SLIPPERY START Assen, The Netherlands (August 31, 2007) -- It was a day of mixed emotions for Minardi Team USA and drivers Robert Doornbos and 'Speedy' Dan Clarke, who completed their first qualifying session at the Bavaria Champ Car Grand Prix...
Assen, The Netherlands (August 31, 2007) -- It was a day of mixed emotions for Minardi Team USA and drivers Robert Doornbos and 'Speedy' Dan Clarke, who completed their first qualifying session at the Bavaria Champ Car Grand Prix of Assen.After threatening earlier in the day, rain arrived in the middle of the afternoon practice session, and thereafter, couldn't make up its mind whether to stay or go.It made for unpredictable track conditions, and at the end of a tricky first qualifying session, Robert was ranked seventh and Dan, fourteenth.
Since arriving in Assen, Robert has been mobbed by enthusiastic Dutch fans, and the local hero loves nothing more than racing in his home country.Things started well enough for him this morning, as despite four red flags in the first practice, Robert felt he had a strong car by the end of the session.Just before the qualifying began, however, the skies opened up and it began to rain. The rapidly changing weather conditions became a major factor, and unfortunately, they didn't play into Robert's hands on this occasion.His final lap would certainly have put him higher up the charts, but he caught up to a slower car, which lost him time on the final sector.He will have another chance tomorrow, however, to put on a good show for the thousands of fans proudly wearing the Dutch colors.
Robert Doornbos Position: 7th Best lap: 1 min 32.343 secs
"It's great to be here and see so many fans out here at the track on the first day.The circuit was really fast in the first few laps in dry conditions and we were looking strong for the qualifying session.We should have been on the front row, but I was held up by another driver on my last and quickest lap.We have another shot at pole tomorrow, and we'll be aiming to put on the best possible show for all the Dutch fans who will be here."
Dan Clarke is back in the car this weekend, and although his grid position doesn't show it, is coming to grips with the challenging Assen circuit. As was the case for all the drivers, the inclement weather affected Dan's strategy today,but the young Englishman knows he'll have another chance tomorrow to live up to his nickname.
'Speedy' Dan ClarkePosition: 14th Best lap: 1 min 33.722 secs
"First of all, it's great to be back in the car this weekend.As far as today is concerned, it was a case of changing conditions out there this afternoon.We came up with a strategy, but it just didn't quite coincide with the way the weather developed.As a result, we weren't strong enough when the track was at its best. We've still got tomorrow and Sunday to get it right, though -- and we will."
PAUL STODDART, TEAM CO-OWNER
"Despite showing signs of promise in today's slippery conditions, the traffic just did not go well for Robert.He showed he had the pace in the wet, but did not get the clear lap required to turn it into a front-row position.Clearly, both Dan and Robert will hope for a better day tomorrow."
KEITH WIGGINS, TEAM CO-OWNER
"It was obviously a mixed session this afternoon, and it was a case of getting the right laps at the right time. In addition, traffic is always going to be a problem around here.Unfortunately, we just weren't in a position to take advantage, and we'll therefore be looking for a better outcome tomorrow."