CHAMPCAR/CART: Mont-Tremblant: PKV Racing Friday notes



ST. JOVITE, QUEBEC, CANADA -- Round #6 -- 2007 Champ Car World Series season -- PKV Racing's Tristan Gommendy captured the provisional pole today guaranteeing him a front row starting spot for Sunday's inaugural Grand Prix of Mont-Tremblant, July 1, at Circuit Mont-Tremblant in St. Jovite, Quebec, Canada. Teammate Neel Jani qualified sixth giving PKV Racing its best qualifying effort of the 2007 Champ Car World Series season.

Gommendy snagged the pole with a quick lap of 76.776 seconds (122.898 mph) on the very fast and challenging 2.65-mile, 15-turn Circuit Mont-Tremblant permanent road course. Under Champ Car's qualifying rules, by claiming the top spot today, Gommendy and his #22 Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone car will start on the front row for the race regardless of what happens tomorrow. Jani, who drives the #21 Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone machine, also had a solid performance in qualifying today posting a quick lap of 76.931 seconds (122.650 mph)

Today's provisional pole continues the momentum established by Jani's third place podium finish last weekend in Cleveland, which was the first of the season for PKV Racing, and bodes well for their effort in this weekend's race. The Grand Prix of Mont-Tremblant is the first of three straight events in Canada and the second of a grueling five races in six weeks that may well determine whether PKV Racing can contend for a top spot in the 2007 season ending standings.

Gommendy, who continues to limp as a result of a knee injury suffered in a testing incident at Road America, started and ended the day fast. The 27-year-old Frenchman, who was third quickest on the Mont-Tremblant circuit during the Champ Car open test in May, was again third fastest, in this morning's opening practice session with a quick lap of 77.747 seconds (121.363) despite running just 11 laps. During the 15-minute pre-qualifying practice/warm-up, Gommendy dropped to ninth on the speed charts with a time of 78.733 seconds (119.843 mph), but remained third on the combined practice report based on his fast morning lap. In qualifying, Gommendy ran the normal two stints, but they were shortened to five laps each. He went on track for the first segment with 19 minutes remaining in the 30 minute qualifying session on primary (black) Bridgestone tires and notched his fast lap of the day on the last lap of the stint. Returning to the track with seven minutes to go for his second stint, this time on the alternate (red) tire, Gommendy could not improve on his earlier time.

"It feels good to win the provisional pole," Gommendy said. "It is the first time for me in Champ Cars that I am guaranteed a spot on the front row, so of course I am happy. I am especially happy for the team and my sponsors, Pay By Touch and MegaSpirea. I had the crash testing at Elkhart Lake and then another one in Cleveland, so the team has had to work extra. I am just happy that I was able to have a performance like this for them. I also want to thank my engineer, Yves Touron and my owner Jimmy Vasser. Jimmy did a great job finding me a gap to do my qualifying run."

Regarding the fast lap Gommendy said, "I ran my fastest lap on the first set of tires, which were the black ones (primary), but I didn't feel we had a lot of grip. So, for the second stint we switched to the red (alternate) tire, but the balance wasn't right and we didn't improve our time. However, we are still first and that is a good start for the moment."

Tomorrow, Gommendy, a Champ Car rookie, will attempt to score just the second pole position in PKV Racing's four plus year history and first on a road course (Vasser earned the team's only pole at Milwaukee in 2005). As for today's provisional pole, in addition to assuring himself a spot on the front row for the race Gommendy picked up one championship point. He remains 12th in the standings, and fifth in the rookie race, with 65 points. However, he is now just three points out of 10th place and 13 out of sixth. The talented and personable native of Paris, France has finished in the top-10 twice in the first five races this year placing a season high fifth in his debut at Las Vegas and seventh in Portland, where late race traffic thwarted a top-five finish. Gommendy is coming off a 13th place showing in Cleveland, where a crash nullified what was shaping up a solid top-10 finish. He has also finished 11th at Long Beach and 13th at Houston, but in both those races engaged in spirited battles for the lead with three-time Series Champion Sebastien Bourdais before making late race stops for a fuel. Gommendy has earned three top-10 starting spots this season; ninth in Long Beach, eighth in Houston and a season high fifth in Portland where he was the fastest driver in the rain on Saturday, but lost a front row spot when he skidded off-track bringing out a red flag (started 11th in Las Vegas and 12th at Cleveland). A veteran of European open wheel racing, Gommendy, who won the 2002 Formula 3 France championship and 2002 Formula 3 Macau GP, is fifth in laps led (31) and eighth in both laps (367 out of a possible 431) and miles (734.411 out of a possible 865.669) completed.

Jani, who was making his first appearance on Circuit Mont-Tremblant having missed the Champ Car open test in May, began the day sixth on the speed charts following the morning practice with at time (77.938 seconds, 121.065 mph). In the 15-minute warm-up, he jumped to third on the speed charts with a lap of 77.934 seconds (121.072 mph), which put him sixth on the combined practice report. For qualifying, Jani also ran the usual two stints going out for the first time with just over 20 minutes remaining in the session. Running on the primary tire, he notched his fastest qualifying time on the six and final lap of the first stint. The quick time lap initially put him fifth on the grid, however when he returned to the track for his second stint, again on the primary tire, he had fallen to sixth. Jani ran five more laps during the second stint, but was unable to improve on his earlier time.

"On my first set of tires I did my fast lap in the Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing car," Jani noted. "On the second stint I was actually .25 seconds up on my fast lap, but then I made a little mistake and caught some traffic. I don't think that lap would have been enough for the pole, because Tristan did a great lap, so congratulations to him," he said. "The good thing is we know we are fast. We just have to find a little more speed for tomorrow," Jani concluded.

Jani, who like his teammate is a Champ Car rookie, is currently ninth in the championship standings, fourth in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year race, with 69 points, but just nine points out of sixth place. The talented and determined 23-year-old has finished in the top-10 three times in the first five races this season. In addition to the third in Cleveland, he was seventh at Long Beach despite a fueling problem and 10th at the season opener in Las Vegas, where he was the victim of a mechanical problem. In Houston, after qualifying fourth he was running in fourth when he was knocked from the competition and placed 15th. Then at Portland, fuel mileage problems forced him to pit early and he ended up 12th. Jani has qualified in the top-10 in three of the five races this year starting a team/season high fourth at Houston, ninth in his debut at Las Vegas and 10th in Portland (11th in Cleveland and Long Beach). He is sixth in both laps completed (392) and miles completed (790.667). A native of Jens, Switzerland, whose father hails from India, Jani has been a member of the Red Bull driver development program since 2005 and was the test driver for the Scuderia Toro Rosso Team in Formula One in 2006.

There will be a practice session tomorrow morning at 10:15 a.m. followed by final qualifying at 2:00 p.m. The inaugural Grand Prix of Mont-Tremblant, Round #6 of the 2007 Champ Car World Series season, will be held, Sunday 1 at 2:00 p.m. (ET) and will be televised live on ESPN.

-credit: pkvracing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Neel Jani , Tristan Gommendy
Teams Toro Rosso