CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland: PKV Racing Friday report

PKV RACING NINTH AND 14TH ON PROVISIONAL GRID FOR G. I. JOE'S PRESENTS THE CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF PORTLAND PORTLAND, OREGON -- FRIDAY, JUNE 16, 2006 -- Round ...

PKV RACING NINTH AND 14TH ON PROVISIONAL GRID FOR G. I. JOE'S PRESENTS THE CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF PORTLAND

PORTLAND, OREGON -- FRIDAY, JUNE 16, 2006 -- Round #6 -- 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing drivers Oriol Servia and Katherine Legge qualified ninth and 14th respectively during today's provisional qualifying for Sunday's G. I. Joe's presents the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon.

Servia, #6 Gulfsteam -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, qualified with a fast lap of 59.485 seconds (118.860 mph) on the 1.969-mile, 10 turn Portland International Raceway permanent road course. Meanwhile Legge, #20 Bell Micro -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, clocked a fast time of 59.903 seconds (118.031 mph).

Servia opened the day sixth on the speed charts following the morning practice session, with a fast time of 59.352 seconds (119.1278 mph). However, at the end of the session he had an off track excursion which resulted in heavy damage to the primary car. After accessing the damage the Gulfstream -- PKV Racing team decided to switch to the backup car for qualifying. In the meantime a short rain storm hit the area washing the morning rubber from the circuit and making the track slightly slower. In the short pre-qualifying afternoon practice/warm-up, Servia posted a fast lap of 59.724 seconds (118.385 mph), which placed him fourth on the individual practice report for the session, but left him sixth on the combined report based on the faster morning times. For qualifying, the Gulfstream -- PKV Racing team used a strategy that called for shorter runs to maximize the Bridgestone tires. Going out on the primary, or black, tire, Servia ran a total of five laps turning a quick time of 59.670 seconds, which placed him 12th on the grid after his first stint. With seven minutes remaining in the session, Servia went back out for his second stint, but two laps into the run a red flag forced him back into the pits. By the time the track was ready for more qualifying there were only two and a half minutes left in the session. Running a total of three laps, two of which were at speed, Servia was able to pick up almost two more tenths slipping him into the top-10.

"Obviously the Gulfstream -- PKV Racing team is not happy qualifying ninth," Servia said. "But, considering we had to use the backup car it is not bad. It was important that we get a decent time in today in case it rains tomorrow for final qualifying. We wanted to at least be in the top-10, and we are, so that is good," he noted. "The Gulfstream -- PKV Racing crew did a great job getting the car ready for qualifying. Now we just have to work on the set up and hopefully get a chance to move up the grid tomorrowl," Servia concluded.

Servia, who is making his sixth appearance in Portland, has qualified in the top-10 twice in five previous attempts with a best starting position of sixth in 2003. In his five previous races, he has finished in the top-10 three times with a best showing of fifth also in 2003 (eighth in 2000 and ninth in 2001).

Servia will be making his fifth start with PKV Racing this weekend. In the four races this year, he has qualified in the top-10 four times starting seventh at Milwaukee and Monterrey, Mexico and eighth at Long Beach and Houston. After being the victim of on-track incidents in the first two races of the season, the 31-year-old Spaniard, has had back-to-back top-10 performances finishing eighth in Monterrey to go with a season high fifth in Milwaukee. Servia currently sits 12th in the championship standings with 48 points.

Now in his seventh Champ Car season, Servia is competing in his 103rd career Champ Car event. In

102 Champ Car starts, Servia, has earned 53 top-ten finishes including 26 top-five showings, 12 podium performances and one victory (Montreal 2005). The resident of Miami, Florida who has finished in the top-10 in the standings the last three years, is coming off his best Champ Car season after placing second last year.

Legge was 15th on the speed charts in the morning practice with a time of 60.839 seconds (116.215 mph). During the afternoon warm-up, she also lost a bit of time due to the slower track notching a quick lap of 61.435 seconds (115.087), which placed her 14th for the session, but dropped her to 16th on the on the combined report. In qualifying, the Bell Micro -- PKV Racing team continued its practice of using provisional qualifying as another test session. As a result Legge ran longer stints than her teammate and in the end it paid off. Legge turned eight laps on her first stint running a quick time of 60.051 seconds, which was good for 11th when she came in for a change of tires. Going back out with six minutes remaining in the session she too fell victim to the red flag, but using her final three laps to full advantage Legge broke the 60 second mark for the first time of the day on her last lap.

"Of course I am not happy qualifying 14, but as usual the Bell Micro -- PKV Racing team treated provisional qualifying like another practice session," Legge explained. "We had a good car here in Portland during the test in April, but today it did not feel like the same car. So we continued to work on the setup during provisional qualifying and I think we made some improvement. The thing that gives me hope is that we know the direction we need to go to make the car better," she noted. "I have every confidence in the Bell Micro -- PKV Racing team that we will get it sorted out for tomorrow," Legge concluded.

Legge, who is in her first Champ Car season, will be making her fifth career Champ Car start and first in Portland (although she raced there twice last year in the Atlantic Championship Series starting seventh and finishing ninth in the first race and starting 10th and finishing third in the second).

The 25-year-old Brit has qualified eighth, 15th and 17th twice in her first four Champ Car events. However, she has been much more competitive in the races. She placed a season high sixth at Milwaukee, eighth in her Champ Car debut at Long Beach, was headed for another top-10 finish, when she was hit by another competitor and eventually placed 14th in Houston, and was 14th again in Monterrey after a questionable penalty was accessed for blocking while she was running 13th. Legge is currently 11th in the championship standings with 49 points. The resident of Indianapolis, Indiana is second in the Champ Car rookie points race just one point behind Power.

Legge, who became the first female to start a Champ Car/CART race since Lyn St. James at Michigan in 1995, when she made her Champ Car debut at Long Beach, has established a number of Series records already this season. In Milwaukee, she became the first female to lead a race when she held the top spot for 12 laps in her oval debut. In addition, her sixth place finish at Milwaukee set a new Series high for a female (her eighth place showing in Long Beach gives her two best finishes) surpassing a ninth place finish by Janet Guthrie at the 1978 Indianapolis 500. Legge had a standout rookie season in the Atlantic Championship Series in 2005 winning three races in route to a third place finish in the standings. Her win in her debut Atlantic event at Long Beach made her the first woman to win a major open-wheel race in North America.

PKV Racing will be making its sixth and seventh starts in four racings at Portland International Raceway. The team has qualified in the top-10 three times with a best starting position of eighth by Jimmy Vasser last year. They have finished in the top-10 four times including a win by Cristiano da Matta last year, the first and only in PKV Racing three plus year history. The win, along with a sixth place showing by Vasser is the best combined finish in team history.

PKV Racing is coming off its best performance of the season. Two weeks ago in Milwaukee, Servia and Legge had their best combined qualifying effort, starting seventh and eighth (first time this year both cars have qualified in the top-10), and best combined finish placing fifth and sixth (first time this year both cars in top-10) of the 2006 season. In the process both drivers established season highs and in the case of Legge, career bests, for qualifying and finishing position.

There will be a practice session tomorrow morning at 10:15 a.m. followed by final qualifying at 1:45 p.m. The G. I. Joe's Presents The Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland, Round #5 of the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, will be run June 16-18, at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon. The race will be broadcast live on CBS at 3:30 p.m. (ET).

-pkv racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Oriol Servia , Lyn St. James , Katherine Legge , Janet Guthrie , Cristiano da Matta