his 14th Champ Car season, extended his record of consecutive starts to 207 with his fourth start in Montreal today. The highly respected 39-year-old native California has now finished in the top-10 in three of his four starts in Montreal with a best showing of fifth in 2002. He has qualified in the top-10 three times with a best starting position of sixth in 2002.
Vasser, who resides in Las Vegas NV, has now finished in the top-10 in six of the ten races this year with two top-five showings, a season high fourth in Toronto and a fifth in Milwaukee. He has qualified in the top-10 in nine of the 10 events this year (missing out only in the season opener in Long Beach) including capturing the first pole in PKV Racing's history, at Milwaukee. The 1996 Series Champion is eighth in the championship standings with 148 points, but is just 16 points out of fifth.
PKV Racing made its fourth and fifth starts while competing in its third race in Montreal today.
They have now finished in the top-10 in all five of their starts in Montreal with a best showing of sixth this year by da Matta. (Vasser, seventh this year and eighth in 2004; Papis, ninth in 2003; and Gonzalez, 10th in 2004). The team has qualified in the top-10 twice in five attempts both times this year.
After the first 10 races of the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series season, PKV Racing has already established a number of team records. Da Matta scored the team's first victory in their two plus year history in Portland while Vasser earned the team's first pole in round #3 at Milwaukee. The two drivers have combined to set team records for best combined qualifying, first and fourth at Milwaukee and best combined finish, first and sixth at Portland. They have both qualified in the top-10 in a team record eight races, including a team record six consecutive races (the streak ended in San Jose). Da Matta and Vasser have finished in the top-10 in the same race three times (eighth and 10th at Long Beach; first and sixth at Portland and sixth and seventh in Montreal) this year and at least one of them placed in the top-six in six of the 10 events including five consecutive races (the streak ended in Edmonton), which is also a team record.
Next up for PKV Racing is the Champ Car Grand Prix of Las Vegas, September 24-25, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, NV. The Champ Car Grand Prix of Las Vegas will run at 8:30 p.m. (PT) on Saturday, September 25. It will be televised taped delayed on Sunday, September 26 at 3:00 p.m. (ET) on SPEED Channel.