Rodolfo Lavin (R), ...
Rodolfo Lavin (R), #5 Corona Competition Team Ford-Cosworth XFE-Reynard-Bridgestone
A gear selection problem in the first two laps of Friday morning's first practice session resulted in gearbox damage to the #5 Corona car. CART's rules regarding the restricted use of the back-up car eliminated the team's option to switch cars as the primary #5 machine was repairable; however time was insufficient to fix the gearbox. As a result Lavin only turned two laps during the morning sessions. The Corona crew did change the complete gearbox assembly to eliminate any doubt in the reliability of the gearbox in time for the qualifying warm-up session. Lavin circled the track just two laps during the short session to insure the gearbox functioned properly. As Lavin did not have enough time to learn the circuit, the #5 car did not take the track during qualifying as to not interfere with others' qualifying efforts.
"It's a disappointing way to start the weekend, but I think we made the right decision. I simply did not have enough laps to learn the track. I don't know the braking zones, the apexes or how the car was going to handle. Rather than try to learn the track during qualifying, hopefully the car will be OK mechanically and we can start fresh tomorrow."
Will mark his 18th Champ Car start and first trip to Australia, Earned Champ Car career-best start of eighth at Germany (11 May) and career-best finish of eighth at Vancouver (27 July)
Darren Manning, (R), #15 RAC Walker Racing Ford-Cosworth XFE-Reynard-Bridgestone
"I've been in Australia for a little over a week now having a great time, but I was ready to get back to work today. This is a difficult track to learn in a short amount of time, especially with limited data. It takes a while to develop confidence over the curbs. You spend a lot of time in the air. We still have a lot (of speed) to come through the chicane in getting the RAC Walker Racing car better over the curbs. We were debating between two changes for the car on that last outing in qualifying and we chose the wrong one, but at least have a better direction for tomorrow."
Will mark his 19th Champ Car start, Has scored championship points in 15 of 17 events this season including earning points in the last ten consecutive races, Made Champ Car history in Denver (31 August) by becoming the first rookie driver to string together eight consecutive top-ten finishes, Has 14 top-ten finishes to his credit in just 17 starts in 2003, Currently ranked tenth in the championship points standings with 87 points, Ranked second in the Rookie of the Year standings