PAGENAUD SECOND AND PATRIZI EIGHTH ON GREAT DAY FOR TEAM AUSTRALIA ATLANTICS Team Australia Atlantic drivers Simon Pagenaud and Michael Patrizi have both performed exceptionally well in Round 11 of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship in...
PAGENAUD SECOND AND PATRIZI EIGHTH ON GREAT DAY FOR TEAM AUSTRALIA ATLANTICS
Team Australia Atlantic drivers Simon Pagenaud and Michael Patrizi have both performed exceptionally well in Round 11 of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship in Montreal, Canada today.
Pagenaud was a close second and Patrizi eighth on debut on a sensational day for the Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Atlantic squad, which has set up a thrilling final round of the championship at the classic Road America circuit in Wisconsin on September 24.
Pagenaud finished second by a mere 0.073 seconds to championship rival Graham Rahal on a wet Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The two will now take their battle for the $US2million championship prize to the final race of the 12-round series.
The Frenchman grabbed the lead from polesitter James Hinchcliffe early in the race in the #15 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards/Location U Swift, only to be tagged from behind by the Canadian at the hairpin.
The contact pushed Pagenaud wide, allowing Rahal to drive alongside the Team Australia driver and take the lead. Pagenaud shadowed the rear of Rahal's car for the rest of the race, contemplating several passing moves, but to no avail.
Pagenaud had a better run out of the final chicane on the last lap, drawing level with Rahal in a drag to the line, narrowly missing out on his second race win of the year. The finish gives Pagenaud a 12 point lead in the championship with one round remaining. The Team Australia now has six podiums and nine top five finishes from the 11 races held this season.
Australian Michael Patrizi had a stunning debut race in the competitive Atlantic championship, finishing eighth in the #5 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Lola. Patrizi's fastest lap of the race was actually faster than both Rahal and Pagenaud.
Patrizi, who had never driven a Mazda-Cosworth Atlantic until Friday's opening practice session of the weekend, started 12th and made his way up to 11th within the first two laps.
The West Australian then made his way up to ninth position and after a long chase, Patrizi caught and passed reigning Formula BMW USA Champion Richard Philippe to claim eighth, a remarkable effort. Patrizi ran down San Jose race winner Raphael Matos, but in the end held position to give the Aussie Vineyards team a tremendous result.
Patrizi also aided his team-mate's championship quest to some degree, beating three drivers who are in the top 10 in the championship standings, including third place Andreas Wirth, the Australian taking vital points away from the Forsythe driver with one round remaining.
Simon Pagenaud -- #15 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards/Location U/Cons. Gen. Vienne Swift
"Our car was fantastic when I was behind in Hinchcliffe in the beginning," said Pagenaud.
"I was a lot quicker than him and I said to myself 'OK, this is my race, I can do it'. I got by Hinchcliffe at the Turn 8 chicane.
"After that in the hairpin he broke a little too late and hit my rear suspension. We bent something on it, but it didn't change my car a lot, but Rahal got by me.
"My strategy was to stay behind, keep my tyres good and wait for the end. I tried to attack as much as I could at the end, but he was really quick in the straight line. It was a very fun race and the fans that made it out were happy with that.
"I have to thank my mechanics and all of Team Australia, they did such a good job. We are in really good shape for Elkhart Lake and we are still in the hunt for the championship."
Michael Patrizi -- #5 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Swift
"It was a very difficult race with the conditions and my experience in the car," said Patrizi.
"However coming off of the warm-up this morning, where we were sixth fastest, we were quite happy and I knew that I had the pace for the race
"Then at the start of my first Atlantic race, I found my feet and had a big go. Once I got into the groove I really pushed on, and had the fastest lap time for a while there.
"I just picked everyone off one at a time. I got caught up with (Raphael) Matos and made a mistake and locked up the front which dropped me back again. To be eighth in my first Atlantic race, I'm a happy guy.
"All the credit goes to Team Australia/Walker racing and the whole crew. They make the show and I love Atlantics. It's a great environment to work in, and I couldn't be happier right now."
Derrick Walker -- Team Australia Co-Owner
"Fantastic weekend all around for Michael, he really stayed focused," said Walker.
"He learned the car in a really short space of time. All of the guys worked together, he had a good car for the race and he executed the plan very well. I'm really pleased for him and a well deserved, great result for the team.
"Simon did everything he could for the race and earned the maximum points that he could. I think that we needed a little bit more out of the car to get a win, but we earned the best that we could and the championship is still very much in the hunt."
Craig Gore -- Team Australia Co-Owner
"There is no doubt that we are in for a cracker finish," said Gore.
"I am not saying that I would not have preferred for it to have been over by now, but we certainly have a great finish with the race literally being worth $US2 million to the winner at Elkhart Lake.
"Simon did a good job to stay out of trouble despite the closeness of the racing and the speed at the front of the field.
"Michael (Patrizi) also showed great maturity in his first appearance and I think will be an asset for us in the final round."
-credit: team australia