SPEEDY'S FASTEST LAP; BOBBY D'S DISAPPOINTMENT It was a generally unsatisfactory day for Minardi Team USA and drivers Robert Doornbos and 'Speedy' Dan Clarke, at the Bavaria Champ Car Grand Prix of Assen, ultimately brightened only by Speedy's...
SPEEDY'S FASTEST LAP; BOBBY D'S DISAPPOINTMENT
It was a generally unsatisfactory day for Minardi Team USA and drivers Robert Doornbos and 'Speedy' Dan Clarke, at the Bavaria Champ Car Grand Prix of Assen, ultimately brightened only by Speedy's fastest race lap. The drivers looked strong in the first segment of the race, but as ever, strategy played a significant part in the outcome of the event. As the afternoon played out, both men had to pit for a splash of fuel in the closing laps of the race, Dan eventually taking the checkered flag in 11th place and Robert in 13th.
'Speedy' Dan was on a mission this weekend. He very quietly moved through the field once the race got under way, climbing as high as fourth at one point, and was on several occasions the fastest car on the track. Unfortunately, he had to make a 'splash-and-go' stop on lap 64 and fell from fifth to eleventh. He didn't give up, however, and turned the fastest lap of the race with three to go. Even though the result wasn't there, Dan drove a great race and the crew did an amazing job in the pits.
'Speedy' Dan Clarke 11th Place Fastest Lap 80.727 seconds
"The car was real good -- it was like a spaceship!
"For me, the most positive thing to come out of this race is that I succeeded in getting the monkey of the last race off my back. I would like to thank Tony (Cotman) for giving me the chance to race here in Assen and prove to those people who had quite a bit to say after Zolder that, strategy permitting, we can be right there in terms of pace. We may not have achieved the result we would have liked today, but I take great pleasure from our performance, and from the fact we set the fastest lap of the race. The No 4 crew has done a wonderful job over the two weeks of this Champ Car European Tour, and even pulled an all-nighter to ensure our car was in the best possible shape for today's race, so I would like to say a really special thank you to them for all their efforts. I'm definitely coming away from these two races a wiser and stronger person."
Robert had a somewhat difficult weekend racing in front of his home fans. He started ninth, and following a first lap, full-course yellow condition, fell to 12th when he pitted out of sequence. He then settled in and was driving quickly while saving fuel, when another yellow came out, on lap 14. Robert gained one spot in the pits, elevating him to 11th. Thereafter, he was unable to make up any positions on the track, limited passing opportunities and the way the yellows fell being unfavorable to his strategy. It was undoubtedly a disappointing end to his home race, and he now slips to third place in the Championship standings, five points behind Justin Wilson. Robert is experienced enough, however, to know that it's not over until it's over. Two races remain in the 2007 season to retrieve the situation.
Robert Doornbos 13th Place Fastest Lap 81.956 seconds
"It's been a great weekend, Bart (Rietbergen) and everyone did an amazing job. We proved once again why fans should watch Champ Car. We've had a great run for the Championship this year, and have had some great races. We struggled a bit here at Assen and the way the race played out, it just didn't work out for us. I am happy so many fans came out to support me and we'll look toward making back up points in Australia and Mexico."
Paul Stoddart, Team Co-owner
"What a sad end to Robert's home race. To be honest, we struggled to find a good chassis balance in both Benelux races, and today it really showed. I'm sure the drivers and the team can bounce back from this, however, and we will now concentrate on getting podiums in the last races, in Australia and Mexico."
KEITH WIGGINS, TEAM CO-OWNER
"We have had worse races, but I can't remember when right at the moment. With the combination of the fuel strategy and the fact this was a timed race, the event just seemed to slip through our fingers. We really haven't been as competitive as we should have been, so we're looking forward to getting back to our competitive form in the final two Champ Car events of the year."