CHAMPCAR/CART: Mexico City: PKV Racing Saturday report



MEXICO CITY, MEXICO -- SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2006 -- Round #14 -- 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing's Oriol Servia qualified seventh for tomorrow's Gran Premio Telmex at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, Mexico. Teammate Katherine Legge will start 13th.

Servia, in the #6 Gulfsteam -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine, had a solid qualifying effort turning a fast lap of 86.068 seconds (116.029 mph), which dropped him one spot on the grid from yesterday's provisional qualifying, but earned him a team record tying 12th top-10 starting spot. Servia will begin the race on the inside of Row #4 tomorrow. Legge, who pilots #20 Bell Micro -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone entry, was one of the big winners in today's final qualifying. In yesterday's provisional qualifying the team gambled by not running the red alternate tire yesterday in favor of saving two new sets for today. The gamble paid off today when Legge was able to use two brand new sets of the softer, faster alternate tire to help her post a fast lap of 86.607 seconds (115.307 mph) and pick up four spots on the starting grid. She will start on the inside of Row #7.

Servia was sixth on the grid following yesterday's provisional qualifying with a time of 86.527 seconds (115.414 mph). During this morning's practice he again turned the sixth fastest time posting a fast lap of 87.479 seconds (114.158 mph), which also put him sixth on the combined report. In the 15-minute afternoon practice/warm-up, Servia turned a fast time of 88.109 seconds (113.341 mph), which placed him seventh on both the individual and combined practice reports. During final qualifying, the Gulfstream -- PKV Racing team, as they did in yesterday's provisional qualifying, went with a short two stint strategy running four laps each time. Servia took to the track for his first stint with 20 minutes remaining in the session. Running on used red alternate tires that had four laps on them, he posted a quick time of 86.337 seconds (115.668 mph) on the third of the four laps, placing him fifth on the speed charts at the time. The Gulfstream -- PKV Racing team went back out for its second stint with six and a half minutes to go, this time on new alternate tires, and three laps later, his seventh overall, Servia clocked his fast time.

"In a way I am happy because the last three laps of qualifying today were the best the Gulfstream -- PKV Racing car has felt all weekend," Servia said. "It was just on the last lap I could not put it together. I started the last lap slow, slower than my best lap. Then I got it so the lap was better, finally, at the end I lost it again. It is a really fine line on this track between over driving and being a too slow and I couldn't find that line today," he explained. "The car was .3 faster than we showed, but that is still .9 off the pole. Overall, we made up some ground today and I am confident we can have a good race tomorrow," Servia concluded.

Servia, who is making his fifth start on the challenging 2.781-mile, 16-turn Mexico City permanent road course, has now qualified in the top-10 three times in five attempts with a best starting position of fifth earned last year. He has finished in the top-10 three times in his previous four races placing a career high fourth last year, seventh in 2004 and ninth in 2002.

Servia is looking for another strong performance here in Mexico City tomorrow as he attempts to climb into the top-10 in the final championship standings. He currently sits 11th in the standings with 178 points, but is just five points out of 10th place and 31 out of fifth going into the final event of the 2006 season. Servia has finished in the top-10 in seven of the 13 races this year 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 the fourth place showing at Road America, Servia has finished fourth in 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.

Now in his seventh Champ Car season, Servia will be making his 112th career start this weekend. He has earned 58 top-ten finishes including 29 top-five showings, 13 podium performances and one victory (Montreal 2005). The resident of Miami, Florida, who has finished in the top-10 in the standings the last three years, is coming off his best Champ Car season placing second last year.

Legge was 17th on the provisional grid with a time of 87.720 seconds (113.844 mph) after the team gambled by not using the red alternate tire in yesterday's qualifying, saving them for a full out effort today. In morning practice she posted a fast lap of 88.231 seconds (113.185 mph), which placed her 15th on both the individual and combined practice reports. During the 15-minute afternoon warm-up, she ran just five laps, among the fewest of any driver, turning a time of 88.494 seconds (112.848 mph) placing her 11th on the individual practice report and leaving her 16th on the combined report. Legge also ran two stints in qualifying running six laps each time. The Bell Micro -- PKV Racing team took to the track for their first run, on new red alternate tires, five minutes into the 30-minute session. Legge ran her fast lap of the stint on the fourth of the six laps notching a time of 86.819 seconds (115.026 mph), which put fifth on the speed charts at the time. Beginning her second run with nine minutes remaining, again on new alternates, Legge built her speed up during the first three laps then posted her quick time on the fourth lap of the stint and 10th overall.

"It was a very positive qualifying session for the Bell Micro -- PKV Racing team," Legge said. "Our qualifying position isn't fantastic, but I think we have a very good race car," she noted. "We could have easily been inside the top-10 had I not just pushed too hard. I was telling myself as I was going around not to push too hard, but I just over drove. So, that is my bad, but at least I recognize what I did wrong," Legge explained. "Like I said, I think we have a pretty good race car, so I feel positive about tomorrow," she concluded.

Legge, a rookie, who is competing for the first time in Mexico City, will be making her 14th career Champ Car start. The native of Britain has now qualified in the top-10 twice in 12 attempts this year (eighth on the oval in Milwaukee and on the Road America road course). She has earned four top-10 finishes in her first 12 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.

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 will be making its sixth and seventh starts and contesting its fourth race in Mexico City.

The team has now 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). They have finished in the top-10 three times with a best showing of fifth by Mika Salo in 2003 and Vasser in 2004 (Vasser -- sixth, 2005).

The Gran Premio Telmex, Round #14 of the 2006 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, October 20-22, on the streets of Surfers Paradise, Australia. The race will be broadcast live on SPEED Channel at 4:00 p.m. ET.


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Oriol Servia , Lyn St. James , Katherine Legge , Janet Guthrie , Cristiano da Matta