Champ Car Atlantic Championship Dream Still Alive for Andreas Wirth Denver, Colorado -- August 14, 2006 -- Returning to the scene of his first Atlantic Career win, Andreas Wirth was hopeful that the mile high streets of Denver would leave him ...
Champ Car Atlantic Championship Dream Still Alive for Andreas Wirth
Denver, Colorado -- August 14, 2006 -- Returning to the scene of his first Atlantic Career win, Andreas Wirth was hopeful that the mile high streets of Denver would leave him flying high with another trip to victory lane. Despite an eagerness to defend his title in Denver and re-gain control of the Championship points-lead, Wirth merely managed to hold his own in Sunday's race.
As the field of twenty-five cars took to the Denver streets on Friday, it was evident that Wirth would have a battle on his hands once again to stay up front. After producing the third fastest time in morning practice, Wirth struggled to put a fast lap together in qualifying, and only managed to clock a 1: 08.132 in the first round, leaving him with a somewhat disappointing seventh place provisional effort. Andreas explained, "I was fast everywhere on the track except the last two corners. We had a major snap over-steer issue in the long right-hander and I just couldn't carry any speed through that sector. I think I was probably losing about two-tenths of a second there with every lap. It was difficult again with traffic and a couple of red flags, but it's that way for everyone. We're confident that we can solve our set up problem and pick up the speed for final qualifying tomorrow."
The final round of qualifying only provided further proof that the Atlantic competition in 2006 is fierce, with the top five qualifiers finishing within just 3/100ths of a second! Andreas Wirth rounded out the top five with a time of 1:07.055 and went on to talk about the battle he faced on track, "The car was good today and my fast lap was clean, but this series is so competitive that it seems like a small gust of wind can move you up or back in the field by five positions! Early on the car was a bit loose coming out of the corners, but my guys made a few adjustments and the car was really good. It's frustrating though, if I could have found just a tenth of a second I could have been on the front row! What can I say, I had a really good Sunday here last year when I won my first Atlantic race, so I'm confident that I can move up through the field and find my way to the podium again!"
Making his 20th Atlantic Career start in Denver amid an exceptionally competitive field of racers, Wirth knew it was extremely unlikely that he would produce a repeat of his picture perfect 2005 Denver victory. In spite of his fifth place spot on the starting grid, Wirth felt optimistic and commented, "It's a long race, and really anything can happen here. I just hope to make it through Turn 1 cleanly -- and then we fight!"
Foreshadowing the things to come, the Grand Prix of Denver Atlantic Race got underway with yellow flags in the air before the pack of twenty-five could even clear the first turn. After an action packed first half, with no less than four yellow flags and one flipped car, the Atlantic young-guns finally settled into what should have been the second half of their race. Due to yellow flag delays, race-control deemed the race would be a timed event. With approximately10-minutes to go, competitors were left with little time or opportunity to find their way through the pack.
After a somewhat disjointed race, Forsythe Racing's Andreas Wirth simply managed to put his championship hunt in a holding pattern; finishing the race where he began, holding his own in third place over all in the Atlantic Championship standings. With disappointment in his voice, Andreas explained, "The car was very fast today, fast everywhere except the two corners that led onto the back straight. For some reason I just couldn't go flat out through that sector without the car getting loose on me, so I couldn't close in. It's really frustrating because there are really only a couple of good spots for passing out there, and my car was failing where I needed it the most." Wirth continued, "There's not much we can do about it at this point, I'm just hoping for something much better in our last two races. Montreal is one of my favourite tracks, so I'm looking forward to that. Technically, I can still win the championship -- at least on paper -- so I'll be giving it 110% going into Montreal and Road America! I'll be fighting all the way." Wirth concluded, "All of my guys and my Engineer, Nick, did their best for me this weekend, and I have to thank them all for their hard work. There's still time guys -- we're not giving up yet!"
With just two races left on the 2006 calendar, Wirth's dreams of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Title are still alive. While it will take extreme determination and a lot of hard work to make it happen, this talented young German still holds firmly to his hope of capturing the 2006 Atlantic Championship and the $2 million reward to see him through to the Champ Car World Series in 2007.
Returning to Canada in less than two weeks' time for the eleventh and penultimate round of competition, Andreas Wirth reflects for only a moment on what could have been in 2005. (Wirth missed the final two rounds of Atlantic competition at Road America and The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve due to an on-track injury in morning warm up in Elkhart Lake). Excitement mounts as the competition heats up for the final two rounds of 2006! Wirth remains third in the overall standings for 2006 with 193 points; just 16 points behind second place and 32 points behind the Series leader.
The Champ Car Atlantic Championship returns to Road Course Racing in Canada for Round 11 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec on August 27.
-credit: Andreas Wirth Racing