CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: Minardi Team USA race report

DOORNBOS SCORES FOURTH PLACE FINISH IN OZ Surfers Paradise, Australia (October 21, 2007) -- It was another exciting race in Surfers today for the 2007 Lexmark Indy 300, and despite starting the race at the back of the grid (in 14th), Minardi...

DOORNBOS SCORES FOURTH PLACE FINISH IN OZ

Surfers Paradise, Australia (October 21, 2007) -- It was another exciting race in Surfers today for the 2007 Lexmark Indy 300, and despite starting the race at the back of the grid (in 14th), Minardi Team USA driver Robert Doornbos rebounded to score a top-four finish. He nearly came home with another podium but in the end finished fourth. For team-mate 'Speedy' Dan Clarke, his race began very well, moving up from tenth to eighth, but his ended after only twelve laps due to suspension damage and was ultimately classified 17th.

Robert has been struggling a bit all weekend, but the young Dutchman redeemed himself today in the race, and showed once again that his place in the Championship is well deserved. He and his engineers took advantage of the early yellow, and put Robert on a pit sequence that found him up front. He led lap 11 through 18, and was doing a brilliant job saving fuel and still turning competitive lap times. After Robert made his final pit stop, he was chasing Bruno Junqueira, and then realized he was struggling to keep up with the Brazilian. It was later determined that the engine had a broken valve spring, which cost valuable horsepower, but Robert managed to protect his position and bring home the fourth place finish. He has clinched the Rookie of the Year title and sits third in Championship points, with 261 (9 behind Wilson and 27 ahead of Power).

Robert Doornbos

"First off, I have to thank all the boys, the whole team, and especially my engineers for their terrific strategy getting me up to the front for a strong finish. I was giving it 110% every lap, and we had good pit stops and it's a great way to finish the weekend. We had an engine problem at the end, so we were definitely down on power, otherwise we could have had another podium. I'm happy to be Rookie of the Year and in the top three in points right now. Our target is second place, and we'll give it a run in Mexico."

'Speedy' Dan knew he had a strong race car today. He and his engineers have been working diligently all weekend, and knew they had the car today to run at the front. Dan had a good start, and had moved up two spots as the field was still running in a very tight pack. Dan made a move on Neel Jani heading into the chicane, but decided to give way to Jani and avoid contact. In doing so, he overshot the corner and clipped the tire barrier. Due to irreparable damage, he was forced to retire. Dan has been steadily improving all year, with some impressive performances, but his season has been plagued with gremlins most of the year. It's not too late to finish on a good note, and unquestionably the Englishman has his sights set on Mexico and beyond to 2008. He's got a lot of enthusiasm for Champ Car, and is a personality both on and off the track that will surely be putting on a show for quite some time.

'Speedy' Dan Clarke

"It's really frustrating that we don't get to race more, with the long breaks between events. We're really gelling well together as a team and I'm anxious to be on track more often than we are. It's difficult to carry the positive momentum that we've been developing when you have these seven week gaps. We had a good car today, and we're developing as a team. I am confident that we'll do well in Mexico, and hopefully lift this hex that has been following us all year."

Keith Wiggins Team Co-Owner

"Throughout the weekend, we weren't as competitive as we could have been. There was good potential with Dan, but unfortunately we just couldn't capitalize on it. With Robert, a good strategy made for a good result and some valuable points, which hopefully we'll achieve again at the season finale. We want to end the season the way we began."

Paul Stoddart, Team Co-Owner

"It was a good team effort today. Robert came in fourth, which consolidates his third position in the Championship, and solidifies his Rookie of the Year title. It was disappointing for Dan today, as his race ended with an incident resulting in suspension and steering damage which proved terminal. It's onwards to Mexico now, and hopefully add another podium to finish the season off with."

-credit: mtusa

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Paul Stoddart , Robert Doornbos , Neel Jani , Dan Clarke