CHAMPCAR/CART: Laguna Seca: PKV Racing race report

Mechanical Gremlins and Fuel Mileage Foil PKV on Monterey Peninsula MONTEREY, Calif. (September 12, 2004) -- Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is held in high regard by PKV Racing pilot Jimmy Vasser ( ...

Mechanical Gremlins and Fuel Mileage Foil PKV on Monterey Peninsula

MONTEREY, Calif. (September 12, 2004) -- Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is held in high regard by PKV Racing pilot Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). The California native put the wraps on his 1996 Championship run at Laguna Seca and considers the spectacular 2.238-mile course set in the Monterey countryside his home venue, but he could not overcome a gearbox failure today on Lap 10 of the 80-lap Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey and finished 17th. Teammate Roberto Gonzalez (#21 NII Holdings, Inc. Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) had his sights set on a top-10 run and a bonus point for moving up the most positions after starting 18th, but the rookie was left helpless in Turn 4 after his 750hp Lola sputtered to a halt after gasping for methanol on Lap 52.

Vasser gridded ninth and had already moved his Gulfstream-sponsored machine up to seventh by Lap 8, but pitted on Lap 10 after his experienced ears told him he had a gearbox going South.

"We're not completely sure how it happened," said Vasser, who made his all-time Champ Car record 194th consecutive start today. "We had a real rough sound coming from the gearbox when we increased the load on the car and tried to get the power down. It's a shame because we were looking for a good result in the Gulfstream car today. We could have had a real positive run and gained some positions in the point standings, but that's the way it goes I guess."

Gonzalez started at the rear of the 18-car field, but attrition and solid lap times saw him move up to as high as eighth by Lap 8. The Mexican rookie endured an encounter with Sebastien Bourdais, ran in the top-10 for most of the event, but couldn't reach the target Lap 53-63 mandatory pit window.

"We were running very strong, fighting with Bourdais and performing well with the frontrunners," said Gonzalez. "Bourdais got into my left rear tire entering the cork screw, which forced us to pit a lap early because of a cut tire. We lost some positions after that, but were able to conserve fuel at a good rate. It's a shame we didn't finish the race because we moved up nine positions after starting dead last. My guys did a great job and had a very quick stop on short notice when my tire went down. My hat is off to them, and we'll go after it again in Las Vegas in two weeks."

Next up for PKV Racing is Las Vegas Motor Speedway's 1.5-mile high-speed oval September 25th (Spike TV, 4:00 pm ET/PT) for Round 12 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford, the Bridgestone 400 Presented by Corona.

-pkv-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Sébastien Bourdais