CHAMPCAR/CART: Edmonton: Team Australia Friday report

HUGE FRIDAY CROWD GREET TEAM AUSTRALIA IN EDMONTON With an incredible crowd of 55,772 race fans on hand, Team Australia performed strongly in opening qualifying as the Canadian city of Edmonton made its debut in the Champ Car World Series ...


With an incredible crowd of 55,772 race fans on hand, Team Australia performed strongly in opening qualifying as the Canadian city of Edmonton made its debut in the Champ Car World Series today.

Champ Car fever truly gripped Edmonton and the race fans were treated to plenty of action on the new unique track that is part airport circuit, part road course and part street course.

Both Aussie Vineyards stars Alex Tagliani and Marcus Marshall suffered two spins each on the quick Edmonton circuit while key rivals such as reigning series champion Sebastien Bourdais, Paul Tracy, Andrew Ranger, Mario Dominquez and AJ Allmendinger all made contact with the wall.

Tagliani's fastest lap of 59.782 placed him sixth fastest today, but the Canadian was unlucky to suffer a spin with only two corners to go while on an even faster lap.

Australian team-mate Marcus Marshall was one of the fastest cars on track early in the session until he suffered a gear box problem which ended his session early.

Despite pulling off the circuit well out of harms way, race officials still decided to red flag the session with Marshall automatically losing his fastest lap of 61.960 seconds.

AJ Allmendinger set the provisional pole position and locked in a front row start for Sunday with a time of 58.628 seconds.

Both Team Australia drivers will have the chance to improve their grid position tomorrow during final qualifying. However, with rain forecast, that target could prove a difficult challenge

WHAT IS AUSSIE VINEYARDS/TEAM AUSTRALIA? Australia will again play host to the Champ Car World Series on the streets of Surfers Paradise for the Lexmark Indy 300 from October 20-23. This year will be the first year in the event's history that a full-time Australian team will compete for glory on home soil.

Team Australia is a new Champ Car entry created for 2005 by veteran team owner Derrick Walker and Australian businessmen Craig Gore and John Fish.

The team will contest the championship with major sponsorship from Aussie Vineyards, a new Queensland company established by Gore and Fish to export Australian wine into the US market.

The pair is looking to use the program as a tool for other Australian businesses also wishing to market their products and services into the US.

ALEX TAGLIANI "I took a strong shot at a lap for the front row and the time up until that point was really fast, but the car got loose and I spun. I had to keep my foot in it to keep it going because if you cause a red flag, you loose your fastest lap. The car is pretty good and despite the fact we are not as high up as I would like, I am very happy with our progress. The exit to the pit lane is a little tricky here because it is hard to see and I almost had an incident with 'PT' (Paul Tracy). Maybe they need a flag point a bit further up the road to signal to you whether somebody is coming down the straight."

"After today we have a bunch of data to look over which should prepare the Aussie Vineyards team a lot better for tomorrow. But overall I can't believe there are so many people here today. They have a first class organization here and to have an opening day crowd like this is really impressive. Edmonton is a great addition to the Champ Car calendar."

MARCUS MARSHALL "The practice session this morning didn't got so well, but we made some changes for qualifying and it was significantly better. On my third lap the tires were just coming up to temperature and I put down a 1:09.9 despite the fact I got held up a little by Andrew Ranger coming onto the straight - that probably cost me a half a second. But straight after that I lost rear drive and had to pull off. It looks like I lost third gear. I pulled the car way out of harms way, but they still put out a red flag and I lost my fastest lap which is a little disappointing. That wasn't the start we wanted, but the car is really good at the moment and I can't wait to get back in it tomorrow. The track here is really awesome - I love it. It really suits our car and I am really looking forward to racing here on Sunday. The crowd today here is amazing as well, I can't believe all the grandstands were full for qualifying."

DERRICK WALKER - CO-OWNER, TEAM AUSTRALIA "I think we are not far away. We didn't get the car as perfect as we need to get on the front row, but we certainly had a P3 or P4 car rather than P6 where Tag ended up. Marcus had a gear box problem which was unfortunate because he is stuck back at the back and his car was getting better and I think he would have edged up there a bit. The difficult thing if it rains tomorrow we won't get a chance to improve on today and we might be stuck with it. Marcus was also very unlucky to lose his fastest lap from the red flag. I think the officiating has been a little inconsistent and I don't think he deserved to lose his fast time because we deliberately had him pull right out of the way so he didn't interfere with the rest of qualifying. They decided to call the red to go and check the race track. We feel he should be reinstated and we have lobbied Champ Car about it. They heard our radio discussions that he could have broken a driveshaft and they imagined there were lots of driveshaft pieces out there on the track, but it was a gear box problem. Listening into our radio discussions shouldn't be the basis for throwing a red flag and penalizing a guy's lap time."

CRAIG GORE - CO-OWNER, TEAM AUSTRALIA "I really feel sorry for Marcus - when is his luck going to change? The guys said he was doing a great job in the car and was looking to move up the pack a bit today when he had a car failure. Those things will happen from time to time, but his luck certainly isn't running his way. Hopefully, he can get all his bad luck out of the way before Sunday. Tag as usual is right up and it is great to see Team Australia challenging so well at a new racetrack. But obviously the real stars today are the Edmonton race organisers, Kevin Kalkhoven and the team at Champ Car as well as the people of Edmonton who came in through the gate today. To have such a fantastic crowd on a Friday just goes to show how quickly this series is growing. Growth such as this reaffirms our decision to get involved in this championship and demonstrates the outstanding marketing opportunities for Australian companies with Team Australia."


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Mario Dominguez , Marcus Marshall , Andrew Ranger , Kevin Kalkhoven