CHAMPCAR/CART: Houston: PKV Racing Friday report

PKV RACING'S NEEL JANI PROVISIONALLY QUALIFIES SEVENTH FOR SUNDAY'S GRAND PRIX OF HOUSTON HOUSTON, TEXAS -- FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 2007 -- Round ...

PKV RACING'S NEEL JANI PROVISIONALLY QUALIFIES SEVENTH FOR SUNDAY'S GRAND PRIX OF HOUSTON

HOUSTON, TEXAS -- FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 2007 -- Round #3 -- 2007 Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing's Neel Jani qualified seventh, while teammate Tristan Gommendy is 14th, on the provisional grid for Sunday's Grand Prix of Houston in Houston, Texas.

Jani, in the #21 Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone machine, qualified with a quick lap of 59.354 seconds (102.079 mph) on the tricky 1.7-mile, 10-turn Houston temporary street circuit. Gommendy, driving the #22 Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone car qualified with a fast lap of 60.348 seconds (100.398 mph).

Jani began the day struggling to get the Red Bull Gulfstream car working on the bumpy Houston course. He recorded the 12th fastest lap of the morning practice posting a quick time of 60.597 seconds (99.985 mph). However, during the 15-minute afternoon practice/pre-qualifying warm-up his car and times began to improve. At the conclusion of the warm-up, Jani had recorded the eighth fastest lap of the session turning a fast time of 60.413 seconds (100.290 mph). In qualifying Jani saw his times continue to improve. The Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing Team did the standard two qualifying stints with Jani running a seven lap first segment. He notched a fast time of 59.896 seconds (101.155 mph) on the fifth of the seven laps, which temporarily put him 11th on the provisional grid. Jani's second stint began with just under five minutes remaining in the 30 minute qualifying session. He ran five more laps posting his fast lap on the 11th of his total of 12.

"Everyone is very close," Jani said. "I think two or three tenths and the Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing Team would be fourth on the grid. So, every little thing counts," he noted. "We have definitely improved the car and found something with the setup that makes the car handle better on street circuits. The Red Bull Gulfstream Team still needs to do a least another step, and maybe two steps to catch Bourdais (Sebastien). I also think the driver needs to make another step and then we should be there. We will see tomorrow," Jani concluded.

Jani, a member of the Red Bull driver development program since 2005, was a test driver for the Scuderia Toro Rosso Formula One Team in 2006. While a veteran of European open wheel racing he is contesting his rookie Champ Car World Series season. After the first two races of the 2007 season, Jani sits 10th in the championship race with 28 points and third in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year standings. The 23-year-old native of Switzerland, whose father hails from India, has finished in the top-10 in both his starts this year placing 10th at the season opener in Las Vegas, where a mechanical problem in the later stages of the race prevented a better showing, and seventh last weekend in Long Beach. Jani has qualified ninth and 11th in his first two events.

Gommendy go a better start to the day than his teammate, but things went, literally, a little sideways from there. He was 10th on the speed charts following this morning's practice with a fast time of 60.367 seconds (100.366 mph). In the 15-minute afternoon warm-up, Gommendy dropped to 14th on the individual practice report for the session, 11th on the combined report, after turning a lap of 61.129 seconds (99.129). During qualifying his problems continued. Like his teammate, Gommendy ran two segments. He posted his fast qualifying lap on the fifth of his seven lap first stint. During his second stint, Gommendy pressed hard in an attempt to improve his time, but on his last lap, his 12th overall, he slid through the apex of one of the tricky and bumpy Houston corners and ended up in one of the runoff areas.

"This is a very tough street circuit because of the bumps and the Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing car had a handling problem today, which made things even more difficult for me," Gommendy said. "As a result, on my last qualifying lap I missed a corner and went into the runoff area. My engineer, Yves Touron, and I need to go over all the data and get the car right for tomorrow's qualifying, but I am confident that we will find a solution and move up the grid tomorrow."

Gommendy is also a veteran of European open wheel racing having won the 2002 Formula 3 France championship and 2002 Formula 3 Macau GP, but a rookie in the Champ Car World Series. The 27-year-old from Frenchman, who drove a Champ Car for the first time at Spring Training in March, is sixth in the championship race with 31 points and second in the rookie of the year race. Gommendy has finished fifth and 11th and qualified 11th and ninth in his first two Champ Car World Series events.

PKV Racing will be making their third and fourth starts while contesting their second Grand Prix of Houston. PKV Racing drivers have qualified in the top-10 once in two previous attempts (Oriol Servia started eighth at the inaugural event last year). They have a best finish of 12th, by Servia last year.

-credit: pkvr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Oriol Servia , Neel Jani , Tristan Gommendy
Teams Toro Rosso