PKV RACING'S QUALIFIES BOTH CARS IN TOP-10 FOR FIRST TIME IN 2006 SERVIA TIES SEASON HIGH STARTING POSITION LEGGE'S OVAL QUALIFYING DEBUT A SUCCESS MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN -- SATURDAY, JUNE 3, 2006 -- Round ...
PKV RACING'S QUALIFIES BOTH CARS IN TOP-10 FOR FIRST TIME IN 2006
SERVIA TIES SEASON HIGH STARTING POSITION
LEGGE'S OVAL QUALIFYING DEBUT A SUCCESS
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN -- SATURDAY, JUNE 3, 2006 -- Round #4 -- 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing will start both cars in the top-10 for the first time this season as drivers Oriol Servia and Katherine Legge qualified seventh and eighth respectively for tomorrow's Time Warner Cable Road Runner 225 on the Milwaukee Mile in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Servia, behind the wheel of the #6 Gulfsteam -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone car, qualified a season high tying seventh with a fast lap of 21.479 seconds (172.969 mph). He will start on the inside of Row #4. Meanwhile, Legge made her oval qualifying debut a success by placing the #20 Bell Micro -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone entry a season high eighth on the starting grid. Legge, who earned the first top-10 qualifying position in her four race Champ Car career, ran a quick lap of 21.594 seconds (172.175 mph). She will start alongside her teammate on the outside of Row #4.
Servia's qualifying effort was handicapped somewhat by a nasty incident in the second session of yesterday's open test. The 31-year-old native of Catalonia, Spain got off to a good start running the fifth fastest time in the morning test session turning a quick lap of 21.710 seconds (171.129 mph). However, four laps into the afternoon test, Servia experienced a mechanical failure entering Turn #4. The ensuing contact severely damage the right side of the primary car forcing the team to switch to the backup. The Gulfsteam -- PKV Racing crew immediately flew into action preparing the backup, but despite their yeoman effort a red flag late in the afternoon session prevented Servia from getting back on track. Driving the backup for the first time during this morning's practice, Servia ran a quick time of 21.571seconds (172.231 mph) placing him sixth on the practice report and 12th in line for qualifying (qualifying order is based on the reverse order of the morning practice times). Servia took the green flag for qualifying after the maximum of four warm-up laps. He slotted in at number four on the grid, but was subsequently passed by three of the drivers that qualified after him.
"Obviously, I wanted to be faster," Servia began. "The Gulfstream -- PKV Racing car felt good, especially in Turn #1, but I did have a little understeer in Turn #4 and that hurt us a little bit," he noted.
Servia went on to say, "Unfortunately, with the crash yesterday we had to focus on working on our race setup this morning. That meant we couldn't work on our qualifying setup, so I think we lost a little to the other drivers there. The other teams were able to work on their race setups yesterday and fine tune their qualifying setups this morning. We couldn't do that, but the most important thing is to have a good car for the race and I think we have that."
Servia, who is competing in his 102nd career Champ Car event, fourth with PKV Racing and sixth in Milwaukee this weekend, has now qualified in the top-10 in all four races this year. In addition to the pair of sevenths here in Milwaukee and two weeks ago in Monterrey, Mexico he has a pair of eighths (in Long Beach and Houston). Servia is coming off a season best eighth place finish in Monterrey, following disappointing outings in the first two races where he was the victim of incidents that knocked him out of the competition (four-car pile-up on the first lap in season opener at Long Beach, finished 18th; Houston, became entangled with Alex Tagliani while attempting to pass for fourth, placed 12th). Servia currently sits 14th in the championship standings with 27 points.
Servia's seventh place qualifying effort today ties his best starting position in Milwaukee achieved in 2003. He has now qualified in the top-10 three times in six attempts at Milwaukee. Servia has finished in the top-10 three times in five races placing second in 2003, seventh in 2004 and third last year.
Now in his seventh Champ Car season, Servia has earned 52 top-ten finishes including 25 top-five showings, 12 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 after placing second last year.
Legge, who is competing at Milwaukee and on an oval for the first time ever (although she did test on the Milwaukee Mile back in April), got extensive track time and valuable oval experience during yesterday's test running a total of 203 laps (102 in the morning session and 101 in the afternoon). The 25-year-old native Great Britain notched the 13th quickest time of the open test running a fast lap of 22.473 seconds (165.318 mph). In Saturday morning's practice, Legge improved both her time and position on the speed charts by clocking a fast lap of 22.023 seconds (168.696 seconds) placing her 11th on the practice report and seventh in line for qualifying. Saving the best for last, Legge was truly impressive in qualifying making almost a half second jump over her previous best practice time. Taking the green flag after four warm-up laps, Legge ran a 21.6 on the first of two qualifying laps, which was a considerable gain in its own right, only to come back with an even stronger effort the second time around.
"Today was a little tougher than other qualifying sessions because running on an oval is a new element for me," Legge said. "I ran a lot of laps yesterday during the open test and this morning in practice which gave me a lot of valuable experience. Each time out I got more track time, more experience and more comfortable. The biggest thing for me was, I just didn't want to hit the wall in practice," she explained.
Legge continued, saying, "I am also very lucky to have such a fantastic team behind me. They really made me feel comfortable. The team, Jimmy (former driver and PKV Racing co-owner Jimmy Vasser) and Oriol (teammate Oriol Servia) have been so helpful, it kind of makes it easier. Overall, I am pleased with the performance of the Bell Micro -- PKV Racing team today. I kept the car off the wall and I just did what I could do. The car felt phenomenal and I am happy with that, but there is more in the car than what we showed in qualifying."
Legge, who is in her first Champ Car season, will be making her fourth career Champ Car. Today's eighth place showing is a significant improvement over her three previous efforts. In the season opener in Long Beach the resident of Indianapolis, Indiana qualified 15th followed by 17th place starting positions at both Houston and Monterrey, Mexico. Today qualifying effort is more reflective of how competitive Legge has been in the races. In her Champ Car debut at Long Beach she finished eighth, then at Houston she was headed for another top-10 finish, when she was hit by another competitor, who was several lap off the pace. Following a lengthy pit stop for repairs, Legge rejoined the race and fought her way to a 14th place finish. Two weeks ago in Monterrey, Mexico, she ran as high as 13th, and appeared to be on the move, but after a questionable penalty for blocking she ended up 14th. What is most encouraging is that in each race, Legge has demonstrated the talent, determination and speed to compete. Legge is currently 12th in the championship standings with 29 points. She is third in the Champ Car rookie points race (Will Power -40 and Jan Heyland -- 31).
Legge is considered a rising star in the Champ Car World Series following a standout rookie season in the Atlantic Championship Series in 2005. She won three races last year in route to a third place finish in the standings. Her win in her debut Atlantic event at Long Beach made her the first woman to win a major open-wheel race in North America. Stepping up to Champ Cars this year she became
the first female to start a Champ Car/CART race since Lyn St. James at Michigan in 1995, when she took the green flag in Long Beach on April 9. Her eighth place finish at Long Beach established a record for highest showing by a female in Series history surpassing a ninth place finish by Janet Guthrie at the 1978 Indianapolis 500 (Note: The Champ Car World Series record book includes USAC Champ Car events back to 1909).
PKV Racing will be making it sixth and seventh starts in four racings on the Milwaukee Mile. The team has now qualified in the top-10 five times in seven attempts with one pole, by Vasser last year. They have finished in the top-10 twice with a best showing of fourth by Vasser in 2004.
PKV Racing co-owner/driver Jimmy Vasser, who earlier this year announced he would compete at Long Beach and selected other races during the 2006 season, will again be on the sidelines for the in his other capacity as co-owner of PKV Racing. The 40-year-old native of California, who is technically in his 15th Champ Car season, made his 232nd career and 211 consecutive Champ Car start in Long Beach. His consecutive start streak came to a halt when he did not run in Houston.
The Time Warner Cable Road Runner 225, Round #4 of the 2006 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, willl be run June 2-4 on the Milwaukee Mile in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The race will be broadcast live on Speed at 2:00 p.m. (ET).