CHAMPCAR/CART: Zolder: Rocketsports race report

Rocketsports Racing went into the Zolder race with the knowledge that it was going to be all about the strategy, however, taking a gamble early on would cost Alex Tagliani a top five finish when he had the car to do it today at Circuit Zolder ...

Rocketsports Racing went into the Zolder race with the knowledge that it was going to be all about the strategy, however, taking a gamble early on would cost Alex Tagliani a top five finish when he had the car to do it today at Circuit Zolder in Belgium.

After starting sixth on the grid, Tagliani lost one spot on the standing start as it was a tight squeeze as the 17-car field headed into Turn 1. However, he was able to get it back three laps later by making a nice move around Paul Tracy. On Lap 17, he made his first pit stop of the day during the first caution period of the day. With excellent work by the #8 Rocketsports crew, Tagliani grabbed one more position in the pits and made his way into the top five. He ran solidly there until Lap 26, when a yellow flag came out. As the team went back and forth on the decision whether to pit him or not, a quick call forced him in on Lap 27. But that call ended up costing him a top five, if not a podium finish, this afternoon in the inaugural Belgian Champ Car Grand Prix.

Since the leaders did not pit, Tagliani was then put off-sequence, and the gamble of doing so just did not pay off in the end. He dropped all the way down to the 13th spot on Lap 28. The Belgian crowd was able to see the French-Canadian run up front for a short time, during Laps 42-44, as he sat P2. But that would end when he came in for a stop on Lap 45. Another yellow flag halted the race during Laps 49-51, which saw Tagliani make his final stop of the day for fuel only.

After having a car that made him confident and quick, he was only able to salvage a ninth-place finish due to the gamble on race strategy. Despite the disappointment of this weekend's result, the Rocketsports team gears up for the next road race in Assen, Holland. They know that they had a quick car here, and hope that momentum will carry over to the next event.

This is Tagliani's ninth top-ten finish of the season. Tagliani earned 13 championship points for finishing Round 11 of the 2007 Champ Car World Series in the ninth spot. That gives him a total of 174 points, as he moves up one spot in the Champ Car standings from ninth to eighth. He is 22 points out of returning to the top five, where he sat for most of the first-half of the season.

The Rocketsports team will drive up to Assen, Holland tomorrow and begin preparations for the next Champ Car race on September 2. The Bavaria Beer Champ Car Grand Prix of Holland is Round 12 of the 2007 Champ Car World Series season, and the TT Circuit Assen will be yet another new European venue for the team and series. On-track activities will kick off on Friday, August 30. Final qualifying will take place on Saturday, September 1.

Quotes:

Alex Tagliani #8 Rocketsports Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone

"The Rocketsports team did a really good job all weekend. We had a good car, but it was a really weird call at the beginning of the race to come in when we were already in the top five. From that point on, we never got our position back. The strategy was wrong and this is a track with a small amount of straight-away, so it makes it very difficult to pass. We got stuck behind and we never could make it back to the front. It was very unfortunate that we chose this strategy considering that we had a car that could have finished on the podium today. It is a little bit sad, but we just have to think about next weekend. Hopefully we will have as good of a car and we can finish on the podium at the next one."

Paul Gentilozzi, Rocketsports Racing Team Owner

"Through indecision we made a bad decision in the pit box. The radio transmissions that we overheard lead us to believe the guys in front of us were going to stop for fuel only. Based on that, and the fact that we had low tire pressures and we needed to adjust the car, we stopped and that ended up to be the wrong thing to do. We could not go back and from that point on, nothing that could have assisted us to gain track position worked out. So we got caught for a long time behind Paul Tracy and that cost us a nine second gap and we could never make that up. We ended up taking a top five car and made it a ninth-place car."

-credit: rocketsportsracing.com

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Paul Gentilozzi