CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: Rocketsports Racing Saturday report

SURFERS PARADISE, Australia (October 23, 2004) -- The final qualifying session for the Lexmark Indy 300 resulted in a top-ten start for Alex Tagliani and a frustrating 18th spot for Guy Smith today in Surfers Paradise, Australia. Tagliani and...

SURFERS PARADISE, Australia (October 23, 2004) -- The final qualifying session for the Lexmark Indy 300 resulted in a top-ten start for Alex Tagliani and a frustrating 18th spot for Guy Smith today in Surfers Paradise, Australia. Tagliani and Smith both stayed clear of any contact on the challenging 2.79 mile street course, but struggled to get maximum speed and a spot at the front of the starting grid for Round Thirteen of the Champ Car World Series.

The No.8 Johnson Controls Lola came in at 1:35.258 (105.629 mph, 169.993 km/h) in the first qualifying session (on Friday), which secured Alex Tagliani's tenth-place position in the fifth row of the grid. "I'm disappointed to have to start in the middle of the grid for the Indy, but I've moved ahead from the back in past races and hope to have another decent finish tomorrow," said Tagliani, eager for a better start position. "We were quick here in 2003, but we're struggling to get better grip and can't be as aggressive as we were then. It's also been tougher to deal with the changes to the tires in the chicanes than last year. It's a difficult circuit to pass on, but I'll do my best to get the No. 8 Johnson Controls a strong finish."

Guy Smith landed in 18th spot on the grid, and while the 2003 Le Mans 24 Hours victor is frustrated with his starting position, he's avoided incidents and learned the ins and outs of the demanding street circuit. "The Rocketsports crew made improvements to the shifting of the No.17 car and it ran better today. Between two red flags and traffic it was difficult to get the maximum from the car and a good lap. I've learned the course, and it's challenging to maneuver at speed, but I've managed to steer clear of trouble and hope for the same in the race tomorrow," concluded Smith, who bettered his first qualifying effort and clocked a time of 1:36.943 (103.793 mph, 167.038 km/h) in the No.17 Rocketsports Lola.

Catch Smith and Tagliani in the Lexmark Indy 300 on Spike TV on Sunday, October 24, at 4:00 PM (ET).

-rsr-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Guy Smith