CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland: PKV Racing preview

PKV RACING SEEKS TO DEFEND TITLE AT G. I. JOE'S PRESENTS THE CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF PORTLAND INDIANAPOLIS, IN - - JUNE 15, 2006 - - PKV Racing will try and pick up where it left off by defending its title at the G. I. Joe's presents the Champ...

PKV RACING SEEKS TO DEFEND TITLE AT G. I. JOE'S PRESENTS THE CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF PORTLAND

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - - JUNE 15, 2006 - - PKV Racing will try and pick up where it left off by defending its title at the G. I. Joe's presents the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland, this weekend at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon.

In 2005, after a solid outing at Milwaukee, where Jimmy Vasser scored the first and only pole in team history, Cristiano da Matta followed up with the team's first and only victory by taking the checkered flag at Portland. Vasser also had a strong event at Portland earning the teams best starting position on the 1.969-mile, 10-turn permanent road course, starting eighth, and then when on to finish sixth giving the team its best combined finish ever. PKV Racing once again comes to Portland with momentum following the best individual performances and combined effort of the 2006 season two weeks ago in Milwaukee.

In Milwaukee, Oriol Servia, #6 Gulfsteam -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone and Katherine Legge, #20 Bell Micro -- PKV Racing Ford Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, who was making her oval debut, combined to have their best 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) respectively, of the 2006 season. Both drivers established season highs and in the case of Legge, career bests, for qualifying and finishing position.

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). In addition to having her best performance of the season and of her short Champ Car career in Milwaukee, the 25-year-old native of Great Britain, led a race for the first time in her career thus becoming the first female in Champ Car history to lead a race.

Legge has qualified eighth, 15th and 17th twice in her first four Champ Car events. However, it has been in the races where she has shown the talent, determination and speed that led to her being promoted to Champ Cars after just one year of Atlantic competition. In addition to her sixth place showing at Milwaukee, Legge finished 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.

"I am looking forward to driving at Portland in a Champ Car," Legge said. "The Bell Micro -- PKV Racing team had a good test there back in April and we have improved the car since then. The team has done a fantastic job this season and I am excited about getting back a permanent road circuit again, which is the type of circuit I ran growing up," she noted. "I really want to have a good performance at Portland because it is Father's Day and my dad will be at the race. In addition, my mum with be attending her first Champ Car event, so I have a lot of extra incentive."

Legge, who seems to set a new Champ Car record every time she takes to the track, is a rising star in the Champ Car World Series. In addition to becoming the first female to lead a race, Legge became the first female to start a Champ Car/CART race since Lyn St. James at Michigan in 1995, when she took the green flag in Long Beach on April 9. Her sixth place showing in Milwaukee gives her the two best finishes (eighth in Long Beach) by a female in Series history surpassing a ninth place finish by Janet Guthrie at the 1978 Indianapolis 500 (Note: The Champ Car World Series record book includes USAC Champ Car events back to 1909). Legge had a standout rookie season in the Atlantic Championship Series in 2005. She won three races last year 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.

Servia will be making his fifth start with PKV Racing, sixth in Portland and 103rd of his Champ Car career this weekend.

In the four races this year, Servia 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 the fifth in Milwaukee. Servia currently sits 12th in the championship standings with 48 points.

In five previous races at PIR, Servia has qualified in the top-10 twice with a best starting position of sixth in 2003. 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).

"After having some back luck in the first two races of the season the Gulfstream -- PKV Racing team has had two good performances in the last two races," Servia said. "We are not where we want to be, but I think we have some momentum. The team has worked very hard this year to make the cars better and last year PKV Racing had good cars at Portland, so I am confident heading into this race," he explained. "I like the PIR circuit. It is challenging and has a nice combination of corners. I had some success my first three races here, but the last two years have been more difficult. I am looking forward to having a good race in Portland this year and moving up in the championship hunt."

Now in his seventh Champ Car season, Servia has now 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.

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 the win by da Matta.

PKV Racing co-owner/driver Jimmy Vasser, who earlier this year announced he would compete at Long Beach and selected other races during the 2006 season, remains on the sidelines in his other capacity as co-owner of PKV Racing. The 40-year-old native of California, who is technically in his 15th Champ Car season, made his 232nd career and 211 consecutive Champ Car start in Long Beach. His consecutive start streak came to a halt when he did not run in Houston.

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).

-www.pkvracing.com

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