Two short weeks after his first Champ Car win, Cristiano da Matta became a victim and finished out of the points while his teammate Oriol ServiÃ stayed clean and got another top-ten finish. Cristiano da Matta spent the whole weekend in the the...
Two short weeks after his first Champ Car win, Cristiano da Matta became a victim and finished out of the points while his teammate Oriol Servià stayed clean and got another top-ten finish.
Cristiano da Matta spent the whole weekend in the the top-ten and was 2nd fastest in Sunday's AM warm-up. Unfortunately, the race was far from the high point of his week at Mid-Ohio. He started a respectable seventh and raced in the top-ten for the first two thirds of the race. Luck dealt him a blow as he pitted right before a full course yellow. Once the drivers who pitted during the caution returned to the track, the Pioneer car was back in eleventh. On lap 69 Alexandre Tagliani tagged fellow Canadian Paul Tracy right in front of da Matta. A gravel pit was the only path Cristiano could take to avoid the spinning Tracy. Unable to move the car, due to the lack of traction in the gravel, a Frustrated da Matta climbed out of the cockpit - his day was done.
One driver's misfortune can be another driver's benefit. Although disappointed for his teammate, Oriol Servia took advantage of da Matta's DNF. Two other cars were retired with Da Matta and that helped Servià move into the top-ten. Though he was lapped by the eventual winner Helio Castroneves, the Telefónica car had very competitive times at the end, as he set his fastest lap of the race on lap 79. Today's tenth place finish marked Servia's sixth top-ten of the season, all of which have come on road courses with the exception of his eighth place finish at Michigan.
The PPIM Champ Car teams will be back on track at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin next weekend.
Oriol Servià, #96 Telefónica Toyota-Reynard
Morning Warm Up: 20th
On the race:
"Tenth is a lot more than we started with. We knew it was going to be tough to pass and to pick up positions from 16th, especially without any chaos at the start. That would have been a double edge sword though, because I could have easily been caught up in it in 16th position. I tried my hardest to make up more positions, but it just wasn't there. My car felt pretty strong throughout the race, but definitely better as the race progressed, especially after my last pit stop. I finished my first race here, which I am proud of, because this place is really tough. I was a little sick when I arrived here, and I a definitely tired now! We will head to Elkhart, and see what we can do there - it too will be a very tough race."
Cristiano da Matta, #97 Pioneer Electronics/MCI WorldCom/Toyota-Reynard
Morning Warm Up: 2nd
On the race:
"Well, I was really driving car hard in the beginning, it was a lot of work. I had a lot of understeer in the keyhole and a few other places. I was doing my very best to conserve as much fuel as possible. It seems like some of these guys are getting terrific fuel mileage. I was really working at it to save as much as I did. Then on the re-start, I just chose the wrong side. I went behind Blundell and we were stuck in traffic with Tagliani and Tracey, and I lost two positions. If I had gone to the other side, I think I would have been able to gain a few positions. When the accident happened, I was trying to avoid Tracy, because he was spinning in front of me and I had nowhere to go but the gravel. Once I was in the gravel, I knew I didn't have much damage if any, but I could not get any traction to get out of there. It is very, very disappointing, especially losing positions in the championship."