CHAMPCAR/CART: Mexico City: PKV Racing race report



MEXICO CITY, MEXICO -- SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2006 -- Round #14 -- 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing's Oriol Seriva concluded the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season with a sixth place showing at the Grand Premio Telmex at Autodromo Hermanos Rodrigues in Mexico City, Mexico. Teammate Katherine Legge placed 16th.

Servia, who pilots the #6 Gulfstream -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine, had to battle back from an opening lap incident, which forced him to pit for a new wing, but still manage to earn his eight top ten performance of the season. Servia finished the 2006 season 11th in the points with 197, just three points out of 10th place and 22 points out of fifth. Legge, who was behind the wheel of the #20 Bell Micro -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone car, also had an opening lap incident when she was hit from behind by Mexico's Mario Dominguez forcing her to pit two times for repairs and dropping her two laps off the pace.

Servia, who started seventh, got a run on Ryan Briscoe at the start of the race, but when a yellow flag was flown, for the Legge/Dominguez incident, Briscoe checked up and Servia, who was just pulling out to make his pass touch him. It took a couple of laps before the damage to the wing was apparent forcing Servia to pit. The Gulfstream -- PKV Racing crew did a fantastic job changing the wing and getting Servia out on the lead lap albeit in 15th place. When the fuel window opened shortly thereafter team management made the decision to pit immediately in the hope of gaining some track position later. The gamble paid off when the rain came 15 laps later allowing Servia to pit with the rest of the field for rain tires, but also take on less fuel then everyone else. Servia rejoined the contest in eighth place and then battled throughout the remainder of contest picking up two more places to finish sixth.

"Today's race went pretty much the way the whole season has gone for the Gulfstream -- PKV Racing team. We had a lot of things go against us. I don't want to call it bad luck, but things just seemed to happen to us. At the start of the race I had a good tow behind Ryan Briscoe. Just as I was pulling out to go along side to pass the yellow flag came out. He went off the throttle right away and I touched my front wing with his right rear tire damaging my wing. We had to stop to change the wing, which dropped us to 15th. I think we had a podium car today, but still we managed to finish sixth, thanks in part to a good strategy."

Servia, who completed his seventh Champ Car season today, was making his fifth start in Mexico City, his 14th for PKV Racing and the 112th of his Champ Car career. He has now finished in the top-10 four times in the five races on the challenging 2.781-mile, 16-turn Mexico City permanent road course. Servia has now qualified in the top-10 three times in five attempts with a best starting position of fifth earned last year.

The sixth place showing here in Mexico City was Servia's eighth top-10 finishes this season including four top-five showings and the team's only podium performance of the season a third place finish in Cleveland. In addition to the podium and today's sixth place showing, Servia finished fourth at Road America and Edmonton, fifth in Milwaukee, eighth in Monterrey and San Jose and 10th in Portland. In the six races he has not placed in the top-10, he DNF'ed (did not finish) every time, only once due to pilot error, and all six times he was running in the top-five when he went out of the race. Servia was exceptionally consistent in qualifying this year. The talented 32-year-old native of Catalunya, Spain qualified in the top-10 in 12 of the 14 races with five top-five starting spots. His qualifying record ties him with Jimmy Vasser and Cristiano da Matta for the most top-10 starting spots in a season, although Vasser and da Matta both did it in the 13 race 2005 season. Servia holds the team record for consecutive top-five starting spots with four, having qualified a season high fourth in Cleveland, fifth in Edmonton, Toronto and San Jose, but feel one short of tying the team record for top-five starting psotions in a season, set by da Matta last year.

Servia, a resident of Miami, Florida has now earned 59 top-ten finishes including 29 top-five showings, 13 podium performances and one victory (Montreal 2005). This year's 11th place finish in the final standings snaps Servia's streak of three consecutive seasons placing in the top-10. His best season was 2005 when he was the runner-up in the championship race.

Legge, who started 13th, got a tremendous start to the race moving in from of 11th place qualifier Dominguez at the drop of the green flag. Immediately thereafter, Dominguez hit her from behind sending the Bell Micro -- PKV Racing machine into the cement barrier shredding the front wing and damaging the cars electronics. After getting restarted, Legge limped the car into the pits where her crew sprang into action. After affecting repairs to the wing, Legge when back out, but was already one lap down. Two laps later she had to re-pit when it was discovered that she had a electrical problem, which set off alarms in the cockpit and knocking out most of dashboard telemetry. Pitting for a second time to fix the problem Legge lost another lap and was still without much of her telemetry. Never-the-less, the talented and determined Brit went on to drive brilliantly in the rain showing heart and skill throughout the remainder of the contest.

"My race came down the opening lap incident with Mario Dominguez," Legge said. "I cannot exactly be sure what happened until I have a chance to review the video tape, but from where I was sitting I moved ahead of him at the start of the race. Then I got hit from behind, which drove my car into the barrier shredding the front wing. That, of course, forced us to pit for repairs and ended any chance of a decent finish," she explained. "I feel especially bad for the Bell Micro -- PKV Racing crew because they worked very had and gave me a very good race car. It was especially good in the rain," Legge concluded.

Legge, who was competing for the first time in Mexico City, made her 14th career Champ Car start. The native of Britain qualified in the top-10 twice in 14 attempts this year (eighth on the oval in Milwaukee and on the Road America road course). She earned four top-10 finishes in 14 races placing a season, and career, high sixth at Milwaukee, eighth in her Champ Car debut at Long Beach eighth in Cleveland and ninth in Denver. The resident of Indianapolis, Indiana is third in laps completed (1094 of 1185) and ninth in laps led with 11. Legge is 16th in the standings with 128 points. She is fifth in the Roshrans Rookie of the Year race.

Commenting on her rookie Champ Car season Legge said, "It is an unfortunate way to end the season, but overall, other then the middle part of the schedule I think I had a pretty good year. I certainly learned a lot this year and I am really looking forward to competing next year in Champ Cars and building on that foundation."

Legge has established a number of Champ Car records this season. She is the first female to start a Champ Car/CART race since Lyn St. James at Michigan in 1995 and the first female to lead a Champ Car race (Milwaukee, 12 laps). Her sixth place finish at Milwaukee set a new Series high for a female driver (her eighth in Long Beach and Cleveland give her the three best finishes) surpassing a ninth place finish by Janet Guthrie at the 1978 Indianapolis 500. Legge won three races and finished third last year in her rookie season in the Atlantic Championship Series. Her victory in her debut Atlantic event at Long Beach made her the first woman to win a major open-wheel race in North America.

PKV Racing made its sixth and seventh starts and contested its fourth race in Mexico City today.

The team has now finished in the top-10 four times with a best showing of fifth by Mika Salo in 2003 and Vasser in 2004 (Vasser also -- sixth, 2005). They have qualified in the top-10 four times in seven attempts with a best starting position of fourth by Jimmy Vasser in 2004 (Cristiano da Matta -- fifth, 2005; Vasser -- 10th, 2005).

PKV Racing is expected to announce its off-season testing program in the coming days.

-credit: pkv racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Mika Salo , Mario Dominguez , Lyn St. James , Katherine Legge , Janet Guthrie , Ryan Briscoe , Cristiano da Matta