CHAMPCAR/CART: Houston: Team Australia race report

PAGENAUD SEALS TOP FIVE FINISH AS POWER RUNS OUT OF LUCK IN HOUSTON Team Australia has recorded the Aussie Vineyards team's fifth straight top five finish as rookie Simon Pagenaud sealed fifth place in the Champ Car Grand Prix of Houston...

PAGENAUD SEALS TOP FIVE FINISH AS POWER RUNS OUT OF LUCK IN HOUSTON

Team Australia has recorded the Aussie Vineyards team's fifth straight top five finish as rookie Simon Pagenaud sealed fifth place in the Champ Car Grand Prix of Houston in Texas today.

Pagenaud's Team Australia team-mate Will Power had a forgettable day, finishing one lap down in 11th position after a series of problems thwarted his efforts. Power now sits second in the championship behind three-time defending champion Sebastien Bourdais,

Pagenaud had a tyre valve break in the opening laps of the race, forcing the 2006 Atlantic Champion to pit on lap four with a deflating tyre.

From there the Frenchman worked hard at climbing back through the field in the #15 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01, with Pagenaud's fifth place continuing a streak of top five finishes for the team that began with Alex Tagliani finishing third in the team's home event, the Lexmark Indy 300 on the Gold Coast, last October.

The strong recovery vaults Pagenaud into the top ten in the series standings and places him equal fourth in the Rookie of the Year points after three races.

Reigning Champ Car Rookie of the Year Power could not take a trick in Houston. Power dropped back to third at the start of the race as rival Bourdais slowed in front of him after cutting the chicane, allowing Justin Wilson to pass.

In Power's first pit stop he lost three positions when the fuel nozzle jammed in the car, costing valuable seconds. Power was able to recover one position but problems with his Power-To-Pass 'boost' button system made it difficult for him to pass cars.

Power made contact with Wilson on lap 55, the Toowoomba-born driver taking responsibility for the collision, which occurred as Power tried to pass the RSports driver. Power pitted for repairs to the #5 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01, putting him off pit sequence.

Power then had further contact, this time with Mario Dominguez, as the Mexican exited the pits and was slower as a result of being on cold tyres. The incident dropped Power off of the lead lap as he again pitted for repairs on lap 72 of 93, including a new front wing, ending any hope of what was looking like a recovery to a top five finish.

Bourdais won today's race to jump ahead of Power in the series standings by five points. Bourdais' young American team-mate Graham Rahal was second with Dutchman Robert Doornbos third.

The Champ Car World Series now regroups after three consecutive rounds to start the season. Teams will reconvene at Portland International Raceway for the fourth round of the championship on June 8-10.

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY --

Will Power -- #5 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01

"It was an unfortunate race for us," said Power.

"On the first lap I knew what Sebastien was going to do and he went straight through the chicane and held me up in turn four, so Justin Wilson got me.

"We were on plan until our stop and were really slow on fuelling and lost a few positions. After that we were saving a good amount of fuel and had the opportunity to pass a few people.

"Wilson was quite a bit slower than us, but I went for a move that wasn't on and that was my fault and it went downhill from there.

"The guys did a great job and I wish I could have brought them home a better result. Now we go back regroup and keep putting it together."

Simon Pagenaud -- #15 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01

"On the first lap I was thinking, 'oh my goodness we are going to have even more bad luck', but we had a very good Aussie Vineyards car, especially on red tyres again today," said Pagenaud.

"They were fantastic for me and knew exactly what we needed for the car all the time. We came back through the field and I was able to pass some people in the first pit stop and I just drove as hard as I could while still saving fuel during the race.

"I just want to thank my Team Australia crew, because finally the monkey is off my back now. It's great to have a good finish in the top six, this was my goal in the beginning of the season."

Derrick Walker -- Team Australia Co-Owner

"Simon got the monkey off of his back," said Walker.

"Great job by the team and good recovery to come back and end up with a good solid finish.

"With Will, man, I hope we got that one out of the way, because it certainly didn't look pretty, not a lot to be proud of there.

"We had a lot going for us and I think we threw it away. Now we just have to go back to the drawing board."

Craig Gore -- Team Australia Co-Owner

"It was a pretty tough day at the office for Team Australia today," said Gore.

"Will again showed that he has the speed to be extremely competitive but things did not fall his way.

"Simon had a bit of bad luck early in the race today but showed plenty of spirit to fight his way back into fifth.

"I'm sure a podium for Simon is not that far away.

"For Will to be second in the championship after three rounds is obviously very pleasing, especially when we know that he easily could have been leading the championship after today.

"We now have several weeks off where we can regroup and make sure we have everything spot on as we head into the second part of the season.

"We might even have the chance to relax with a glass of Aussie Vineyards wine after a hectic opening three races in three consecutive weeks."

-credit: taus

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Alex Tagliani , Graham Rahal , Sébastien Bourdais , Will Power , Simon Pagenaud