CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland: RSPORTS preview

RSPORTS READY TO ROCK AND ROLL IN CLEVELAND EAST LANSING, Michigan (June 18, 2007) -- Coming off a satisfying double top-five effort in Portland, RSPORTS is ready for more racing action this weekend at Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport ...


EAST LANSING, Michigan (June 18, 2007) -- Coming off a satisfying double top-five effort in Portland, RSPORTS is ready for more racing action this weekend at Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport circuit.

The RSPORTS team continues to show it is a front-running capable team in 2007, after Justin Wilson grabbed the team's first pole position in 2007 at Portland, while Alex Tagliani qualified fourth. Wilson's dominating first-half race effort fell short at the end of the event, as he finished second to three-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais. With Wilson's podium finish, and Tagliani's ability to grab another top-five result for the team, they head to Cleveland sitting fourth and fifth in the Champ Car championship standings, Tagliani and Wilson respectively.

The Burke Lakefront Airport circuit in Cleveland, Ohio offers a challenging 2.106-mile, wide-open 10-turn race track. This will be the 26th time that the Champ Cars "Roar by the Shore". This event is the longest tenure of any temporary race venue on the Champ Car circuit. Held on the runways and taxiways of the airport, it is the only airport in the United States that hosts such an event. Normally, a fully-functioning airport year-round, Burke Lakefront Airport is shut down for the weekend of the event - this year, June 22-24. Drivers regularly note this racetrack is one of the toughest to drive because they are racing on runway pavement, which generally has good grip once some rubber is laid down, but the drainage grooves in the airport runways can be tough on the tires and trap a lot of dirt. The track is also very bumpy, making it not only hard on the driver, but also the car's suspension.

The weekend will kick-off on Friday afternoon at 12:15 ET when the Champ Cars take to the track for their first practice session of the weekend. Provisional qualifying will take place that afternoon at 4:00 p.m. On Saturday the Champ Cars will head out earlier for another practice session, before participating in the final round of qualifying at 2:00 p.m. The green flag for Sunday's Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by LaSalle Bank will drop at 1:00 p.m., which will see the Champ Cars make their second standing start in series' history.

Fast Facts

* This will be the 8th time that Alex Tagliani completes in Cleveland. Tagliani has had five top-ten starts out of seven attempts. He has finished in the top five, four times, and in only one event did he not finish in the top ten.

* Tagliani's best start in Cleveland of fifth happened in 2004 and 2005. His best finish came with Rocketsports Racing in 2004, when he started fifth and finished third.

* At the drop of the green flag for the Cleveland Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by LaSalle Bank will mark the 122nd start for Tagliani, driver of the #8 RSPORTS Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone.

* In the last two events at Burke Lakefront Airport, Tagliani led the field for a total of 23 laps. The French-Canadian paced the field for 18 laps in 2006, and 5 laps in 2005.

* Tagliani currently sits fourth in the Champ Car 2007 championship standings with a total of 78 points. He trails current leader, Sebastien Bourdais, by 27 markers.

* Tagliani's best start of the season is fourth, which he has accomplished in three of four starts. The only time he did not start fourth on the grid was in Houston, where he qualified 11th. Also this season, Tagliani has three top-five finishes. His fourth-place result in Las Vegas marked his best finish.

* Justin Wilson will be attempting to make his 45th Champ Car start this weekend, which will mark his fourth visit to the Cleveland track.

* In three Cleveland visits, Wilson has been denied of finishing two of them due to contact. And those contact situations that ended his race earlier were a disappointment because they followed the Brit's best qualifying positions of 2nd and 3rd in 2004 and 2006, respectively. Wilson best, and only finish, in Cleveland is seventh.

* After a good weekend in Portland, Wilson who led 51 laps in the race, and at one point led the 17-car Champ Car field by over 18 seconds, found himself short for the win at the end, taking second place. Wilson earned his first podium of the season, the 11th in his Champ Car career.

* With the solid performance in Portland, Wilson moved himself up three spots in the 2007 championship standings to fifth, with a total of 69 points.

* Wilson earned his first pole position in 2007 at the previous event in Portland. That pole marked a career total of five Champ Car front row starts for Wilson, who is in his fourth year of competition in the Champ Car World Series.

* Wilson's best start this season was first in Portland, following his best finish in 2007 of second.


Alex Tagliani #8 RSPORTS Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone

"The Cleveland track is always a good one to race on. It truly provides a good race for not only the drivers, but the fans, as it offers a lot of passing and exciting race action. I am especially excited to race here with the new Champ Car DP01. These cars were built for a track such as Cleveland, one that has several high-speed corners. I am also excited to do the standing start in Cleveland because the track is so wide, there is going to be so much room for us and it should be a very good show. We are happy to consistently stay fourth in the championship, but when we leave this event I would like to see us sitting in the top three. I definitely think that we can win races and that we can win the championship, we just have to stay on top of our game and continue to be strong and improve each time we step foot on a race track. These next three events, Cleveland, Mont-Tremblant, and Toronto, should be good races for us, so I am ready to take on the challenge and hoping for some real good results."

Justin Wilson #9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone

"I really enjoy the Cleveland circuit. We hope that we can continue to be competitive in the #9 CDW there, after we had a promising run last year. We were fighting for the win, but when a steering arm broke close to the end of the race, our day ended early. It was disappointing, but I hope we can fight for the win again this year, and this time put the #9 CDW car in victory lane. If we can continue our positive momentum from our podium finish in Portland, then we can go out there striving for our first win of the season this weekend."

-credit: rsports

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Alex Tagliani , Sébastien Bourdais