CHAMPCAR/CART: Mexico City: Team Australia Saturday report

POWER QUALIFIES FOURTH FOR MEXICO CITY FINALE Team Australia's Will Power has put himself in a good position to win the Champ Car Rookie of the Year title after qualifying fourth for tomorrow's final round in Mexico City. Power heads into ...


Team Australia's Will Power has put himself in a good position to win the Champ Car Rookie of the Year title after qualifying fourth for tomorrow's final round in Mexico City.

Power heads into tomorrow's race brimming with confidence after taking the pole and then leading 13 laps of his home race at Surfers Paradise in Queensland, Australia three weeks ago.

His late-season speed has continued this weekend, despite the fact that he dropped one starting position from third to fourth today.

Power's team-mate Alex Tagliani will start eighth in tomorrow's race after improving six places in today's qualifying.

Tagliani made use of two sets of 'red' qualifying tyres after electing not to run a set yesterday and they enhanced some positive changes on the car overnight.

The Canadian actually started the session on reds and immediately took a second off his time from yesterday's qualifying.

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 won tomorrow's race, Power would have to finish sixth or better to clinch the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year title and become the first Australia to hold the prestigious award.

Clarke, who will start sixth tomorrow, had his best result this season at Denver where he finished third after front runners Paul Tracy and Bourdais took each other out in the dying stages.


Will Power -- #5 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Lola

"It was a good result, although we lost our way a little bit with the set-up for qualifying," said Power.

"We went backwards a little bit and did not improve on yesterday's time.

"We will have a good think about the car we need for tomorrow and hopefully we can sort it all out in the tomorrow morning's warm-up.

"I should not be too worried about the Rookie of the Year, but Dan Clarke is starting right behind me and we know what he is capable of.

"While saying that I am not expecting anything stupid from him. I think he is a fair driver.

"I think it will be sensible to be conservative to a point, collect the points and make sure we finish the race. If a podium opportunity presents itself we have to make sure we take it.

"I am probably a little bit disappointed because yesterday we had a car good enough for pole. We would have been happy with a second row starting spot a couple of months ago, but our performance in the last round in Australia has really lifted the expectations.

"If we had the chance to re-do today's session we would certainly improve on where we are. Now its all about the race car for tomorrow."

Alex Tagliani -- #15 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Lola

"We definitely made some improvements today," said Tagliani.

"Yesterday we didn't have the chance to try the Bridgestone red tyres, so today was brand new for us.

"When we tried them on the first run we were better and then we realised that the car needed some more. We tried to improve it on the second run we improved by a tenth, but it wasn't enough.

"The car in one of corners got a little bit nervous on me, I had to come off of the throttle and I lost about two-tenths of a second and then I lost another two along the straightaway.

"The Aussie Vineyards car is definitely competitive enough to be in the top three. Today we had the time on the table, but I'm really happy, we made a lot of gains and we will fight to get on the podium tomorrow."

Craig Gore -- Team Australia Co-Owner

"As stupid as it seems, it is actually a good feeling to be disappointed not to be on the front row," said Gore.

"That is really a true indication of how much this whole operation has grown this season.

"Will has done the hard work and put himself in a position to reach his goal of being Rookie of the Year. I am confident he will do everything needed to clinch the deal.

"I think Tags (Tagliani) is a real dark horse this weekend and I think we will have two cars in contention for a podium at the end of the day.

"Not that we need an excuse to be celebrating with some Aussie Vineyards products tomorrow night, but a podium would cap of a solid season for us."

Derrick Walker -- Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Co-Owner

"The guys made a lot of changes last night and have been working on the car, getting it closer to the car that he needs," said Walker.

"Both drivers need different things, so Alex made the gains.

"In Will's case, the track was a little different today and our car wasn't as well tuned to the track and the grip level. We made some changes and it may not have been in the right direction. They weren't major changes, the speeds and the type of track that it is here it just takes a notch or two, which can make the difference.

"Will didn't have the car to really improve much on his time. The reality is that both cars are really good cars and the race is a whole different ball game.

"You have to run your own race and to run as well as you can to win anything, including the Rookie of the Year title. We have a good car and this is Will's kind of a track, so I don't think Dan Clarke is a factor.

"We have to execute and if we execute I have no doubt that Will can end up rookie of the year. As always you have to do the best as you can and the results fall where they may."

-credit: team australia

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Will Power , Daniel Clarke