CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland: Team Australia race report

FOURTH LIFTS CHAMPIONSHIP HOPES FOR TAGLIANI AND TEAM AUSTRALIA Team Australia's Alex Tagliani has driven superbly to finish fourth in the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland today, elevating him to sixth in the championship standings after ...

FOURTH LIFTS CHAMPIONSHIP HOPES FOR TAGLIANI AND TEAM AUSTRALIA

Team Australia's Alex Tagliani has driven superbly to finish fourth in the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland today, elevating him to sixth in the championship standings after an incident-packed sixth round of the Champ Car World Series.

Tagliani led 18 laps of the 95-lap race and was unlucky not to finish on the podium. A caution period came at just the wrong time for the Aussie Vineyards team's pit strategy. Tagliani has now finished in the top 10 six consecutives times at Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport temporary circuit.

The result takes the Canadian from ninth to sixth in the championship and Tagliani is only a further nine points behind fourth-placed Andrew Ranger, giving the Team Australia squad confidence for the coming races.

Tagliani's Team Australia team-mate Will Power also finished in the top 10, recording a ninth place finish to add to his championship tally. He lost a lap after pushing too hard on lap 75 and running off the track. The excursion damaged Power's front wing and the Queenslander had to pit to have it changed. Power lost a further position late in the race when on lap 85 he was hit by Nelson Philippe, with the Frenchman serving a drive-through penalty for the altercation.

AJ Allmendinger won his second consecutive Champ Car race in Cleveland, giving him a perfect race result record since his mid-season switch to the Forsythe team. Bruno Junquiera was second and Oriol Servia third.

Both Team Australia Lolas showed great improvement in speed on race day thanks to set-up changes from the Aussie Vineyards crew. The team and drivers will now look forward to Round 7 of the Champ Car World Series in Toronto, Canada on July 7-9, where Tagliani will be keen to get a podium result in his home country.

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY --

ALEX TAGLIANI -- #15 TEAM AUSTRALIA LOLA

"It was a crazy race," said Tagliani. "The positive thing is that I was really impressed with the set-up of the car today. We are making baby steps and have definitely made some improvements. Every time we went out on a new 'sticker' set of tyres, it took a long time for our tyres to come up to temperature. Once they did we were doing good lap times and we were able to catch Oriol (Servia) towards the end.

"I don't think that we had much good luck today because we were running first for quite a while and there was one yellow flag that cost us the race. If that yellow flag hadn't come up we would have had the chance to come home with the win. Strategy played a huge part in the outcome of the race.

"All in all I'm very proud of the team, they did a great job and we tried everything that we could. Overall I'm very happy with the performance of the team. Now we just have to regroup. We are back in the game and in the championship."

WILL POWER -- #5 TEAM AUSTRALIA LOLA

"The car was really good in the race," said Power. "We were really lucky at the start and we got up into a good position. I was running with (Oriol) Servia and (Justin) Wilson and we had a really good pit strategy.

"I was pushing hard to pass (Mario) Dominguez and made a mistake. I used the 'Power-To-Pass' button but carried too much speed into the chicane and came out the other side on the grass. It took the front wing off and put us a lap down. When we came out at the restart I got taken out by Philippe in turns three and four and I lost another position. That was it, the car felt very unstable after that.

"Overall we ran a good race and unfortunately ran into some bad luck in the end. Now we just have to focus on Toronto."

DERRICK WALKER -- CO-OWNER TEAM AUSTRALIA

"There were some amazing pit strategies going on out there today," said Walker.

"We had some really good ones, but unfortunately it didn't come our way for both of our drivers. Alex did an outstanding job, the team had a great strategy, the team's pit work was first class and fourth place was well deserved.

"For Will, we could have been second if everything had worked out, but unfortunately it didn't. We are in the hunt and that's great because we are back on track."

CRAIG GORE -- CO-OWNER TEAM AUSTRALIA

"It was nice to see Alex back on track," said Gore.

"To lead 18 laps of the race in the #15 Aussie Vineyards car and get such a strong result is great for his championship. The fact that he has jumped a couple of spots and is knocking on the door of the top five is very pleasing.

"I guess Will had a day he'd rather forget but there were plenty in that boat today. He is still up there in the Rookie of the Year standings and that title is the goal for him this year in the #5 Aussie Vineyards car."

-ta

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Alex Tagliani , Oriol Servia , Nelson Philippe , Andrew Ranger , Will Power