CHAMPCAR/CART: Assen: PKV Racing race report

PKV RACING PLACES BOTH CARS IN TOP-FIVE AT THE BAVARIA CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX GOMMENDY FOURTH, JANI FIFTH PKV Racing places both cars in the top-five for the first time this season as Tristan Gommendy finished fourth and Neel Jani fifth today in...



PKV Racing places both cars in the top-five for the first time this season as Tristan Gommendy finished fourth and Neel Jani fifth today in the Bavaria Champ Car Grand Prix on the 2.83-mile, 14-turn TT Assen Circuit permanent road course Assen, Holland.

Gommendy, #22 Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone car, drove a steady, mistake free race in earning his best finish of the season. The 27-year-old resident of Paris, France has now finished in the top-10 five times, with two top-five showings, this year. Today's fourth place performance is his season high. Gommendy picked up one place for his efforts today and is now 11th in the standings with 140 points, 40 out of tenth place. He is fifth in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year race.

Jani, #21 Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone machine, had a much more difficult race. After getting as high as second he was almost done in by flying debris and then had to stretch his fuel to make it to the finish to extend his streak of consecutive top-10 finishes to eight. The 23-year-old native of Jens, Switzerland has now finished in the top-10 ten times in the 12 races, with four top-five showings and three podium performances. Jani remains seventh in the championship standings, third in the rookie of the year race, with 203 points, but closed the gap to fifth in the championship race to just six points and the margin to third to just 35 points with two races remaining.

Gommendy, who started third, was passed in the first corner by his teammate and dropped to fourth. Essentially from that point on he never put a wheel wrong, got solid work from his Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing team and ran the second fastest lap of the race to bring home his best finish of the season. Gommendy, who was making his first start at TT Circuit Assen, got as high as third and was never lower than sixth. His major drama came during the last stint when he battled with Bruno Junqueira for third place and felt that Junqueira used his push-to-pass, which had been declared unavailable to drivers early on in the race after Sebastien Bourdais experienced a malfunction when engaging the system. However, after reviewing all the data Champ Car decided not to take any action against any of the drivers that had violated the prohibition.

"Neel did a good start so I was in fourth place," Gommendy began. "The Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing car was very quick when I was alone and I made good fuel mileage. But, it was very difficult to follow people because of the slipstream. This is also a very hard track to overtake on," he explained. "What makes me upset the most is that (Bruno) Junqueira used his push to pass several times to fight with me at the end of the race and it was forbidden. I don't think that is fair," Gommendy said. "The Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing team did a good job all weekend. In the race I had a fantastic car. Fourth is not too bad, but I'm disappointed because the podium was really close and I want to finish on the podium."

Jani, who started a season high tying fourth, moved into second place at the start when he passed his teammate and Bourdais experience his computer problem. He ran in second until the first round of pit stops, which occurred during a yellow flag on lap 15. Six laps later he was in third place following Junqueira, who was out of sequence, and Wilson, when suddenly one of the cones that delineates the track flew into the air. Jani dodged much of the debris and continued on. However, on lap 23 he headed into a corner and when he applied the brakes, the car bottomed, sending it skidding through the turn. By the time he regained control four cars had passed through dropping Jani to seventh. He ran in seventh for most of the second and third stints. Then in an effort to try and pick up some additional places the team pitted for the third time early in hopes that a yellow would come out putting them in the lead. When the yellow did not materialize, Jani put all the knowledge and skill he has learned about saving fuel to work and managed to bring the car home. Once in the pits the crew inspected the undercarriage of the car and found a six inch diameter metal disc that weighs approximately two pounds impaled into the cockpit of the car. The disc was bent over so that when the brakes were applied it rammed into the ground. The other problem was that the disc was positioned in such a way as to disrupt the aerodynamics of the car.

"I had quite a good start to the race in the Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing car and ended up in second place," Jani said. "The car was good and I think I was quicker than Wilson. We were also getting good fuel mileage. The first pit stop went well, but then I was following some cars into a corner when a cone got knocked into the air. There were three pieces, the cone, a pole and a metal disc. I avoided the cone and the pole, but the metal disc got lodged in the chassis. A couple of laps later I was braking and the car bottomed on the disc, which was hanging down from the chassis, so I just went straight. That is when we lost four positions. The car kept bottoming, which made it very hard to brake. At that point we tried a strategy move to try and win the race, but could not get the yellow, so during the last laps I really had to save fuel to make it. I am disappointed because we lost at least a podium and possibly a win, but considering everything fifth place is not bad."

This weekend's race is the second of two consecutive events the Champ Car World Series is contesting in Europe this year. The two European races comprise the Phanos Resorts Champ Car European Cup, which was won by Newman Haas Lanigan Racing. PKV Racing finished in fourth place .5 points behind RocketSport/RuSports.

PKV Racing captured its third Sherwin Williams "It's all in the Finish Award" today. All three top awards have gone to the #22 Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing car. The #21 Red Bull Gulfstream car was second in Cleveland.

the Lexmark Indy 300, October 19-21, on the temporary street circuit in Surfers Paradise, Australia. The Lexmark Indy 300, Round #13 of the 2007 Champ Car World Series season, will be televised same day tape delayed on ESPN2 at 5:00 p.m. (ET).


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Sébastien Bourdais , Neel Jani , Tristan Gommendy
Teams Williams , Newman Haas Lanigan Racing