CHAMPCAR/CART: Las Vegas: Team Australia Saturday report

WILL POWER ON POLE FOR CHAMP CAR OPENER Team Australia's Will Power has taken pole for tomorrow's opening race of the Champ Car World Series in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. Born and bred in Toowoomba Queensland, Power beat his nearest rival ...

WILL POWER ON POLE FOR CHAMP CAR OPENER

Team Australia's Will Power has taken pole for tomorrow's opening race of the Champ Car World Series in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada.

Born and bred in Toowoomba Queensland, Power beat his nearest rival today by an amazing 0.886 of a second and will start from pole alongside series veteran Paul Tracy, who claimed his front row spot after being quickest in yesterday's opening qualifying.

The effort today came after a mishap in qualifying yesterday which cost Power valuable track time and saw him finish the day seventh.

Today's result supports Power's maiden pole at his home race at the Lexmark Indy 300 on the streets of Queensland's Gold Coast last October.

Power then went on to claim his first podium in the final race of the year in Mexico and clinch the "Rookie of the Year" title as a result.

Power has been impressive in pre-season testing for the Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards team which is co-owned by Australian businessman Craig Gore and Indianapolis-based racing legend Derrick Walker.

Power's second career pole was just the beginning of the youth movement as rookies Robert Doornbos and fellow Team Australia driver Simon Pagenaud scored top-five starting spots while established stars struggled to find results on a warm Saturday afternoon in Vegas.

Power's track-record time of 1:17.629 around the 2.44-mile (3.93km) Vegas street course was nearly a full second ahead of second-placed Doornbos, who will start third in his first-ever Champ Car event.

Power and Doornbos were joined in the top three by Tracy who earned a front-row grid position by virtue of leading Friday's qualifying. The guaranteed starting spot ended up being a blessing to Tracy, who ran only the ninth-quickest time in Saturday's final round.

Power needed just four laps to eclipse Tracy's Friday-leading time, but nearly saw it count for nothing as a mechanical problem caused him to roll to a stop on the course with 10 minutes left on the session clock.

Luckily, Power's stoppage came after action had already been halted, with Sebastien Bourdais crashing and bring out a red flag.

Bourdais had been running second in the order and had posted a time that would have put him sixth on the final grid, but right-side contact not only left him unable to continue, it cost him his best time of the day and left him 16th on tomorrow's race grid -- the worst starting spot in his 60-race Champ Car career.

To seal the deal, Power came out after being towed back to the pits and ran his best lap of the day, setting the new track record.

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY--..

WILL POWER - #5 Team Australia Aussie Vineyards DP01

"We worked on it, worked on the setup all the way up until qualifying today," said Power.

"We pretty much nailed it at the end. We got a good run in traffic.

"Yeah, we did a mega lap. But it all started in the off-season. I think Craig Gore and Derrick Walker from the end of last year until now have been working really hard.

"They really want to win a championship. I want to help them achieve that.

"Hopefully today is the start of a memorable weekend for us and we can continue to fly the Team Australia and Aussie Vineyards flags.

"I knew what I wanted from the car and I knew that the track was gripping up so I anticipated that with the setup. My engineer, Dave Faustino, came up with a great package and we were on par, this is where we wanted to be for the first round.

"We have been working hard all winter and we've come out swinging."

SIMON PAGENAUD - #15 Team Australia Aussie Vineyards DP01

"It was kind of an interesting session for me today," said Pagenaud.

"I did good laps on my first set of black tires and then I started going too deep in braking everywhere. After all of that I tried to get good laps because I didn't have any good laps on my dash, so I decided to step back a little bit and drive more smoothly and then I got a P4 lap.

"The car was so good, I could have done a much better lap, but I'm really proud to be a part of Team Australia and what they have done this weekend is amazing.

"Will (Power) is P1, he did a blistering time and that's really good, which means the car is fantastic. We also did a really good job with my first qualifying in Champ Car, so I'm really proud to be apart of this program, thanks to all of the engineers and the mechanics."

DERRICK WALKER -- CO-OWNER TEAM AUSTRALIA

"We are delighted, this is what Craig and I have been fighting hard for the past couple of years," said Walker.

"We wanted to start running up front and there's no better place to be for our first race of the season than to be on the pole with a really huge lead over second place.

"It's a great start. Simon did a fantastic job, first race event for him. Coming into Champ Car and moving up, he has held his end up.

"The team has done a great job to support him and he just gets stronger and stronger.

"The only thing that could have been better for us today was a couple of Team Australia cars on the front row. It's going to happen."

CRAIG GORE -- CO-OWNER TEAM AUSTRALIA

"Awesome. I don't think there really is another word to describe today," said Gore.

"To be almost a second quicker on a track like Las Vegas and basically in identical cars is really a testimony to Will, Derrick and everyone involved with the Team Australia program.

"It was been a big weekend for us with the launch of Aussie Vineyards products across Las Vegas and hopefully we can all have a glass of wine tomorrow night to celebrate a big race result.

"It would be fantastic if the bottle of wine we have produced to be signed by every winner this year as part of Aussie Vineyards official wine of Champ Car status is signed by Will tomorrow afternoon."

-credit: teamaus

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Paul Tracy , Sébastien Bourdais , Robert Doornbos , Will Power , Simon Pagenaud