CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto: PKV Racing preview

PKV RACING LOOKING FORWARD TO MOLSON INDY TORONTO STREET RACE INDIANAPOLIS, IN - - JULY 7, 2005 - - PKV Racing's Jimmy Vasser called it a "barometer" while teammate Cristiano da Matta thinks "it will be a good test", but both drivers are looking...

PKV RACING LOOKING FORWARD TO MOLSON INDY TORONTO STREET RACE

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - - JULY 7, 2005 - - PKV Racing's Jimmy Vasser called it a "barometer" while teammate Cristiano da Matta thinks "it will be a good test", but both drivers are looking forward to this weekend's Molson Indy Toronto on the temporary street circuit at Exhibition Place in Toronto, Canada.

Vasser, who has piloted the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine to three consecutive top six finishes and four top-10 showings in the first five races of the 2005 Champ Car World Series season, currently sits fifth in the championship race with 82 points.

Commenting on the Toronto race he said,

"I am very curious to see how the PKV Racing team does on a true street circuit. This is the first street circuit we have raced on since Long Beach where we did not fair as well as we had hoped. I think it will be a good challenge for the team and a good barometer of where we are as a team."

Meanwhile da Matta, who with his #21 Bell Micro/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola Bridgestone team, has been on something of a tear the last two races scoring the team's first win, a victory in Portland, and following up with a strong performance in Cleveland, said, "I think the Toronto race is going to be a very good test for the PKV Racing team. The last two races we have been running really well, but the Toronto circuit is different from Portland and Cleveland. The last two circuits are more flowing. Now, we are going to a true street course where there is more hard braking and you have to be able to put the power down in the corners. I am confident that the PKV Racing team will get the setup correct and that will be key to having a good weekend."

Vasser opened the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season with a ninth place showing at Long Beach. He finished 14th in Round #2 in Monterrey, Mexico before placing a season high fifth at Milwaukee then following up with a pair of sixth place performances in Portland and Cleveland. Vasser has qualified in the top-10 in four of the five events this year including taking the first pole in PKV Racing's history (Milwaukee). This will be Vasser's 14th race in Toronto. In 13 previous events at Exhibition Place he has earned six top-10 qualifying positions with a best starting spot of second in 1995. Vasser has finished in the top-10 seven times, including two podium performances with a best showing of second in 2004.

"I have always enjoyed racing on the Toronto circuit," Vasser said. "It has a good mixture of high speed and tight corners," he noted. "We have done well in Toronto in the past and are coming off a good showing last year. Hopefully, the PKV Racing team can build on our second place showing in 2004 and get to the top of the podium this year," Vasser concluded.

Commenting on consecutive races in Canada, Vasser said,

"I really enjoy racing in Canada because the fans are so knowledgeable about the Champ Car World Series and motorsports in general. I think it is going to be a very exciting two weeks of racing in Canada with Toronto and Edmonton as back-to-back events."

Now in his 14th Champ Car season, Vasser will be making his 224th career and record 203rd consecutive Champ Car start this weekend. The 39-year-old native of California has finished 139 of his last 179 races and placed in the top-10 in 127 of his 223 events including 63 top-five showings. Vasser, the 1996 Series Champion is one of four former champions and three Americans competing in the 2005 Champ Car World Series. A resident of Las Vegas, NV, he is the only owner/driver in the series.

Over the past two races da Matta has shown the form and consistency that led him to the 2002 Series Champion and resulted in a two-year stint in Formula 1. In addition to the win in Portland, da Matta challenged for the pole in Cleveland before settling for his first front row start since Australia in 2002. In the race he was not only leading, but pulling away from the field when he came upon some lapped traffic, lost air on his front wing and crashed.

The talented 31-year-old Brazilian will be looking for a repeat of his Portland performance this weekend in Toronto as he tries to take back-to-back wins on a track that he is not the defending champion for the third time this season. In 2002, da Matta won from the pole in Portland and although he only qualified 10th, finished first again this year. He did not fair quite as well in Monterrey, Mexico where he also won from the pole in 2002. After qualifying ninth he had to settle for a sixth placing showing in that event. The resident of Miami, FL will be making his fifth start in Toronto. In four previous races at Exhibition Place da Matta has qualified in the top-10 twice including the one pole in 2002 and a second place starting position in 2000. He has finished in the top-10 twice including the win in 2002 and a fourth place showing in 2000.

"Toronto is not one of my favorite street circuits, but it is one where I have had some success," da Matta said. "It is a very tricky track and very difficult because of the surface changes from asphalt to concrete," he noted. "The good thing is I very much the city of Toronto and the fans are great. They are very knowledgeable and enthusiastic so it makes for a great atmosphere at the race," da Matta concluded.

Da Matta, who is contesting his fifth Champ Car season will be making his 85th career start this weekend. He has qualified in the top-10 at all five events this year including twice in the top five (the second place starting position in Cleveland followed by a fourth in Milwaukee). Da Matta has finished in the top-10 in three of the five races placing 10th in Long Beach and sixth in Monterrey to go with the win in Portland (11th in Milwaukee and 16th in Cleveland.). The resident of Miami, FL, who is currently sixth in the championship standings with 80 points, is one of four former champions and one of three Brazilians competing in Toronto.

PKV Racing will be making its fourth and fifth starts while competing in its third race in Toronto. In three previous starts (two races) the team has a best qualifying position of 11th by Vasser in 2004. The team has a best finish of second also by Vasser last year.

After the first five races of the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series season, PKV Racing has already established a number of team records. Da Matta scored the team's first victory in their two plus year history in Portland while Vasser earned the team's first pole in round #3 at Milwaukee. The two drivers have combined to set team records for best combined qualifying, first and fourth at Milwaukee and best combined finish, first and sixth at Portland. They have both qualified in the top-10 in four consecutive races for the first time in team history. Da Matta and Vasser have finished in the top-10 in the same race twice (eighth and 10th at Long Beach and first and sixth at Portland) this year and at least one of them has placed in the top-six in each of the last four races, which is also a team record.

The Molson Indy Toronto, July 8-10, on the temporary street circuit at Exhibition Place will be televised live on CBS beginning at 12:30 p.m. (ET).

Founded in January 2003, Indianapolis-based PKV Racing enters its third season of competition during the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season. PKV Racing is owned by successful venture capitalists Kevin Kalkhoven, who also co-owns the Champ Car World Series, and Dan Pettit, along with 1996 Series Champion Jimmy Vasser. The team is managed by the most successful Manager/Chief Mechanic in USAC/CART/Champ Car history, Jim McGee, who has amassed 90 victories and nine national championships.

-www.pkvracing.com

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Kevin Kalkhoven , Cristiano da Matta