CHAMPCAR/CART: Assen: Rocketsports race report

Rocketsports Team Just Did Not Get the Breaks They Needed in Assen Race The Rocketsports Racing team and Alex Tagliani just could not get the breaks they needed to salvage a better finish in the inaugural Champ Car Grand Prix of Holland in ...

Rocketsports Team Just Did Not Get the Breaks They Needed in Assen Race

The Rocketsports Racing team and Alex Tagliani just could not get the breaks they needed to salvage a better finish in the inaugural Champ Car Grand Prix of Holland in front of a huge Dutch crowd in Assen, The Netherlands.

After starting 12th on the grid, Tagliani dropped back to the 16th spot after a first-lap incident that he got in the middle of. There was some damage to the car, so the team took advantage of the yellow to come in for their first pit stop of the day for fuel and to check out the #8 Rocketsports Champ Car. Everything appeared to be fine, so the French-Canadian was back on track when the 17-car Champ Car field took the restart on Lap 4. For the next 11 laps, Tagliani was working his way from the 16th spot up to 14 before making his second stop of the day.

Just as the first yellow threw off the team's strategy in terms of pit stops, this yellow also hurt them. The team was trying to find a way to help Tagliani gain some track position and/or open track so that he could run quicker lap times, so they were going off sequence with the majority of the field. However, on Lap 14 when they were planning to pit Tagliani, a yellow flag came out and closed the pits. Once the pits were open on Lap 15, he lost the advantage as most of the cars ducked into the pits, which did not allow him to leapfrog anyone by going off strategy.

Tagliani was sitting P13 when he came in for his third stop of the day on Lap 31. However the rear of the #8 Rocketsports car was a little too far away from the wall in the pit box, which resulted in a fuel load issue. The #8 Rocketsports crew was unable to get enough fuel in the car, so they had to send Tagliani back into the pits on the following lap to finish filling the tank. That put him back into the 16th spot. He would obtain one more position before making another pit stop on Lap 47, but dropped back to the 16th spot after his stop.

On Lap 65 Tagliani grabbed a position overtaking the 15th spot, and had to make one more stop for enough fuel to finish the race since the team did not get the break they needed - this time they were hoping for a yellow so that they could conserve more fuel. The checkered flag dropped on Lap 69, and Tagliani was able to bring the #8 Rocketsports car home in one piece after hanging on to an unsettling car.

Tagliani earned six championship points this afternoon, so his Assen weekend was not a complete loss. He has a total of 180 points and sits tenth overall in the standings.

The team will head back to East Lansing, Michigan and enjoy a few weeks off from racing. However, they will not be on vacation, but rather preparing and packing for Round 13 of the 2007 Champ Car World Series, which will take place in the beautiful Gold Coast of Australia. The well-enjoyed Surfers Paradise Champ Car event will take place October 19-21.

Quotes

Alex Tagliani #8 Rocketsports Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone

"At the start, we got into the corner and there were a lot of people in and out. People were trying really hard and Paul (Tracy) was very aggressive. He spun, Bruno (Junqueira) spun, and I was in the middle of it. From that I hit Bruno in the hairpin and we damaged the front of the car. From that point on the #8 Rocketsports car was not very good. It felt crooked and it was just a tough day for us."

Paul Gentilozzi, Rocketsports Team Owner

"We tried to get a strategy that would put us back to the front, but every time we did it, a yellow came out and ruined it just before we stopped in the pits. So we weren't able to put Alex in a position where he could have made up some ground or run in free air to make some better lap times. After that, we had to save fuel to stay on the right strategy. Just nothing worked out for us between the damage making the car slow and the yellows coming out right as we were pitting. It was a day full of really bad breaks for Alex and the Rocketsports team."

-credit: rocketsportsracing.com

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Tagliani , Paul Gentilozzi