TEAM AUSTRALIA FIGHT BACK FROM TURN ONE CRASH Team Australia's hopes of successfully celebrating Alex Tagliani's 100th race in the Champ Car World Series today at Denver were ruined by a spectacular first corner crash. Tagliani's Aussie ...
TEAM AUSTRALIA FIGHT BACK FROM TURN ONE CRASH
Team Australia's hopes of successfully celebrating Alex Tagliani's 100th race in the Champ Car World Series today at Denver were ruined by a spectacular first corner crash.
Tagliani's Aussie Vineyards Lola was damaged when Cristiano da Matta attemped to charge down the inside at the first corner on the opening lap -- bouncing over Tagliani's right front wheel and landing virtually on top of Justin Wilson.
Da Matta's team-mate Jimmy Vasser also received significant damage in the accident.
After limping back to the pits, Tagliani climbed out of his #15 Lola as the Team Australia crew set to work on repairing damaged front suspension as well as bodywork.
After initially losing four laps, the Canadian returned to the race with his battered racecar but had to make two more lengthy pitstops to make further repairs to cure cronic understeer and ensure the car was safe to continue.
Tagliani eventually finished in 14th place, but was able to move up a spot to seventh place in the championship standings -- closing on Vasser who also spent the remainder of the day in and out of pit lane for repairs.
Aussie team-mate Marcus Marshall was able to dodge the first corner drama and moved from 18th to 11th on the opening lap.
The Champ Car rookie continued a relatively trouble free race to finish in 12th place -- exiting the car in a thirsty state after his in-car drink system which keeps the driver hydrated failed to work.
The Champ Car World Series will now head for Tagliani's home soil in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in two weeks on August 28.
ALEX TAGLIANI -- CAR #15
"I am really disappointed with the race start. I have no idea what Cristiano (da Matta) was thinking -- he came charging down the inside on the start where there was no room and ran straight over my front wheel, leapt the kerb and hit Wilson and Vasser.
"He basically hit everything that moved at the first corner.
"I am so disappointed for the team, that was not the way I wanted to celebrate my 100th race in Champ Cars.
"Team Australia did a brilliant job to get the car back out on the track and we were able to salvage a few points.
"The car was pretty badly beat up but the guys repaired it as well as they could. The understeer was really bad but being so many laps down, the only thing I could do was keep turning laps and be in a position to pick up some places if other people had trouble.
"We could have easily had a top five today but it wasn't to be. The Aussie Vineyards team will now set our sights on a great weekend in Montreal -- I can't wait to race back home again in Quebec."
MARCUS MARSHALL -- CAR #5
"I got a great start and I could see everybody was about four cars wide going into the first turn. I could tell something was going to happen and I hung wide then turned in early and was able to miss all the carnage.
"I made up a lot of places off the start and got up to 11th. During the race I didn't really have the pace I would have liked and it was a really tough trying to hang on -- every lap was like a qualifying lap.
"I am working very hard behind the wheel to squeeze extra pace out of it. With his experience, Alex is able to get a bit more out of the car.
"It has been a bit of a struggle for me but everybody at Team Australia has been a huge help so far.
"I am now really looking forward to Montreal. Alex has told me a lot about the track and been showing me in-car videos -- I really can't wait to drive on that circuit."
DERRICK WALKER -- CO-OWNER, TEAM AUSTRALIA
"It was real shame today because there was too much damage from the first corner for us to fix it and give Alex back a competitive car and get back out there and get a few places.
"It took us a while to repair it and make sure the car was safe to drive. The car was far from perfect but he was able to get back in and keep circulating. However, we lost too many laps to make an impact on the result sheet.
"Our guys did a really good job to repair the car and grabbing every last point is important because the spread through the middle of the top ten is very tight.
"Despite a 14th place finish, Alex was able to move up one spot in the points so that is a small reward for a tough day."
CRAIG GORE -- CO-OWNER, TEAM AUSTRALIA
"That was a tough one for the guys today -- Alex was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and got caught up in somebody else's accident.
"We really could have come away with the big chunk of points today if we had escaped the carnage -- especially considering how many top cars were hurt at the first corner.
"The pleasing thing for me again is how well Team Australia worked to get the car back out. A lot of teams would have parked the car for the day but our guys showed that never-say-die attitude that Australia is renowned for.
"Those couple of points could make a big difference at the end of the year."
TEAM AUSTRALIA -- FORMULA BMW
Team Australia's Formula BMW squad suffered an equally tough day in Denver after a promising performance by Perth youngster, Michael Patrizi.
After a problem in yesterday's damp qualifying session, Patrizi charged from 14th on the grid to move up to seventh place at mid race distance.
However, he was delayed after having to take avoiding action when four of the leaders crashed heavily, bringing out the yellow flag. After initially being instructed by race officials to resume in fourth place, he was later told to drop behind car #12 -- a car he couldn't find on the race track. Just before resuming under green, officials told Patrizi to return to fourth but the race began before he could resume his position.
He began a charge back through the field but was caught out when a car in front dislodged a tire barrier, leaving Patrizi with nowhere to go. He clipped the barrier which sent him into the wall.
MICHAEL PATRIZI - TEAM AUSTRALIA -- FORMULA BMW
"Today was pretty disappointing because we certainly had the chance to get on the podium.
"However, the entire experience of being part of Team Australia this weekend has been fantastic. Being able to listen into the Champ Car team on the radio and hear the discussions between Alex, Marcus and the team has given me a fantastic insight into the type of feedback that these Champ Car driver's provide their engineer.
"I am really thankful to Craig (Gore) and Derrick (Walker) for this opportunity. A podium would have been a great way to say thanks but it didn't work out for me today."