CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland: PKV Racing Friday report

PKV RACING PROVISIONALLY QUALIFIES BOTH DRIVERS IN TOP-10 FOR MAZDA GRAND PRIX OF PORTLAND GOMMENDY FIFTH ON PROVISIONAL GRID, JANI 10TH PORTLAND, OREGON -- FRIDAY, JUNE 8, 2007 -- Round ...

PKV RACING PROVISIONALLY QUALIFIES BOTH DRIVERS IN TOP-10 FOR MAZDA GRAND PRIX OF PORTLAND
GOMMENDY FIFTH ON PROVISIONAL GRID, JANI 10TH

PORTLAND, OREGON -- FRIDAY, JUNE 8, 2007 -- Round #4 -- 2007 Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing provisionally qualified both cars in the top-10 for Sunday's Mazda Grand Prix of Portland Presented by Joe's Sports and Outdoor at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon.

Tristan Gommendy, driving the #22 Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone car, qualified fifth with a fast lap of 58.399 seconds (121.071 mph) on the challenging 1.964-mile, 12-turn PIR permanent road course. Teammate Neel Jani, in the #21 Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone machine, qualified 10th with a quick lap of 58.805 seconds (120.235 mph).

Gommendy was eighth on the speed charts following the morning practice posting a fast time of 59.033 seconds (119.770 mph). In the 15-minute afternoon pre-qualifying practice/warm-up, Gommendy gave a indication of things to come as he ended up fifth on the speed charts with a time of 59.366 seconds (119.094 mph), however the time left him eighth on the combined practice report. During qualifying it appeared after the first stint that the eighth position was where he would end up, however, following the second stint fifth proved to be his rightful spot. Gommendy, with his Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing machine shod in primary (black) Bridgestone Potenza tires, took to the track for his first run with 17 minutes left in the 30-minute qualifying session. He ran a six lap segment posting a fast time of 58.790 seconds on the third lap. After switching to the alternate (red) Bridgestone tires, Gommendy went out for his second segment with seven and half minutes remaining, ran five more circuits posting his quick lap on the third lap of the stint and ninth overall.

Commenting on the qualifying session Gommendy said, "The Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing car was good on new tires. The first two or three laps on the primary (black) tires were not bad. On the alternate (red) tire the car was quite good and that is when we did our fast lap. We need to continue to work and improve for tomorrow because if it stays dry everyone is going to be faster. We also need to work on the car when we are on old tires especially for the race."

Gommendy, who entered the season with just one day of testing, has shown tremendous potential during the first three races of the 2007 season. The talented and personable Frenchmen has qualified in the top-10 twice, earned a fifth place finish in his Champ Car debut at Las Vegas and at both Long Beach and Houston engaged in spirited battles for the lead with three-time Series Champion Sebastien Bourdais before having to make late race stops for a splash of fuel.

Gommendy, while a Champ Car rookie is a veteran of European open wheel racing having won the 2002 Formula 3 France championship and 2002 Formula 3 Macau GP. The 27-year-old native of Paris, France, is ninth in the championship race with 39 points, 14 points out of fifth place, and third in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year race. Gommendy has finished fifth, 11th and 13th in his first three Champ Car events and qualified in the top-10 twice, starting 11th in Las Vegas, ninth in Long Beach and eighth in Houston. He is third in laps led, with 31, fifth in laps completed, with 231, and miles completed 462.479 also leaves him in fifth place.

Jani began the day with a strong morning practice recording the fifth fastest time of the session with a quick lap of 58.704 seconds (120.442). In the 15-minute afternoon warm-up, he fell to seventh on the speed charts with a fast time of 59.836 seconds (118.163 mph), however he remained fifth on the combined practice report based on his morning time. In qualifying, Jani ran three stints going out for the first time at the drop of the green flag. Running on the primary tire, he turned three laps notching a quick time of 59.765 second, which placed him third on the speed charts at the time. Jani went back out for his second segment, again on primary tires, with 18 minutes remaining and after turning six more laps (nine total) was ninth on the grid with a quick time of 58.890, which he posted on the third lap of the stint and sixth overall. Switching to the alternate tire for his final run, Jani went back out with seven minutes remaining and posted his fast qualifying lap again on the third of his six lap stint, his 12th out of 15 overall.

"It was a disappointing qualifying session for the Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing team especially after we did so well in morning practice," Jani said. "I thought we had a top-five car after this morning, so obviously I am not happy with being 10th. It is strange. I don't know what went wrong. The Red Bull PKV Racing team is just going to have to go back, look at the data and figure out what happened."

Jani, who appeared on the verge of a breakout performance in Houston where he qualified a team season high fourth and was running fourth when he was knocked out of the contest, is looking to establish himself as a championship contender this weekend in Portland. The 23-yer-old native of Jens, Switzerland, who has been a member of the Red Bull driver development program since 2005 and was a test driver for the Scuderia Toro Rosso Formula One Team in 2006, is currently 14th in the championship standings with 34 points and sixth in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year standings. He is just four points out of 10th place and 19 out of fifth. Jani, whose father hails from India, has finished in the top-10 in two of his three starts this year placing 10th at the season opener in Las Vegas, where a mechanical problem in the later stages of the race prevented a better showing, seventh in Long Beach where a solid pit strategy worked, but he was hindered by a fueling problem and 16th in Houston following the incident with Katherine Legge. Jani has qualified in the top-10 twice in three attempts. In addition to the fourth place starting spot in Houston, he qualified ninth at Las Vegas and 11th in Long Beach. Jani is tied for ninth in laps completed with 201 and is ninth in miles completed with 402.906.

PKV Racing will be making their eighth and ninth starts while contesting their fifth race in Portland. PKV Racing drivers have qualified in the top-10 three times in seven previous attempts with a best qualifying position of eighth by Jimmy Vasser in 2005. The team has finished in the top-10 five times with one win by Cristiano da Matta also in 2005.

There will be a practice session tomorrow morning at 10:15 a.m. followed by final qualifying at 2:00 p.m. The Mazda Grand Prix of Portland, Round #4 of the 2007 Champ Car World Series season, will be held on Sunday, June 10, at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon. The race will be broadcast live on ABC at 4:00 p.m. ET.

-credit: pkv

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Sébastien Bourdais , Katherine Legge , Neel Jani , Tristan Gommendy , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Toro Rosso