CONTRASTING FORTUNES San Jose, CA (July 28, 2007) -- It was what might best be termed an unpredictable day for Minardi Team USA drivers 'Speedy' Dan Clarke and Robert Doornbos, as they took part in the final practice and qualifying sessions...
San Jose, CA (July 28, 2007) -- It was what might best be termed an unpredictable day for Minardi Team USA drivers 'Speedy' Dan Clarke and Robert Doornbos, as they took part in the final practice and qualifying sessions for Sunday's San Jose Grand Prix. 'Speedy' Dan turned the second quickest time of the qualifying session, just five-hundredths of a second short of the pole time, and starts third in tomorrow's race. Unfortunately, the day wasn't so positive for Robert Doornbos, who starts fifteenth.
This marks 'Speedy' Dan's best starting position of the 2007 season. The young Briton has been quick all weekend, and feels comfortable with the challenging San Jose circuit. He started ninth last year, and was running second until a mechanical failure ended his race. Straight away this weekend, 'Speedy' once again knew he had the pace to be at the top of the charts. As is often the case, it came down to the final lap of the session, and with a clean track ahead of him, Dan was able to put down a time that would hold up for second.
'Speedy' Dan Clarke
"I'm happy for today's result, and happy to be starting third for the race tomorrow. I've had a lot of challenges to deal with this year, but things are finally going our way, and after Edmonton we've picked up some momentum. We ran well here in San Jose last year, I like the track, and have good feelings about this weekend. We have a good car, I feel good, and I still have two good feet. (a reference to Dan kicking a tire after retiring from last year's race while running in second place) Starting in the top three tomorrow, it allows you to do what you want to do in the race: really work on strategy and not get tripped up by too many people. I'm grateful to all my crew for their help in this, my best starting position thus far this season."
The second fastest time of the Saturday morning practice session meant Robert's prospects looked good for qualifying, but things didn't go quite as well as they might have for the young Dutchman, who is currently in second place in the Champ Car standings. Robert simply couldn't find any grip on the softer, Red "Option" tires -- a problem with which a number of other drivers also appeared to struggle today. It's clear Robert knows how to get on the podium - he has accomplished it in five of the first eight events of the season -- and with some racing luck and a good strategy, stands an excellent chance of recovering from his disappointing starting position.
"I don't know what happened in qualifying, but there just wasn't any grip. I kept hoping it was simply a case of waiting for the tire pressures to come up, but I drove around and around, and there was no improvement. It's a very disappointing result, as we were expecting to be on the front two rows of the grid, not the back two. Even back where we are, however, it's possible to do something in tomorrow's race, so now we'll try to understand what happened in qualifying and work on a good race strategy for tomorrow."
Keith Wiggins, Team Co-owner
"It's obviously a case of mixed feeling in the extreme today. We're very happy for Dan, as it's been on the cards, and he got it together this afternoon to produce an excellent qualifying performance. Robert looked equally ready to do something, but it just didn't happen for him. It's a bit of a mystery why at the moment, but as ever, I'm sure we'll work it out."
Paul Stoddart, Team Co-owner
"We're very happy for Dan, since this is exactly the result he needed. As for Robert, we simply did not find a balance in the car to allow him to put in the lap times of which we know he is capable. It will be tough starting from the back of the grid, but tomorrow is another day, and hopefully, race strategy will see Minardi Team USA score another podium finish."