CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: Rocketsports Racing Friday notes

An Unforgiving Track and New Rule Cause a Rough Start for Rocketsports Racing's Tagliani Down Under SURFERS PARADISE, Queensland, Australia (October 19, 2007) - The Surfers Paradise, Australia street circuit is one of the most challenging ...

An Unforgiving Track and New Rule Cause a Rough Start for Rocketsports Racing's Tagliani Down Under

SURFERS PARADISE, Queensland, Australia (October 19, 2007) - The Surfers Paradise, Australia street circuit is one of the most challenging and unforgiving tracks on the Champ Car World Series schedule, add that with a new Champ Car Friday-qualifying rule, and that equals a bad day for Rocketsports Racing and driver Alex Tagliani today during the first day of on-track activity Down Under.

Tagliani was sitting in the second spot on the Champ Car timing and scoring sheet this morning after recording only three laps with a time of 1:35.709. Just after improving his lap time to record a 1:34.167 (106.835 mph/171.962 km/h) on his seventh orbit which moved him back to P2, Tagliani hit the curb when exiting Turn 1 and brushed the wall. A broken front-left suspension from the contact would end the French Canadian's first practice session on the streets of Surfers Paradise too early. The damage was repairable, as the #8 Rocketsports crew worked hard to get the car back together and ready to run for the first round of qualifying in Australia this afternoon.

For this event, the number of timed laps that each driver completed in the first 40 minutes of the Friday morning practice session would be the maximum number of laps that the driver is allowed to complete in the Friday afternoon qualifying segment. This provision overrides the usual 15-lap Champ Car maximum. Based on that ruling, and because of his early incident, Tagliani was only allotted five qualifying laps during the provisional qualifying segment this afternoon.

Because of that, the team opted to go out later in the provisional qualifying segment. On Tagliani's third lap around the 2.795-mile street course, he pushed extra hard to record a quick time knowing he only had a few laps to do it. As he shot through the chicane in Turn 1, he was pushing a little too hard. After hitting the curb, he started to slide, then spun, but did not make contact. It was a short afternoon, just as it was a short morning for the team.

The best time he was able to record during the provisional qualifying segment was a 3:20.825 (50.103 mph), which put him in the 16th spot. Disappointed in what turned out to be a day of logging only 11 laps, the team is hopeful that tomorrow will be a better, more productive day.

There will be another practice session on Saturday morning, with the final round of qualifying to follow at 1:55 p.m. Australian EST (11:55 p.m., Friday, ET USA). The Lexmark Indy 300 will take the green flag on Sunday, October 21, at 1:35 p.m. local time (11:35 p.m., Saturday, ET USA).

Alex Tagliani #8 PBS Equities/Rocketsports Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone

"It was not a very good day for us during our first on-track day in Surfers Paradise. This morning, with this new rule of having to do a certain number of laps during the first forty-minutes of practice and those laps would become the number laps that we are allowed to do during qualifying this afternoon ultimately hurt us. As soon as I tapped the wall during the morning practice, we only had completed seven laps, so we had very few laps allotted in qualifying. Then there was a red flag just before we were going to head out for our run in the provisional qualifying segment, which pushed everyone to go out at the same time towards the end of the session. Knowing there was going to be a lot of traffic, we were worried that we were not going to have the chance to get in a good lap, so I pushed a little bit too hard and did not have the time to get the car fully sorted out. So, I lost it over the curb in the same chicane that I lost it in this morning. I didn't damage anything, but we didn't get a good lap recorded this afternoon. So we will start from scratch tomorrow and hopefully have a better day and more time on-track."

-credit: rsr

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Tagliani