CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland: PKV Racing Saturday report

PKV RACING QUALIFIES 12th and 15th FOR CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF PORTLAND PORTLAND, OREGON -- SATURDAY, JUNE 17, 2006 -- Round ...

PKV RACING QUALIFIES 12th and 15th FOR CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF PORTLAND

PORTLAND, OREGON -- SATURDAY, JUNE 17, 2006 -- Round #5 -- 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing drivers Oriol Servia and Katherine Legge qualified 12th and 15th respectively for tomorrow's Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland presented by G. I. Joe's at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon.

Servia, #6 Gulfsteam -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, turned in a fast lap of 58.830 seconds (120.184 mph) and will start on the outside of row six. Legge, #20 Bell Micro -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, logged a lap of 59.297 seconds (119.237 mph) and will start on the inside of row eight.

Servia, who was forced into his backup car when his primary car was damage in yesterday morning's practice, provisionally qualified the backup ninth on Friday with a quick time of 59.485 seconds (118.860 mph). During this morning's practice the 31-year-old Catalonian and his Gulfstream -- PKV Racing crew worked to improve the setup on the backup machine picking up over .3 of a second on the challenging 1.969-mile, 12-turn Portland International Raceway permanent road course. His fast lap in morning practice came in at 59.151 seconds (119.531 mph), which put him ninth on both the individual and combined practice reports. However, for the second day in a row Servia had an incident between Turns #11 and #12, which landed him in the tire barrier along the fence line. Once again, the Gulfstream -- PKV Racing crew flew into action. Using Legge's backup as a foundation the crew worked through the lunch hour putting together a final qualifying car in just under three hours. The team then spent the 15-minute afternoon pre-qualifying/warm-up fine tuning the setup on the backup, backup car. Servia's fastest lap in the warm-up came in at 60.929 seconds (116.043 mph), which placed him 15th on the speed charts for the session and dropped him to ninth on the combined report. But, the hard work on the part of the crew paid dividends in final qualifying as Servia rose to the occasion. Despite running a car that had been pieced together with spare parts, Servia still managed to run his fastest lap of the weekend. Heading so after the start of qualifying, Servia ran a fast lap of 59.516 seconds, which placed him seventh at the end of his first stint. He was sitting 16th on the grid when he began his second stint with 11 minutes left in the 30-minute qualifying session. Running the red, alternate Bridgestone tires, Servia chopped almost .7 of a second off his time, which put him under 59.0 seconds for the first time during the weekend.

"The Gulfstream -- PKV Racing team was hoping for a miracle after the setback we had this morning, but it just wasn't the day for miracles," Servia noted. "Qualifying 12th is, obviously, not what we wanted, but last year PKV Racing won this race starting 10th, so we can still have a good race tomorrow if we improve the car. The other thing is the fuel windows are very big for this race, so you can use a lot of different pit strategies and that could work in our favor," he explained. "The main thing is to continue to work on this car, the third car of the weekend, make it better and we will be fine in the race," Servia concluded.

Servia will be making his sixth start in Portland, fifth with PKV Racing and 103rd of his Champ Car career tomorrow. He has now qualified in the top-10 twice in six attempts at PIR 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).

This is the first time this year that Servia has not qualified in the top-10. In the four previous races he has qualified seventh twice (Milwaukee and Monterrey, Mexico) and eighth twice (Long Beach and Houston). After being the victim of on-track incidents in the first two races of the season, Servia has had back-to-back top-10 performances finishing eighth in Monterrey to go with a season high fifth in Milwaukee. He currently sits 12th in the championship standings with 48 points.

Servia, who is in his seventh Champ Car season 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 14th on the provisional grid with a time of 59.903 seconds (118.031 mph) following Friday's qualifying. In morning practice the 25-year-old Brit clocked a quick lap of 59.928 seconds (117.982 mph) placing her 14th on the individual speed charts and 15th on the combined report. During the afternoon warm-up, she turned a fast lap of 60.456 seconds (116.951 mph), which put her 13th on the individual practice report (her highest position of the weekend) and left her 15th on the combined report. Legge went out at the drop of the green flag for final qualifying. She ran a fast lap of 60.196 seconds during her first stint, which put her ninth on the grid when she pitted. Returning to the track with 15 minutes left in the session she was in 16th place, but then proceeded to run her fastest lap of the weekend, which moved her up a notch.

"The Bell Micro -- PKV Racing team is disappointed," Legge began. "What makes it more disappointing is that we had such a good car at the test here in April. We thought it would be the same this weekend and it is not," she noted. "The whole team has worked very hard this weekend, but we still have a lot of work to do. We are going to have to sit down and figure out the right direction to go with the car. The good news is we have a practice tonight, so we have a chance to make the changes we need. Then we can come back stronger in the race tomorrow."

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 now qualified eighth, 15th twice and 17th twice in her first five Champ Car events. However, she has been much more competitive in the races. Legge 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 now 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). In the process both drivers established season highs and in the case of Legge, career bests, for qualifying and finishing position.

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