WILL POWER THIRD IN OPENING QUALIFYING IN MEXICO CITY Team Australia's Will Power backed up his sensational home race performance in Surfers Paradise three weeks ago with the third quickest time in opening qualifying for this weekend's final...
WILL POWER THIRD IN OPENING QUALIFYING IN MEXICO CITY
Team Australia's Will Power backed up his sensational home race performance in Surfers Paradise three weeks ago with the third quickest time in opening qualifying for this weekend's final round of the Champ Car World Series in Mexico City today.
Power, born and bred in Toowoomba, Queensland, struggled a little in the morning practice, but some positive changes to his Aussie Vineyards Team Australia Lola allowed him to be immediately on the pace in the afternoon qualifying.
He continually traded provisional pole with Englishman Justin Wilson and then the pair were beaten to the top of the time sheet by reigning series champion Sebastian Bourdais in the dying minutes.
Power's team-mate Alex Tagliani was fourth fastest in morning practice, but was 14th in qualifying after electing not to use a set of his quickest Bridgestone "red" tyres.
The talented Canadian is expected to make some major gains in the final qualifying session tomorrow.
Power is on target to become the first Australian to win the Champ Car Rookie of the Year title. He currently leads English driver Dan Clarke by 15 points.
In the worse case scenario in which Clarke took the pole tomorrow and then won Sunday's race, Power would have to finish fifth or better to clinch the Rookie title.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY --
Will Power -- #5 Team Australia Aussie Vineyards Lola
"Until the lead up to the Australian race we had not done much testing," said Power.
"We did a shaker-rig test and that obviously helped us a lot, so we decided to do the same in the lead-up to this race.
"It is good to race another track for the second time. You just save so much time and your tyres when you go out on a track where you know your way around.
"This is my style of track. It's more of a European style which is fast and flowing.
"To be honest I have not thought a lot about the Rookie of the Year after we had such a good run in Australia. Our aim is to finish on the podium this weekend. I think the Team Australia crew really deserves that after all the work this year.
"At the same time, the Rookie title was our goal at the beginning of the year and we have the chance to wrap that up this weekend, so we won't be doing anything stupid.
"Everything has really come together at the end of the year for me and the team."
Alex Tagliani -- #15 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Lola
"In the beginning for pre-qualifying the car was a little bit loose so we went back to what we had in this morning's practice which wasn't the answer," said Tagliani.
"But on Bridgestone black tyres we were OK right away, about P6 and then most of the field put on the Bridgestone red tyres they gained and we stayed on the Bridgestone blacks.
"Hopefully it won't rain tomorrow because we have two sets of Bridgestone reds to run."
Craig Gore -- Team Australia Co-Owner
"I think today's effort really proved that what Will did on the streets of Surfers Paradise was certainly no fluke," said Gore.
"He was quick for the entire session and he probably still has a little bit left on the red tyres for tomorrow's final qualifying.
"He will certainly have a car to challenge for the pole again tomorrow and that is a great feeling for Team Australia and everyone involved in the program.
"A podium is a definite possibility this weekend, but we must not loose sight of the Rookie of the Year title.
"By the end of the weekend we might convince the Mexicans to get off the Margaritas and on to some quality Aussie Vineyards wines."
Derrick Walker -- Team Australia Co-Owner
"Good news and bad news," said Walker.
"We are really happy with Will and P3. He had a little bit of traffic on that run right at the end, otherwise we could have been on the front row.
"We don't have the car right yet for Alex. We need to get it right and better over the bumps, but the good news is if we had put a set of the Bridgestone reds on his car he would have been in the top six.
"So we put one with reds and one without, but now we have some good information for tomorrow."
-credit: team australia