RAIN FAILS TO DAMPEN TEAM AUSTRALIA SPIRITS IN EDMONTON A torrential downpour and an on-track clash failed to dampen the spirits of Team Australia after final qualifying for this weekend's West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix of Edmonton today. Heavy...
RAIN FAILS TO DAMPEN TEAM AUSTRALIA SPIRITS IN EDMONTON
A torrential downpour and an on-track clash failed to dampen the spirits of Team Australia after final qualifying for this weekend's West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix of Edmonton today.
Heavy rain overnight left the new circuit awash and the continued downpour forced Champ Car to reschedule the practice and qualifying sessions with another huge crowd of 66,250 race fans in attendance.
Once the team finally got on track for qualifying this afternoon, Alex Tagliani was struck from behind by Mario Dominquez, ruining the Canadian star's qualifying attack.
Tagliani limped back to pit lane where the team had to replace the #15 car's left rear Bridgestone tire as well as repair damage to brake ducting.
The team were surprised to learn however, that Tagliani was docked his fastest lap for his role in bringing out the red flag. The penalty fortunately did not have a major impact as Tagliani was not on track long enough to improve on his lap from yesterday.
The incident was one of several which took place during the session with multiple red flag periods. Other drivers including Alex Sperafico and Timo Glock finished in the tire barriers.
The disjointed session ruined Marcus Marshall's hopes of improving his qualifying time after a gearbox issue curtailed his Friday qualifying attack.
Team Australia will now start 6th (Tagliani) and 18th (Marshall) in tomorrow's 88 lap race - the seventh round of the 2005 Champ Car World Series.
ALEX TAGLIANI - #15
TIME: 59.782 "The weather certainly didn't help today because we made some improvements overnight which could have improved my time. We had a good opportunity to move up in today's qualifying session and the guys on the team were very careful in letting me know about the oncoming traffic when I exited the pits and I let a couple of guys by. I was going through the chicane and suddenly Mario (Dominquez) came up and - bang - ran straight into me. It is only a one car chicane through there so I was just minding my business coming up to speed. I don't know whether I accidentally blocked his lap, but that is no reason to run straight into me. The biggest problem for our team is we don't have a spare Lola at the moment so I have to be careful to protect the only car I have and drive with my head. It really scares me because when something like this happens because if I badly damage the car, I have to jump in the Reynard chassis and I really don't want to do that. Luckily there wasn't a lot of damage and we will be fine for tomorrow. We have some more stuff to try in the warm-up that we didn't get a chance to check today but hopefully there will be no umbrellas in the stands tomorrow and we will have a good race."
MARCUS MARSHALL - #5
TIME: 63.811 - fastest time of 61.960 was disallowed "The good thing is my car is nice and straight but there were a lot of guys out there running into things in the session which kept bringing out the red flag. The bad thing is I didn't really get a shot to improve my time at all, so that was pretty frustrating. The track was really slippery when I went out in the practice session the car had a lot of understeer, but once the track started to dry with a bit of traffic, it certainly got faster and faster. When you go out it takes a couple of laps to get the tires up to temperature, but the red flag kept coming out just as I was about to take a shot at it. Nobody really got a chance to improve. Hopefully, all the bad weather is behind us now and we will have a good clean race out there. The reaction from the fans continues to amaze us all - the weather was miserable this morning, but the stands were still packed this afternoon."
DERRICK WALKER - CO-OWNER, TEAM AUSTRALIA "The weather really tipped everything upside down today and it certainly made for a very unproductive, yet quite interesting qualifying session today. It hurts us a little bit because we wanted to take another step with our dampers and we didn't get a long enough run to see what gains we have made. We think we have improved it, but I think we have a little more to come. It is the same for anybody so it could have been a lot worse. Thank goodness the incident with Dominquez wasn't more serious and did more damage. I think when you look at what happened out there today it is a bit of a good sign because the drivers are getting really serious and pushing really hard. Everybody has cranked it up another notch and taking a lot more chances. As far as the officiating is concerned, we were a little upset that Alex lost his fastest lap from today and we did lobby hard. You can't really argue with the umpire, but you can't blame us for crying a little bit when we get a bad call."
CRAIG GORE - CO-OWNER, TEAM AUSTRALIA "It sounds like the guys got a little damp this morning and that was certainly a little disappointing for the huge crowd. Pouring with rain and 66,000 people turn up on a Saturday at a brand new race! That is just great. Edmonton really has the potential to join the Gold Coast on one of the jewels in the crown of the Champ Car calendar. Nobody really got a chance to improve and Tag was obviously disappointed to be hit from behind, but I am really looking forward to seeing the race. Once again, we have a great shot for the podium and one of these days we could even be a couple of steps higher! I can't wait to get back to see the guys at San Jose, but it sounds like Edmonton will certainly be one race I won't miss next year. This will be another prime market for Aussie Vineyards and judging from the response from the local community this weekend, Edmonton is a major opportunity for us to highlight the Australian product."