CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: PKV Racing race report

MECHANICAL FAILURE DASHES PKV RACING'S HOPES FOR VICTORY AT LEXMARK INDY 300 SURFERS PARADISE, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA -- SUNDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2006 -- Round ...

MECHANICAL FAILURE DASHES PKV RACING'S HOPES FOR VICTORY AT LEXMARK INDY 300

SURFERS PARADISE, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA -- SUNDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2006 -- Round #13 -- 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing's Oriol Servia had his hopes of a victory dashed by a mechanical failure today at the Lexmark Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia. Teammate Katherine Legge battled adversity all day and finish 15th.

Servia, who pilots the #6 Gulfstream -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine, took the lead in a crash filled race on lap 31 and appeared to be in control, but a mechanical problem made it impossible for him to defend his position and eventual knocked him from the competition. Legge, #20 Bell Micro -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, battled throughout the race, but eventually succumbed to a spin in Turn #2.

Servia, who started sixth, dropped to seventh early in the race, but began to climb back through the field following his first pit stop on lap 15. Driving a smart, patient race and benefiting from the mistakes of other competitors, he found himself setting in first place on lap 31. However, just prior to taking the lead, Servia began to experience a mechanical problem which prevented him from using fifth gear After holding the top spot for four laps, Servia was unable to defend his position and started dropping through the field . He was sitting in 10th place when he made his second pit stop on lap 38 and five laps later Champ Car officials black flagged him on lap 43 for spray.

"I know it is racing, but this is hard especially because the Gulfstream -- PKV Racing car was running so well," Servia began. "Everything seemed to be going our way. People were crashing--the car was getting really good. Even when I was behind Sebastien (Bourdais) I felt my car was faster than his car. Then the team told me to save some fuel and we were still able to keep up the pace. I knew both Will Power and Sebastien wanted to win this race, so I could see there could be some trouble there and there was. Then I lost fifth gear in a very strange way and in a way you would never think. So it was not meant to happen," he said. "I am just very happy that we were up there competing with the top drivers. The Gulfstream -- PKV Racing team just has to keep pushing and see if we can end the season on a good note," Servia concluded.

Servia made his his seventh start on the 2.795-mile, 11-turn Surfers Paradise downtown street circuit today. He has finished in the top-10 twice placing a career best fifth last year and ninth in 2000. Servia has qualified in the top-10 four times in seven attempts at Surfers with one pole, the first and only of his Champ Car career, which he earned last year.

Servia, who was making his 13th start for PKV Racing, now sits in 11th place in the championship standings with 178 points. With just one race remaining in the 2006 season, mathematically the best he can finish is sixth in the standings. He has finished in the top-10 in seven of the 13 races this year including four top-five showings and the team's only podium performance of the season a third place finish in Cleveland. In addition to the podium, and the fourth place showing at Road America, Servia has finished fourth in Edmonton, fifth in Milwaukee, eighth in Monterrey and San Jose and 10th in Portland. In each of the six races he has not placed in the top-10, he DNF'ed (did not finish) only once due to pilot error and all six times he was running in the top-five when he went out of the race. The native of Catalunya, Spain has qualified in the top-10 in 11 of the 13 races with five top-five starting spots. His qualifying record to date is one short of the team record for top-10 starting spots in a season, set by Jimmy Vasser and Cristiano da Matta both in 2005, and one short of the team record for top-five starting positions in a season, set by da Matta also last year. Servia holds the team record for consecutive top-five starting spots with four, having qualified a season high fourth in Cleveland, fifth in Edmonton, Toronto and San Jose.

Servia, who is competing in his seventh Champ Car season, made his 111th career start this weekend. He has earned 58 top-ten finishes including 29 top-five showings, 13 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 placing second last year.

Legge, who qualified 16th spun early in the race and went a lap down. The team then pursued a strategy calculated to save fuel and play the yellow flags in an attempt to get her back on the lead lap. She continued to battle throughout the race and survived a couple of near misses before eventually spinning out on lap 44. Despite the difficult performance, Legge outlasted such competitors as A. J. Allmendinger and Dan Clarke to place 15th.

"Obviously it has been a very difficult weekend for the Bell Micro -- PKV Racing team," Legge said. "We had the engine problem on Friday that limited the amount of track time I got, than today it was one thing after another on the track. The team did a great job all weekend. The crew has worked very hard, so I am especially disappointed for them. After we went down a lap at the beginning of the race we tried a strategy to save fuel and get the lap back. The crew did a great job in the pits, but things just didn't work out for us today," she explained. "The Bell Micro -- PKV Racing team will just keep working hard and try and finish the season in Mexico City with a good result," Legge concluded.

Legge, a rookie, who returned to competition following her horrific crash at Road America, made her first start in Australia and 13th career Champ Car start. The native of Britain has earned four top-10 finishes in her first 12 races placing a season, and career, high sixth at Milwaukee, eighth in her Champ Car debut at Long Beach eighth in Cleveland and ninth in Denver. She has qualified in the top-10 twice in 13 attempts this year (eighth on the oval in Milwaukee and on the Road America road course). The resident of Indianapolis, Indiana is third in laps completed and tenth in laps led. Legge is 16th in the championship standings and fifth in the rookie standings with 128 points. Mathematically she can finish as high as 13th in the championship race and third in the rookie competition.

PKV Racing made its sixth and seventh starts and contesting its fourth race in Surfers Paradise. The team has now finished in the top-10 once with Vasser finishing third last year. They have qualified in the top-10 five times with a best starting position of fourth by Cristiano da Matta in 2005.

Next up for PKV Racing is the Gran Premio de Mexico, Round #14 and the finale of the 2006 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, October 20-22, at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez in Mexico City, Mexico. The race will be broadcast live on SPEED Channel.

-credit: pkv racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Oriol Servia , Katherine Legge , Will Power , Cristiano da Matta , Dan Clarke