CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach: Team Australia race report

TAGLIANI THIRD IN LONG BEACH Team Australia's Alex Tagliani has made a fantastic start to this year's Champ Car World Series by finishing third in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in California. Tagliani's teammate Will Power, from ...

TAGLIANI THIRD IN LONG BEACH

Team Australia's Alex Tagliani has made a fantastic start to this year's Champ Car World Series by finishing third in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in California.

Tagliani's teammate Will Power, from Toowoomba, ran as high as fourth early in the race, but a couple of "rookie" mistakes saw him eventually finish ninth despite a couple of spins in his Aussie Vineyards Lola.

The race was won by defending series champion Sebastian Bourdais and Englishman Justin Wilson.

The result backs-up Tagliani's two podium finishes in Monterrey Mexico and Toronto Canada in 2005.

There was dramatic start to the race when a first-turn accident eliminated Paul Tracy, Oriol Servia and AJ Allmendinger. Bruno Junqueira was also involved, but lasted another four laps before having to retire.

This allowed Tagliani to go from seventh to third and Power from ninth to fifth by the end of the second lap.

A second yellow on lap 13 saw both Tagliani and Power pit. A quick stop saw Power jump past Mario Dominguez into fourth spot.

Power had Dominguez in his mirrors and overshot the braking marker at turn 1 on lap 36, but he avoided hitting the wall. He did loose a lot of time when his engine stalled.

Shortly after, another yellow flag was waved after Katherine Legge spun and stalled at turn five.

Tagliani went into third with a great pass on Dominguez on Shoreline Drive on lap 50 and held his position all the way to the chequered flag.

Power spun again on lap 57 at turn nine after his car "bottomed out" on cold tyres and locked rear brakes. He recovered to pick up a few places over the remaining 17 laps.

Earlier in the day Team Australia's Simon Pagenaud was fourth in the opening race of the Champ Car Atlantic season.

His young Australian teammate James Davison was 13th in a solid debut.

The race was won by Andreas Wirth from Raphael Matos and James Hinchcliffe.

The next round of the Champ Car World Series and the Champ Car Atlantic Series will be held in Houston from May 11-13.

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY--..

ALEX TAGLIANI - #15 AUSSIE VINEYARDS TEAM AUSTRALIA LOLA
"I anticipated the start a little bit but had to take three different lines coming into the opening turn with all of the action going on in front of me. We were lucky that we came out of it clean," said Tagliani.

"From there it was a case of sticking to our strategy and keeping my nose clean for the remainder of the race. All throughout the race the car was very consistent and it was good to reward the team for their hard work in the off season with a podium finish.

"With two new engineers in Team Australia this year I think we have a little more depth in our team and definitely more experience on board. I think we'll get more consistent in our results because of that."

WILL POWER - #5 AUSSIE VINEYARDS TEAM AUSTRALIA LOLA
"I was pretty happy with the weekend, but I just made a couple of mistakes too many," said Power.

"(Mario) Dominguez was attacking me and I just braked too late.

"Then I could not get out of the run-off area and lost too much time and ended up at the back of the pack.

"I got around three cars on the re-start, but the car bottomed out badly on cold tyres and I locked up and spun again.

"There is no doubt that I learnt a lot this weekend and I will carry that into future races.

"The car was quick, I was quick and my fitness level has been strong.

"I was able to push pretty hard and I am working better with my engineer in every session.

"We could have finished with a better result here, but we did finish and escaped with some points. I think we have some good times ahead of us."

DERRICK WALKER -- CO-OWNER TEAM AUSTRALIA
"Overall it was a pretty good day," said Walker.

"Alex made a good start and did what he needed to do to put himself in a position for a podium.

"Will probably tried a little too hard and got caught out a couple of times.

"He was a bit of a target because we were trying to save fuel, but he will certainly learn from that.

"I think Will had the speed to be fourth or fifth at the end of the day.

"We now have a couple of days testing at Portland this week, which will be a great opportunity for Will to get a lot more seat time."

CRAIG GORE -- CO-OWNER TEAM AUSTRALIA
"That was a fantastic start to the season for Team Australia an Alex in particular," said Gore.

"To be back on the podium in our first race of the season with only a couple of days testing under our belts is testimony to the team of people we have, led by Derrick (Walker).

"Will (Power) had a tough day, but people forget just how few miles he has under his belt in one of these cars.

"There is no one in the Champ Car paddock that does not think that Will cannot be a force to be reckoned with in this series."

-ta-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Bruno Junqueira , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Mario Dominguez , Will Power , Andreas Wirth , James Davison , Simon Pagenaud , James Hinchcliffe