CHAMPCAR/CART: Road America: PKV Racing race report

PKV RACING PLACES BOTH CARS IN TOP-10 AT GENERAC CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX GOMMENDY SEVENTH, JANI 10TH ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN -- SUNDAY, AUGUST 12, 2007 -- Round ...

PKV RACING PLACES BOTH CARS IN TOP-10 AT GENERAC CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX

GOMMENDY SEVENTH, JANI 10TH

ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN -- SUNDAY, AUGUST 12, 2007 -- Round #10 -- 2007 Champ Car World Series season -- PKV Racing placed both cars in the top-10 for the second race in a row and the third time this season as Tristan Gommendy placed seventh and Neel Jani 10th today in the Generac Champ Car Grand Prix on the legendary and picturesque 4.048-mile, 14-turn Road America permanent road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

Gommendy, #22 Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone car, drove a solid race and got outstanding pit work from his crew to earn his fourth top-10 finish of the season.

The 27-year-old a resident of Paris, France, who has a best showing of fifth this year, is 12th in the championship standings with 112 points and 26 points out of tenth place. He is fifth in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year race.

Jani, in the #21 Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone machine, drove a strong race running in sixth for most of the contest, but lost out when a strategy gamble failed to pay off and he was forced to pit with three laps remaining for a splash of fuel. Jani has now finished in the top-10 eight times in the 10 races this season with three podiums, season high seconds in Toronto and San Jose, where he led his first Champ Car laps, plus a third in Cleveland. The 23-year-old native of Jens, Switzerland, who holds the PKV Racing team record for most podium finishes in a season, is seventh in the championship standings with 167 points, but is just three points from fifth place. He is third in the Rookie of the Year race.

Gommendy, who started 11th, got a good start to the race jumping to ninth. He fell pack to 12th soon after, but battled his way back up to ninth by the first pit stop. In the hunt for a top-10 finish from the drop of the green flag Gommendy kept his nose clean the entire race, benefited from superior work by his Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing crew on all three of his pit stops and passed Justin Wilson towards the end of the race to tie his second highest finish of the season.

"I had a good start to the race, but the car was quite difficult to drive during the first two or three laps, so I lost back some positions," Gommendy said. "I had a good race with (Jan) Heylen. We both managed the fuel and kept a good pace, but on the last stint, after five laps it was impossible to follow him. After that I fought with (Justin) Wilson. That was fun, but at the end of the race I had trouble because I flat spotted by tires overtaking Wilson," he noted. Gommendy concluded by saying, "We finished the race, make some points and continue to work to improve the car. Hopefully, we can have better runs in Europe."

Jani, who started seventh, was running in sixth when he pitted, mainly to switch from the Bridgestone alternate (red) tire to the primary (black) tire two laps before his first scheduled stop. He rejoined the race in 14th place, but was back up to ninth by the end of the first round of stops. He continued to swing between the low teens and just out of the top-five depending on the pit sequence, but mainly ran insixth place versus the lead cars. Unfortunately, the race went another 40 laps without a yellow flag which would have given Jani the two lap fuel savings he needed to finish the event. Therefore, on lap 50 of the 53 lap contest he pitted for a final two second splash of fuel. The extra stop dropped him from a potential top-six, maybe top-five finish to 10th.

"It was a tough race for the Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing team," Jani said. "I had a good start. I was passed by (Alex) Tagliani, but then (Graham) Rahal pulled in front of me and I had to get off the throttle, so a couple of the guys passed me dropping me back to seventh. Then I was struggling big time on the red tires. I just couldn't hold pace because I was sliding around. So we decided to come in two laps earlier than normal," he explained. "On the Bridgestone primary black tire I was able to keep pace, so I was able to maintain my position. I ran in sixth place for a long time. But, unfortunately because we came in two laps early on the first stint we had to come in before the end for fuel again," Jani noted. "We hoped for a yellow, but it went 40 laps without one. Once more when we really needed a yellow it didn't come. Hopefully, we will get one before the end of the season. It was a disappointing day in the end. We hoped to get a lot of points today and in the end we just got a few."

Jani has been on a tremendous run over the five races leading into Road America. In addition to the three podium performances, the streak has included a sixth place showing in Mont-Tremblant and a ninth place finish in Edmonton, where Jani was running in fourth when the car stalled in the pits dropping him to the back of the field. Jani's other top-10 showings are a seventh at Long Beach and a 10th's here in Elkhart Lake and Las Vegas. Fueling problems in Long Beach and a mechanical failure in Las Vegas prevented top-five finishes at those two events. Jani was also looking at a top-five showing in Houston, but was knocked from the competition while running fourth and eventually finished 15th. Only in Portland, where he finished 12th, but was running as high as eighth, has Jani not been in contention. Jani's qualifying record has been consistent. He has now qualified in the top-10 eight times in ten attempts, with a season best starting position of fourth in Houston. In addition to the fourth place starting position in Houston, he has qualified fifth in Edmonton and San Jose, sixth in Mont-Tremblant, seventh here at Road America, ninth in Las Vegas and Toronto plus 10th in Portland (11th in Cleveland and Long Beach). A veteran of European open wheel racing, Jani whose father hails from India, has been a member of the Red Bull driver development program since 2005 and was a test driver for the Scuderia Toro Rosso in Formula One Team in 2006.

Gommendy had been struggling prior to finishing seventh today and eighth in San Jose. Other than a pole at Mont-Tremblant, which was nullified when his car experienced an electrical problem and failed to start, he had DNF'd in two events before sitting out the Edmonton race due to a back injury. As a result, Gommendy, who was ninth in the championship and just 13 points out of fifth prior to Cleveland, fell to 13th before picking up one place based on the San Jose performance. Today's performance left him in 12th, but narrowed his gap to 10th from 30 to 26 points. In addition to today's seventh place finish and the season high fifth in Vegas, Gommendy has placed seventh in Portland, eighth in San Jose, 11th at Long Beach, 12th in Mont-Tremblant after finally getting started, 13th at Houston and Cleveland plus a 15th place finish at Toronto. At both Long Beach and Houston, Gommendy engaged in spirited battles for the lead with three-time Series Champion Sebastien Bourdais before making late race stops for fuel. Gommendy has now qualified in the top-10 five times in nine attempts (did not qualify in Edmonton due to injury) this year with the one pole. He has qualified fifth in Portland, eighth in Houston and San Jose plus ninth in Long Beach to go with the pole in Mont-Tremblant, just the second pole in PKV Racing history and first on a road course (made him just the third Champ Car rookie to capture a pole since 2001). He started 11th in Las Vegas as he will here in Elkhart Lake; 12th in Cleveland and 14th in Toronto. Gommendy, also a veteran of European open wheel racing, won the 2002 Formula 3 France championship and the prestigious Formula 3 Macau GP race also in 2002.

PKV Racing made its sixth and seventh starts while contesting its fourth race at Road America. The team has now qualified in the top-10 three times in seven attempts with a best starting position of third by Jimmy Vasser in 2004. They have finished in the top-10 five times in their seven starts with a best showing of fourth by Max Papis in 2004 and Oriol Servia last year.

For the season PKV Racing drivers have now qualified in the top-10 a total of 13 times in 19 attempts (#22 car did not qualify in Edmonton) with one pole, by Gommendy at Mont-Tremblant. They have finished in the top-10 12 times with the three podiums all by Jani. Both drivers have finished in the top-10 three (Today, seventh and 10th; Jani, second and Gommendy, eighth in San Jose; Gommendy, 5th and Jani, seventh in their Champ Car debuts at the season opening Grand Prix of Las Vegas).

Next up for PKV Racing is the Grand Prix of Zolder, August 24-26, on the Zolder permanent road circuit in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium. The Grand Prix of Zolder, Round #11 of the 2007 Champ Car World Series season, will be televised same day tape delayed on ESPN Classic at 1:00 p.m. (ET). For more information please visit: www.pkvracing.com

-credit: pkv

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Jimmy Vasser , Max Papis , Oriol Servia , Sébastien Bourdais , Neel Jani , Tristan Gommendy
Teams Toro Rosso , HART