CHAMPIONSHIP SHOWDOWN FOR SIMON PAGENAUD AND TEAM AUSTRALIA Team Australia and French driver Simon Pagenaud will be striving for championship glory in Round 12 of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship at the Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake,...
CHAMPIONSHIP SHOWDOWN FOR SIMON PAGENAUD AND TEAM AUSTRALIA
Team Australia and French driver Simon Pagenaud will be striving for championship glory in Round 12 of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship at the Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin this weekend.
After 11 rounds of hard-fought competition it has all come down to the final event at the classic Road America circuit and two drivers -- Pagenaud and Graham Rahal. Pagenaud currently holds a 12-point advantage over his American rival.
Pagenaud will be assured the title if he finishes on the podium, while Rahal will be striving to not only win, but also gain a bonus point for being the fastest qualifier on both Friday and Saturday and leading a lap. The early bonus points on offer mean that Pagenaud and the Aussie Vineyards crew are taking a two-stage attack into this weekend. The first objectives will be to learn the circuit in practice and have a strong showing in qualifying, as topping even one of the two qualifying sessions will make Rahal's task all the more difficult.
Pagenaud will again be joined by late season revelation Michael Patrizi, who made his Atlantic debut at the last round at Montreal. While Patrizi will be keen to repeat his stunning form on debut in Montreal, the West Australian's clear goal is to do everything possible to assist Pagenaud and Team Australia to win the championship.
A championship win would also be an extremely significant milestone for Team Australia, as it would be the first for the operation, which was formed by Derrick Walker and Craig Gore in 2005.
Simon Pagenaud -- #15 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards/Location U/Cons. Gen. Vienne Swift
"There are two main steps for the weekend, the first is to focus on practice and qualifying," said Pagenaud.
"We need to be aggressive and confident and understand the track as quickly as possible. After that, it's all about strategy, but this weekend is all about the qualifying. I'm very happy to have Michael back. He is a great driver and he gave us really good feedback in Montreal.
"Elkhart Lake is more of a European style track, which is what he is used to racing, so we will be able to look at his data which will really help us out. We have a whole new team spirit and I look forward to a positive weekend."
Michael Patrizi -- #5 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Swift
"I'm really excited about returning to the United States to join the Team Australia Atlantic team once again," said Patrizi.
"Clearly my goal this weekend with Team Australia is to do everything I can to help Simon win the Champ Car Atlantic Championship. To do that I need to be as quick as possible so that we can share our data and I'll be doing my bit to help Team Australia win its first championship."
"We had a really strong showing at Montreal despite having no time in the car before the Montreal weekend. With that race weekend now under my belt I will be giving it everything I've got to get an even better result at Road America.
"Team Australia is a great team and no driver could ask for a better group of people to work with. I'm looking forward to getting into that green and gold Aussie Vineyards car again and making everyone involved in the Team Australia program proud.
"I couldn't ask for two better circuits to race at for these last two Atlantic rounds. Road America is classed as one of the premier road courses in the US and has a similar reputation to that of Bathurst in Australia and Spa Francorchamps in Europe.
Derrick Walker -- Team Australia Co-Owner
"Generally the season, when you look at our consistency and reliability, it has carried us to this point and earned us the opportunity to compete for the championship," said Walker.
"To win the championship we can't make any mistakes, Elkhart Lake is like every other race in that we stay focused on providing Simon a great car and race smart. We don't need to take any unnecessary chances, stay focused on our goal which is to be the best we can in every session and to win the race.
"I think we are capable of doing that, so barring any unforeseen incidents or climatic changes that can tip everything upside down, we are the same plan we have had since Long Beach.
"It's a steep learning curve for Michael, being that he has not had a lot of seat time in the Atlantic car and Elkhart Lake is a first for him and for Simon.
"There is a lot to absorb in a short space of time, but I feel our cars are going to be pretty close to the right starting point. Given the strength that both drivers have demonstrated, Simon and Michael will get up to speed fairly quickly. It will be a busy weekend, but I feel confident both drivers will do fine."
Craig Gore -- Team Australia Co-Owner
"There is no doubt that this is a big weekend for Team Australia and everyone involved with the program," said Gore.
"To be in a position to win our first championship in our first full Atlantic season is great testimony to the work that Derrick and the Indianapolis-based crew have done this season.
"Simon is a class act and has done a terrific job this season. He knows what has to be done this weekend and what is at stake for the team and for himself. It would be great to see a Frenchman celebrating a championship win with a glass of Aussie Vineyards win on Sunday afternoon in Elkhart Lake.
"Michael also did a solid job on debut in Montreal and will be a valuable part of our efforts to win the championship this weekend. He knows that his future opportunities rest with his performance this weekend in front of some of the business' biggest stakeholders."
-credit: team australia