SIMON PAGENAUD CLAIMS MAIDEN WIN FOR TEAM AUSTRALIA Simon Pagenaud has earned Team Australia's first ever victory by winning Round 8 of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship in Edmonton, Canada today. The Frenchman qualified second for the race...
SIMON PAGENAUD CLAIMS MAIDEN WIN FOR TEAM AUSTRALIA
Simon Pagenaud has earned Team Australia's first ever victory by winning Round 8 of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship in Edmonton, Canada today.
The Frenchman qualified second for the race and sat in that position for much of the event. Pagenaud ran close behind race leader Raphael Matos lap after lap but could not edge close enough to make a passing attempt.
Bu on lap 29 of the 36-lap event, Matos ran wide at Turn 12 and hit the concrete wall, breaking his suspension and leading him to spin at the next corner. The mistake gave Pagenaud the race lead and he went on to give the Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards squad it's first win since the birth of the exciting operation in 2005.
Pagenaud's win extends his lead in the Atlantic championship with four rounds remaining in the competitive series, which awards $US2million to the champion to put towards a drive in the 2007 Champ Car World Series.
Pagenuad's win gave this weekend's round a familiar feel, as the Atlantic round was held after the Champ Car World Series race in Edmonton. The Champ Car community have grown accustomed to seeing a Frenchman stand on the top step of the podium at the end of the weekend, but instead of two-time and defending Champ Car World Series Champion Sebastien Bourdais, it was his protege and countryman Pagenaud in the green and gold of Team Australia.
The Team Australia driver's parents, Christian and Sylvie, and Pagenaud's girlfriend Lucie were all on hand to see Pagenaud's first Atlantic victory in Edmonton, making the win extra special for the Frenchman.
Team Australia's James Davison also had a strong run, finishing 13th at the demanding JAGflo Speedway in Edmonton. The young Aussie Vineyards driver started 16th in the grid and gained three positions throughout the race, rising one position in the championship to 16th in a year where the Victorian is learning a lot and constantly improving.
Team Australia's Champ Car Atlantic squad returns to action next weekend for Round 9 of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship at the Grand Prix of San Jose.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY --
SIMON PAGENAUD -- #15 TEAM AUSTRALIA/AUSSIE VINEYARDS SWIFT
"I'm feeling great right now," said Pagenaud.
"I'm so happy. I've been waiting on this win since the beginning of the year. This weekend I really wanted to win, because I knew we had the best car and when you have the best car you just want to do it. The crew worked so hard, it's such a good achievement today.
"My start was bad because Matos had a shorter first gear, and Phillippe passed me in the first corner but I passed him before the second chicane. Then I tried to follow Matos and that was easy because I had a good car.
"I couldn't really follow him close because I was damaging my front tyres, so I tried to back up a little bit and get the fastest lap. When I came back on him, he was the one that made the mistake.
"It's all about racing, I'm not happy with his mistake. We confirmed our spot in the championship, so it's a great weekend."
JAMES DAVISON -- #5 TEAM AUSTRALIA/AUSSIE VINEYARDS SWIFT
"I had one of the best reaction times at the start, but I just got bogged down unbelievably," said Davison.
"There was a lot of grip on the track. I was full throttle on the limiter and just got tied down. By far this track is more physical and demanding. I just have to keep working extra hard with fitness. I row eleven kilometres a day along with other exercise because adapting to the physical part of driving these Atlantic cars is what is most challenging. I drove a smart race and finished 13th and the car was great, it was just the physical aspect that made it very difficult."
DERRICK WALKER -- TEAM AUSTRALIA CO-OWNER
"It's a special day for the whole team really," said Walker.
"There has been a lot of work that has been put into this, everybody has been working on the cars, even the Champ Car guys have helped out and vice a versa.
"It really was a huge team effort and the car ran flawlessly, and was very competitive. Simon drove a really smart race and ended up on top of the podium, which was well overdue.
"For James this was a very demanding race track for him. His physical stature is obviously a disadvantage in driving this car. Early on in the weekend he showed a lot of promise. The package we had for James seemed to suit him real well. The track is quite demanding. He drove as hard as he could but with that many cars in front of you it's hard to overtake. He did the best he could, didn't win the race so we've got to keep working at it.
"Certainly this result can't go unnoticed because two of my colleagues who help make the Atlantic program possible Wayne Deans, of Deans Knight, from Vancouver, and Steve Caudwell of WasteCo, who is from Toronto, are avid racing supporters and have stepped up to help make our Atlantic program possible. They have gotten involved with our team and have really made this happen. It's a special thanks to them for all the effort they have done in supporting the program.
"Of course I can't miss out my colleague in Australia, Craig Gore. It's the first win for Team Australia, which has got to be extra special for Craig."
CRAIG GORE -- TEAM AUSTRALIA CO-OWNER
"It's great for an Australian owned team to get a win on the International stage, especially considering this is our first year in the Atlantic championship," said Gore.
"It reflects the effort put in by the guys in the team in a championship that now produces some very close racing and is extremely tough given the new format introduced at the start of the year.
"It is very pleasing to see Simon maintaining his lead in the championship and on track to the win the $US2million first prize that will go towards a drive in the Champ Car World Series next year.
"It's certainly a very exciting moment for Team Australia and I'm very proud of everyone involved. I look forward to many more to come."