CHAMPCAR/CART: Mexico City: Team Australia Saturday report

TEAM AUSTRALIA JUST MISS TOP TEN IN MEXICAN QUALIFYING The Aussie Vineyards Team Australia squad just failed to make the top ten in qualifying today for the final round of 2005 Champ Car World Series -- the team battling mid-corner understeer...


The Aussie Vineyards Team Australia squad just failed to make the top ten in qualifying today for the final round of 2005 Champ Car World Series -- the team battling mid-corner understeer aboard their trio of Lola-Ford Cosworth machines in Mexico City.

Alex Tagliani led the charge for Team Australia, recording the 11th fastest time of 1 minute, 28.089 seconds. His assault on the top ten was hindered with only a few corners remaining on his final lap in qualifying when Jimmy Vasser pulled onto the track after a spin - right in front of the Canadian who was on a flying lap.

Aussie rookie Will Power impressed during practice to record times solidly in the top ten. However, he was unable to repeat the effort as the times tumbled during qualifying. Power unfortunately hit the rev limiter changing up a gear coming onto the straight on his final attack -- affecting his straight line speed. The Queenslander will start from position 13 tomorrow.

Recently-crowned Toyota Atlantic champion Charles Zwolsman also suffered misfortune during the final qualifying session. The Dutchman suffered his first spin aboard a Champ Car while making his final qualifying attack -- bringing out the red flag and earning an eight minute penalty -- forcing him to sit out the remainder of the session. Zwolsman will begin tomorrow's race from position 18.

The final round of the 2005 Champ Car World Series kicks off in Mexico City tomorrow at 2.45pm local time (7.45am AEST).

"I am a little bit disappointed, the balance of the car is pretty good but we have a bit of understeer and when we take that out the rear gets pretty nervous. We have to work on the overall grip to try to get a bit quicker.

"We know what to do to gain some grip in the front but as soon as we do that, the rear doesn't take it. Trying to get a better balance and grip overall at both ends is what we are looking for.

"The Team Australia guys will look over the data tonight and see if we can try some more changes in the warmup.

"At the end of today's session I was on a pretty good lap and Jimmy Vasser spun off and came back on the track right in front of me which blocked me pretty badly. I don't think he did it on purpose. He copped a penalty of losing his fastest lap but that wasn't enough to move me up a spot."

"At the end we just came out at the wrong time and got the red flag when Charles had a spin -- I wasn't able get the most out of the tires then.

"My last lap was going to be the one but I hit the rev limiter coming onto the straight and didn't quite change gear in time and that affected my speed all the way down the straight.

"Tomorrow I just want to finish my first race for the Aussie Vineyards team -- that is my aim. These Champ Car races are longer than what I am used to in the World Series by Renault Championship in Europe -- those races are only 45 minutes. Getting a race finish will be an important learning step for me in preparation for next year."

"I have now completed my first Champ Car qualifying and also had my first ever spin in these cars -- that wasn't the way I wanted to finish the session.

"But at least I now know where the limit is. I am learning a lot this weekend and hopefully tomorrow I can can continue that education.

"The lap I spun was going to be quicker and maybe I could have move up a couple of spots but I am still looking forward to fighting it out tomorrow.

"I won't be starting up front but I will be taking a close look at what is happening at the first corner. Tomorrow will be a big challenge, I haven't been in a race car for two months and I am in at the deep end here, but I have no other option but to fight as hard as I can."

"We had a lot of work to do to try and make the car quick enough but we ended up a little short today. Qualifying at this circuit is quite difficult, but the race can be a different story -- race mode is a little easier to deal with here.

"The red flag was unfortunate and there was not much we could do about it when it was one of our own guys, but I really don't think it would have made much of a difference.

"We worked very hard to find the speed and just came up a little short. All three cars are handling pretty similarly but they are just not quite quick enough here. We will work very hard tonight to see if we can make up some ground before the race tomorrow."

"It is hard to believe we are already at the final race of the season. It only seemed like yesterday that we were in Long Beach making our debut as Team Australia.

"Certainly we would have loved to qualify a little higher today, but the guys have been working very hard to improve the car and I certain Derrick and the boys have more to come for tomorrow.

"I am tremendously proud of what Team Australia has achieved this year and can't wait for tomorrow's race.

"Season 2005 has been a tremendous building period and I am certain next year Team Australia will be an even stronger force in the Champ Car World Series."

-team australia-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Alex Tagliani , Charles Zwolsman , Will Power