CHAMPCAR/CART: Edmonton: PKV Racing race report



EDMONTON, CANADA -- SUNDAY, JULY 17, 2005 -- Round #7 -- 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing had a tough race today at the highly successful West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix of Edmonton at Finning International Speedway, located at City Center Airport in Edmonton, Canada.

Jimmy Vasser suffered an off-course excursion, but battled back to finish 11th in the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone entry. Meanwhile, teammate Cristiano da Matta, in the #21 Bell Micro/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine, had a more difficult day suffering a mechanical failure early in the race and placed 17th.

Vasser, who started eighth, was running in seventh place when, on lap 24, the back end of his Gulfstream/PKV Racing came around sending him off track in Turn #5. After getting the car restarted, it stalled again, forcing a yellow flag so the safety crew to intervene and "bump" start him. With the pits closed because of the yellow, Vasser packed up with the field in 16th place and two laps off the pace. He regained and then lost one lap, but he and his Gulfstream/PKV Racing crew never gave up. Their efforts were rewarded as one competitor after another committed fatal errors leaving and when the checkered flag was finally flown, Vasser found himself in 11th, which earned him 10 championship points.

Following the conclusion of the race Vasser immediately began talking about the inaugural West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix of Edmonton, which reported attendance of 212,000 for the weekend. "I am in awe," he began. "For a first time event I have never seen anything like it. This is one of the most impressive weekends I have ever seen in my racing career," Vasser noted. "The promoters here in Edmonton did a fantastic job. The fans packed the facility every day and they were so enthusiastic and nice. It was just a great event for the fans in Edmonton and Champ Car," he said.

Speaking about the race Vasser said, "In the race I was running in seventh, but the Gulfstream/PKV Racing car was loose (understeering). I went into Turn #5 and the back end just came around and I spun off. Even though the car wasn't handling well, it was my fault. I got the car restarted, but then it died again, so we lost some more time there. The Gulfstream/PKV Racing team did a great job in the pits and we battled back from 16th place to 11th, so we got some valuable championship points. We are headed to San Jose next, which is basically a home race for me, so I am counting on the PKV Racing team being strong at that event."

Vasser has now finished in the top-10 in five of the seven races this year with two top-five showings, a fifth in Milwaukee and a season high fourth in Toronto. He has qualified in the top-10 in six consecutive races and six of the seven events this year including capturing the first pole in PKV Racing's two plus year history, at Milwaukee. The 39-year-old Californian is sixth in the championship standings with 115 points.

Vasser, who is in his 14th Champ Car season, made his 225th career start this weekend which extended his record of consecutive starts to 204. The resident of Las Vegas, NV has finished 141 of his last 181 races and placed in the top-10 in 128 of his 224 events including 64 top-five showings. The 1996 Series Champion is the only owner/driver, one of four former champions and three Americans competing in the 2005 Champ Car World Series.

Da Matta, who started fifth, dropped to sixth place on the opening lap. He was running in sixth place and keeping pace with the leaders, when, on lap five, he began to complain of a problem with the suspension. The Bell Micro/PKV Racing team called him into the pits one lap later and changed the left front tire hoping that would solve the problem. However, as soon as he rejoined the contest da Matta immediately called in that the problem had not been rectified. He pitted again on lap seven with a mechanic failure in the left front suspension, which forced him from the race. Da Matta earned four championship points for his short day's work.

"I was running lap five and all of a sudden the Bell Micro/PKV Racing car started having a handling problem," da Matta said. "I think I had a mechanical failure with the front suspension. It is very disappointing because it is the third DNF (did not finish) in a row and that is not good for the championship," he noted. "It is really a shame because this was a great event. The track is good and the fans are fantastic. The Bell Micro/PKV Racing team will just have to find a way to win some races beginning in San Jose so we can get back into the championship hunt," da Matta concluded.

Da Matta has finished in the top-10 in three of the seven races this year. He has qualified in the top-10 in all seven events including three top-five starting spots (second in Cleveland, fourth in Milwaukee and fifth here in Edmonton). The 31-year-old Brazilian is now 10th in the standings with 88 points.

Da Matta, who is competing in his fifth Champ Car season, made his 86th career start today. The resident of Miami, FL, who opened the season with three top-10 showings in the first four events including a win in Portland, the first in PKV Racing history, has fallen on some hard luck the last three races. In both Cleveland and Toronto, he was the victim of incidents involving rookie drivers that knocked him out of the race. Today it was a mechanical problem. The 2002 Series Champion is one of four former champions and three Brazilians competing in the series.

After the first seven races of the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series season, PKV Racing has already established a number of team records. Da Matta scored the team's first victory in their two plus year history in Portland while Vasser earned the team's first pole in round #3 at Milwaukee. The two drivers have combined to set team records for best combined qualifying, first and fourth at Milwaukee and best combined finish, first and sixth at Portland. They have both qualified in the top-10 in six consecutive races for the first time in team history. Da Matta and Vasser have finished in the top-10 in the same race twice (eighth and 10th at Long Beach and first and sixth at Portland) this year and at least one of them placed in the top-six in five consecutive races (the streak ended today), which is also a team record.

Next up for PKV Racing is the Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose, July 29-31, on the temporary street circuit in downtown San Jose, Ca. The Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose will be televised live on SPEED Channel beginning at 4:00 p.m. (ET).

-PKV racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Cristiano da Matta