CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD IN SIGHT FOR TEAM AUSTRALIA ATLANTIC TEAM Team Australia Champ Car Atlantic driver Simon Pagenaud has climbed to within eight points of the championship lead after finishing fifth in the sixth round of the series in Cleveland,...
CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD IN SIGHT FOR TEAM AUSTRALIA ATLANTIC TEAM
Team Australia Champ Car Atlantic driver Simon Pagenaud has climbed to within eight points of the championship lead after finishing fifth in the sixth round of the series in Cleveland, Ohio today.
Pagenaud started today's race from pole, the first ever pole position for a Team Australia entry, but had a poor launch from the standing start and dropped to be fifth at the end of the first lap. Pagenaud held his nerve in the tough battle for the minor positions to finish fifth and grab what were vital points for the championship, as series leader Andreas Wirth only managed 18th place after running off course and needing to pit as a result to replace a damaged front wing.
Australian James Davison continued to show his maturity and skill in the competitive class by getting his second 13th place finish for the weekend. Davison ran the majority of the race with a damaged front wing after contact at a restart, but despite the aerodynamic imbalance, Davison gained one place on his starting position to score more points towards the championship.
Graham Rahal won his second race for the weekend, claiming victory at the circuit where his father Bobby won his first Champ Car race 25 years ago.
Pagenaud's #15 Team Australia entry also won this weekend's Sherwin-Williams Atlantic Design Award. Representatives of Sherwin-Williams, the Official Automotive Finish of Atlantics, along with select Cleveland race fans, judged Pagenaud's green and gold Team Australia car to have the best finish design this weekend. The Aussie Vineyards team was awarded $US4000 for the honour and the prize was accepted by Team Australia/Walker Racing paint shop manager Scott Turner and his assistant, Robert Cox, who made the trip to Cleveland this weekend.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY --
SIMON PAGENAUD -- #15 TEAM AUSTRALIA SWIFT
"Well, I had a pretty bad start when I made a mistake with the clutch. I did the same thing as what I did for yesterday's start, but I think that there was more grip on the track today so the car was slow off the line.
"After that the car wasn't bad. I can't really explain why the leaders pulled away, but I think they have found something better in their car set-up and we just need to put our finger on it.
"I had a few problems with traffic as well. I was position five after the second turn and I'm so sorry for the team, because they did a fantastic job. Overall, we are still at the top, we will test next weekend and we will improve a lot on the car and try to win the next race."
JAMES DAVISON -- #5 TEAM AUSTRALIA SWIFT
"I was in a comfortable position and then a caution came out after a few laps and on the restart people were checking up. I ended up losing half my front wing because of it. I had to do my absolute best for nearly the entire race to keep the other guys behind me because with the damaged front wing I had a huge amount of understeer. I had to focus and it was very difficult because I had a guy trying to pass me nearly every lap.
"It was very challenging, but it wasn't a bad experience because it teaches you to drive and how to drive around problems. Two 13th place finishes and some more points is a good result. I'm learning a lot and I think if I can piece it together I'll be on top of my game."
DERRICK WALKER -- CO-OWNER TEAM AUSTRALIA
"It wasn't as good of a start for Simon today as yesterday and it set the tone for the whole race. It's hard with the competition the way that it is to come back from that distance at the start when you lose that much. Clearly I don't think our set-up was a match for the competition today.
"Full credit to the team, we had a good, reliable car. Simon brought all the points home that were on the table for us today and we're still looking good in the championship points.
"For James it's too bad that he got caught up in a little altercation that was none of his doing. To drive the way he drove with half the front wing missing was bloody amazing and he did a fantastic job. He gets stronger and stronger as every race goes by."
CRAIG GORE -- CO-OWNER TEAM AUSTRALIA
"It is great to see Simon right in the championship hunt now after what was a really big weekend for the whole team with two Atlantic rounds held," said Gore.
"It would be fantastic to see him grab the championship lead at the next round in Toronto in the #15 Team Australia car.
"It was a bit disappointing to see James have his front wing damaged like that but he showed a lot of character and patience to finish the race as high as he did considering the damage to the #5 Aussie Vineyards car.
"He will take plenty away from this weekend going into Toronto and the second half of the championship."