CHAMPCAR/CART: Houston: PKV Racing Thursday report



HOUSTON, TX -- FRIDAY, MAY 11, 2006 -- Round #2 -- 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing drivers Oriol Servia and Katherine Legge qualified eighth and 12th respectively during today's provisional qualifying for Sunday's Champ Car Grand Prix on the streets of Houston, Texas.

Servia, who pilots the #6 Gulfsteam -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone entry, which is powered by Ford/Cosworth, qualified with a quick lap of 60.268 seconds (100.949 mph) on n the 1.7-mile, 10 turn MSR Houston street circuit in Reliant Park. Meanwhile, Legge, who is behind the wheel of the #20 Bell Micro -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, turned in a fast lap of 61.831 seconds (98.397 mph).

Servia, was fifth on the speed charts following the first practice session, which began at 3:45 p.m., with a fast time of 60.972 seconds (99.784 mph). In the short pre-qualifying afternoon practice/warm-up, Servia posted a time of 61.032 seconds (99.685 mph), which placed him sixth on both the individual and combined practice reports.

"I am very happy with the Gulfstream-PKV Racing car," Servia said. "I think we have one of the top three or four cars out there, but with the way the session went, I just couldn't get a fast lap on my last run. Also, I was physically not feeling very well, so that had an effect on my performance. The car was faster than we showed and we were still only .3 of a second out of third. I just need to get a good night's rest and be ready for tomorrow because I know we can improve our position on the grid."

Seriva, who qualified eight in the season opener in Long Beach, but was the innocent victim of a four car pile-up on the opening lap of the race, will be making his 100th career Champ Car start this weekend. The 31-year-old native of Pals, Catalonia, Spain will be competing for the first time on the MSR Houston street circuit, but previously ran in Houston in 2000 and 2001 on a different track (best starting position of 15th and a best finishing position of in ninth both in 2000). Servia is also no stranger to night racing having run at night on the Milwaukee Mile oval in 2003 (started seventh and finished second) and 2004 (11th and seventh) and Cleveland airport street circuit in 2003 (fourth and sixth).

In 99 previous starts, Servia has earned 51 top-ten finishes including 25 top-five showings, 12 podium performances and one victory (Montreal 2005). The resident of Miami, Florida is coming off a career year in which he placed second in the championship standings. After starting the 2005 season with Dale Coyne Racing, he replaced Bruno Junqueira in the Newman/Haas Racing machine after Junqueira was injured in the Indianapolis 500. Servia made 11 starts for Newman/Haas, earning seven podiums including the win in Montreal, his first career Champ Car victory.

Legge, who is campaigning in just her second Champ Car race, first in Houston and first at night, began the day 12th on the practice report with a time of 62.133 seconds (97.919 mph). During the afternoon warm-up the talented and determined 25-year-old Brit ran a time 62.125 seconds (97.932 mph) placing her 12th on the individual practice report, but leaving her 13th on the combined report.

"For me, the first qualifying session is all about staying on the track," Legge noted. "I treat it like another test session. The other thing is, and I am sure everyone is saying the same thing, the red flags really messed the session up." Legge went on to say, "I think it was an average qualifying session for me, but the key is that I continue to learn and do better the next time it out. I think the Bell Micro -- PKV Racing team will be in good shape in tomorrow's final qualifying."

Legge, who finished eighth in her Champ Car debut at the Long Beach Grand Prix, is currently eighth in the championship standings with 15 points. Her start in Long Beach was the first by a female in a Champ Car/CART race since Lyn St. James at Michigan in 1995, while her eighth place finish established a record for highest finish by a female in Series history surpassing a ninth place showing by Janet Guthrie at the 1969 Indianapolis 500.

Legge, who is considered a rising star in the Champ Car World Series, burst on the open-wheel racing scene last year when she captured three races in route to a third-place showing during her rookie season in the Atlantic Championship Series. Legge won her debut event in the Atlantic's taking the victory in Long Beach, which made her the first woman to win a major open-wheel race in North America. The win in Long Beach earned her Southern California's Top 2005 Racing Moment of the Year Award. Legge also won the 2005 Atlantic Championship Series BBS Rising Star Award and was named the winner of RACER magazine's Most Promising Road Racer Award. In the off-season, Legge tested with Formula 1's Minardi Team, A1 Grand Prix's Great Britain Team and Champ Car's Rocketsports Racing. She subsequently tested twice with PKV Racing before signing on February 14th.

PKV Racing co-owner/driver Jimmy Vasser , who earlier this year announced he would compete at Long Beach and selected other races during the 2006 season, will be on the sidelines for the Houston Grand Prix in his capacity as co-owner. This will bring to an end his consecutive start streak at 211, which is a Series record. The 40-year-old native of California, who is technically in his 15th Champ Car season, made his 232nd career and 211 consecutive Champ Car start in Long Beach. After starting 12th, he succumbed to an engine problem and finished 14th in what may be his last Long Beach Grand Prix and, perhaps, his last Champ Car race.

Vasser, who joined PKV Racing in 2004 in the dual roles of owner and driver, stands among the leaders in most of the career Champ Car statistical categories including wins (10), podium finishes (33), poles (9), laps led (988) and earnings $12,076,744. He is known for being one of the most durable drivers in the paddock. In addition to his Champ Car record streak of 211 consecutive starts, his 232 career starts rank 11th all-time and place him second among active drivers. A determined and consistent competitor, Vasser has finished 145 of his last 188 races (dating to Milwaukee in 1995) and placed in the top-10 in 132 of his 232 events including 66 top-five showings and 33 podium finishes. The 1996 Series Champion, who is one of four former champions and the only owner/driver in the series, is a perennial championship contender having finished in the top-10 nine times including nine of the last 11 years.

PKV Racing will be making it first start on the streets of Houston, Texas. The team did not compete on the former street circuit.

There will be another practice session tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. with final qualifying set for 4:00 p.m.

The Champ Car Grand Prix of Houston will be held on a Saturday night, May 13 and will be broadcast live on Speed at 9:00 p.m. (ET).


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Oriol Servia , Lyn St. James , Katherine Legge , Janet Guthrie , Dale Coyne
Teams Dale Coyne Racing