CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto: Team Australia Friday report

TAGLIANI GRABS FIRST TOP THREE QUALIFYING SPOT FOR TEAM AUSTRALIA The Aussie Vineyards-sponsored Team Australia Champ Car squad continued its tremendous progress in its debut year with Alex Tagliani recording the team's first top three ...

TAGLIANI GRABS FIRST TOP THREE QUALIFYING SPOT FOR TEAM AUSTRALIA

The Aussie Vineyards-sponsored Team Australia Champ Car squad continued its tremendous progress in its debut year with Alex Tagliani recording the team's first top three qualifying result at the Molson Indy Toronto today.

The Canadian star recorded this outstanding result in his home country, stopping the clocks at 59.248 seconds to be third fastest.

The result tops Tagliani's fourth place qualifying efforts in Monterrey, Mexico and Portland, Oregon this year for Team Australia.

Tagliani will be out to hold (or better) that position in final qualifying tomorrow. If he can succeed, it will be the best Toronto qualifying effort of his Champ Car career, beating his 4th place start of 2003.

Aussie rookie Marcus Marshall was 17th in today's qualifying session - improving nearly 1.5 seconds between the opening practice and qualifying.

Marshall's progress was delayed by traffic late in the session. He also survived a tap with the wall entering the start-finish straight.

Paul Tracy recorded the fastest time of the day to earn the provisional pole position and lock in a front row start for Sunday with a time of 58.887 seconds.

Final qualifying for the sixth round of the 2005 Champ Car World Series will be staged tomorrow at 2:10 pm local time (July 10, 4.10am (AEST)

WHAT IS AUSSIE VINEYARDS/TEAM AUSTRALIA?

Australia will again play host to the Champ Car World Series on the streets of Surfers Paradise for the Lexmark Indy 300 from October 20-23. This year will be the first year in the event's history that a full-time Australian team will compete for glory on home soil.

Team Australia is a new Champ Car entry created for 2005 by veteran team owner Derrick Walker and Australian businessmen Craig Gore and John Fish.

The team will contest the championship with major sponsorship from Aussie Vineyards, a new Queensland company established by Gore and Fish to export Australian wine into the US market.

The pair is looking to use the program as a tool for other Australian businesses also wishing to market their products and services into the US.

ALEX TAGLIANI -- CAR #1

"This is a fantastic result for us and our first time with a top three finish in qualifying for Team Australia."

"Derrick has done a brilliant job in marshalling our boys together and we have been improving all the time."

"We haven't all known each other very long, but the way the team is maturing is extremely impressive -- I am very proud of everybody."

"Getting a clear lap out there was pretty tough. On my first run I came up on Sebastien (Bourdais) who was still coming up to speed. On the second run I locked a brake at one stage which probably cost me a 10th of a second, but that wouldn't have gained me another spot."

"It is fantastic to get a result like this with the Aussie Vineyards team here in Canada. Gaining two more spots tomorrow will be a challenge, because for our team this is our first year with the Lola and we really spend the first day gathering our data and information about the car and the track."

"The guys will pour over that info tonight and see if we can make some further improvements tomorrow."

MARCUS MARSHALL -- CAR #5

"For me the car was so much better in qualifying than practice. We made a big change after the 10 minute warm-up practice and it improved greatly in the actual qualifying session."

"I was digging harder and harder and unfortunately I hit a bit of traffic in the wrong spot which cost me a couple of tenths which would have moved me up a little bit."

"I also learned how hard to push coming onto the start-finish straight, because I slapped the wall quite hard. I hit it fairly square so it didn't do any damage."

"I really love the track here, you can build a great rhythm which is sometimes hard to do on a street circuit."

"We will keep working and studying data tonight, but overall Team Australia has had a pretty good day."

DERRICK WALKER -- CO-OWNER, TEAM AUSTRALIA

"This has been a very pleasing day for us. We are going to a lot of new racetracks with the Lola chassis for the first time this year so anytime you do that and end up P3 after the first day is a damn good day -- a good start."

"There is still a lot more time in the car. We usually run out of time to try everything we would like because the practice sessions are quite short and then you go straight to qualifying."

"Every session we have, we get to know the car better so there is still more to come."

"I get the impression Alex will be very strong at every Canadian race. Being here gives him a big lift and he certainly knows how to run these street courses which is a real asset for us."

"Marcus made a huge gain in the qualifying session so we are tracking along nicely and moving in the right direction."

CRAIG GORE -- CO-OWNER, TEAM AUSTRALIA

"There is obviously going to be a lot of firsts for us this year, our first race, our first podium and now our first qualifying finish in the top three. We are really delighted with that progress and certainly have our sights well and truly focused on our first win."

"Alex's popularity and his success in Toronto is a tremendous boost for our team, Aussie Vineyards and our commercial partners. He has been surrounded by local press and television guys after every session."

"These big races in Canada have a very similar feel to the Lexmark Indy 300 back in Australia and provide us with an outstanding marketing springboard for Aussie Vineyards in Canada."

AUSTRALIAN TELEVISION: The Cleveland round of the Champ Car World Series will be telecast on Network Ten at 1.40am (AEST) on July 11.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Paul Tracy , Marcus Marshall