TEAM AUSTRALIA READY TO FIRE AT NEW CANADIAN VENUE Team Australia heads to the second round of the July back-to-back Canadian double header in Edmonton this weekend confident of success at the newest venue in the Champ Car World Series. The...
TEAM AUSTRALIA READY TO FIRE AT NEW CANADIAN VENUE
Team Australia heads to the second round of the July back-to-back Canadian double header in Edmonton this weekend confident of success at the newest venue in the Champ Car World Series.
The Aussie Vineyards-sponsored squad had been running the Lola chassis for the first time in 2005, competing against teams with years of experience and data with that chassis.
However, this weekend's new event eliminates that disadvantage with none of Team Australia's competitors having any previous data at the new circuit which is know as Finning International Speedway - part of Edmonton's downtown City Centre airport.
Canadian star Alex Tagliani enters this weekend full of confidence after finishing 3rd and 4th in his past two outings in Toronto and Cleveland.
Rookie Australian team-mate Marcus Marshall also has his sights set on a top ten result after being "taken out" by somebody else's accident in Toronto when he looked set to break into the top ten for the first time.
Located in the Canadian Province of Alberta, this weekend's event is the first major international race event for the city which hosted the 1978 Commonwealth Games. Edmonton will also play host to the World Master's Games later this month.
Originally established in 1795, Edmonton was incorporated as a town in 1892 and a city in 1904. The former home of hockey great Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton is also home to the world's largest shopping mall - the West Edmonton Mall - the major sponsor of the inaugural Champ Car event.
"After our great result in Toronto last week, I can't wait to get to Edmonton for another Canadian race.
"Edmonton is a real hockey town and the sports fans have been really starved for action over the past year so the build up in the city has been fantastic. Ticket sales are apparently way ahead of their expectations so it should be a huge weekend.
"I have been out there for an event promotion and taken a look at the track and I am really excited about the week ahead.
"The layout is really unique - it is kind of a cross between Cleveland, a street track like Toronto and a natural road course like Portland.
"For Team Australia, this weekend gives us a great opportunity because everybody will be coming into this weekend with no previous data to fall back on and because this is our first year with the Lola, we will not be disadvantaged in that regard.
"The best teams have simulation computer programs which may give them a bit of a head start, but we should still have a great chance to make an early impression.
"Our plan is to continue our consistent run and continually challenge for the podium. The two DNFs I had at Long Beach (gearbox) and Portland (engine), really put me back in the points, but we are starting to claw our way back.
"If it wasn't for those, we would have been sitting right up there, but we have to keep working on the races ahead, not worrying about the past."
"I have a great opportunity this week because of the fact that this is a new race. It will be easier for the team and also easier for me because we will all be learning the circuit for the first time when we drive out of the pits on Friday morning.
"For me, this weekend is really something to look forward to.
"The Aussie Vineyards team has looked at the layout and we think we have good starting point on set up for Friday. Half of the track is really wide like Cleveland, but apparently it has all been resurfaced, so finding grip on Friday will be the challenge.
"It is going to be a bit like an ice hockey rink early on until some rubber starts to go down.
"Even after that, moving off line to try and pull off a pass will be tough because the track will still be very green when you stray off the racing line.
"I love the idea of back to back races and it is really good for me to be back in the car every week. The more laps I get under my belt, the more I learn.
"On Thursday we will walk around the track with our engineers and look at the lines, look for bumps, how high the kerbs are - stuff like that.
"We will also look at stuff like bumps in the passing zones as well.
"The guys on my #5 car are really keen to bounce back after being really unlucky to miss out on our first top ten in Toronto. Edmonton would be a great place to pull that off."
DERRICK WALKER - CO-OWNER, TEAM AUSTRALIA
"Certainly coming into this weekend we have a level playing field and every team enters this race with a clean sheet of paper.
"Our plan in practice will be to do a lot of laps to gain as much data as we possibly can.
"Normally in planning our race strategy we look back at past races and look at the number of yellow flag periods etc. Normally, this provides a pretty good indicator as to what to expect, but this week we don't have that to go back on.
"For this week, we have to make estimates on what type of track it is and look for similarities to other circuits.
"We have a good estimation on things like gear ratios and stuff like that which will already be in the car when it rolls of the truck. Once we take a walk around the circuit on Thursday, some of that may actually change before we drive out the pit lane for the first time.
"Going into this weekend is a lot of fun and great challenge for our team. Our guys continue to prove they are working together really well as a team and our ability to get on top of the right settings for this track quickly will be the key to success.
"Everybody plays a key role as a link in the chain - the drivers, the engineers, the mechanics - everybody needs to be at the top of their game and I am very confident our guys are up for the challenge."
CRAIG GORE - CO-OWNER, TEAM AUSTRALIA
"I am really excited about this weekend because we have a great opportunity to shine at a new track.
"Derrick, Rob (Edwards - team manager) and all the team have tremendous experience and I am certain they will have us on the right track in Edmonton very quickly.
"What the team has achieved in a very short space of time is nothing short of incredible and an amazing achievement for Australian motor sport.
"The support we are receiving back home, both from the media and the public, is really starting to grow and the Champ Car World Series is beginning to establish itself as a championship which is growing at an incredible rate.
"That is a real credit to Kevin Kalkhoven, Jerry Forsythe and all the team at Champ Car. The championship is a alive and well and those guys are committed to taking it to the next level.
"For our team the growth of the championship is playing a key role in demonstrating to our potential partners what a wonderful opportunity this is for Australian business.
"We are looking at introducing an internationally renowned new Australian sponsor in the near future for the team and are also in very serious discussions with a number of other major potential partners."