PAGENAUD TO START ATLANTIC FINALE FROM SECOND AFTER WEATHER-EFFECTED QUALIFYING Team Australia driver and Champ Car Atlantic Championship leader Simon Pagenaud will start tomorrow's final round of the season from second on the grid after final...
PAGENAUD TO START ATLANTIC FINALE FROM SECOND AFTER WEATHER-EFFECTED QUALIFYING
Team Australia driver and Champ Car Atlantic Championship leader Simon Pagenaud will start tomorrow's final round of the season from second on the grid after final qualifying today in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Pagenaud was eighth fastest today at the rain-soaked Road America circuit but will start from the outside of the front row by virtue of topping provisional qualifying on Friday.
With rain descending on Elkhart Lake, time was limited to put in a quick lap time before conditions deteriorated. Pagenaud managed the eighth fastest time before the rain set in, but the good work of Friday will assure a good starting position for the all important final race for the championship and the $US2million prize.
Pagenaud's Team Australia team-mate Michael Patrizi was not so lucky and will start tomorrow's race from 22nd position. Patrizi went off and a damp patch of the circuit on his first flying lap. The Australian then came into the pits to allow the team to check for damage.
In the time Patrizi was in the pits, the rain set in, denying the young gun, who was fifth in yesterday's opening qualifying, the opportunity to set a fast time. Patrizi will now set about passing as many cars as possible in tomorrow's race and is confident of ascending the timesheets to reach a top 10 position for only his second Atlantic race.
Raphael Matos clinched pole position today and will start alongside Pagenaud on the front row for the race. Matos's pole denied Pagenaud's championship rival Graham Rahal another opportunity for a bonus point, and the young American will start tomorrow's race from third.
Simon Pagenaud -- #15 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards/Location U/Cons. Gen. Vienne Lola
"We have not been that lucky today," said Pagenaud.
"This morning in practice we had an engine filter problem where we lost 1.8 seconds on the lap, which was a lot.
"Then in the first few laps of qualifying we used a different strategy than the other drivers who started the session, which was to make the fast lap in the first two laps and we missed something there.
"Honestly I was not thinking that it was going to rain like this and the track went really slippery and I couldn't do anything better when my tyre pressure came up. It was too late.
"The good thing is we did the job yesterday to be up front and Rahal is third so we are still in front of him and have the advantage for tomorrow.
"I want to say thank you to the whole team because the mechanics did a fantastic job on changing my engine in such a quick time. We are such a strong team and everyone worked together. They gave me the car to be here in qualifying and I can't say enough and thanks again guys."
Michael Patrizi -- #5 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Swift
"Unfortunately for us, there was one lap to do at the start of the session that was dry when we had our new tyres," said Patrizi.
"On our quick lap, unfortunately it sprinkled and I went straight like a couple of other guys, and that was it. I missed my lap. It rained in one corner, I went straight and by the time I got back into the pits to check everything over it rained, so we missed qualifying today.
"It's a bit of a shame, but I can race well. I know I've got a good car, good pace, and a great team. We will push for top ten tomorrow, that's very much possible."
Derrick Walker -- Team Australia Co-Owner
"It was bit of a mixed day really with conditions changing so much," said Walker.
"It was really just chasing the weather. The good news is we found our straight-line speed issue for Simon, which has been troubling us since Montreal, but it wasn't that obvious.
"The guys found it and changed it. It turned out to be an intake filter and we are all back up to speed. The car is great and it really was just playing with the weather conditions all day."
Craig Gore -- Team Australia Co-Owner
"If there is one thing about this sport, it's that it is unpredictable and that's what we saw in final qualifying for the Atlantic field today," said Gore.
"Simon did the job yesterday and had the insurance of a front row start in the bag. It turned out to be a big asset.
"Michael was giving it everything he had on the one lap available to him but unfortunately it came unstuck.
"His starting position is certainly no indication of his car's speed or the job he has done this weekend. I'm sure Michael will have plenty of fun racing through the field in tomorrow's race.
"Simon knows what is required tomorrow and if he does that it will be the turning point of his career. That's enough incentive for anyone."