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



ST. JOVITE, QUEBEC, CANADA -- Round #6 -- 2007 Champ Car World Series season -- PKV Racing's Tristan Gommendy captured the pole for tomorrow's inaugural Grand Prix of Mont-Tremblant on the challenging 2.65-mile, 15-turn Circuit Mont-Tremblant permanent road course in St. Jovite, Quebec, Canada. Teammate Neel Jani will start sixth.

Heavy rain greeted the teams at the start of today's final qualifying allowing Gommendy, in the #22 Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone car, to sit out the entire session and take the pole based on his fast time of 76.776 seconds (122.898 mph) in yesterday's provisional qualifying. Gommendy's pole is the second in PKV Racing in its four plus year history and first on a road course. Team co-owner and former driver Jimmy Vasser recorded the first pole on June 3, 2005 on the Milwaukee Mile oval. It is also the first time a PKV Racing entry has earned a front row starting spot since Cristiano da Matta qualified second at Cleveland on June 25th, 2005. Jani, #21 Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone machine, qualified sixth with a quick lap of 76.931seconds (122.650 mph), again recorded yesterday, and will start on the outside of Row #3. The first and sixth place starting positions are the second best combined qualifying effort by a pair of PKV Racing drivers and the best on a road course. The best combined qualifying effort was recorded by Vasser, pole, and da Matta, fourth, at Milwaukee in 2005.

Today's pole along with Jani's third place podium finish last week in Cleveland, the first of the season for PKV Racing, gives the team significant momentum as they fight their way through this grueling segment of the season, which finds the team contesting five races in six weeks.

Gommendy started the day guaranteed a front row starting spot after taking the provisional pole yesterday. With a spot at the front of the grid a foregone conclusion, the Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing team spent the morning practice working on race setups. Gommendy, who ran just 16 laps due to an oil leak, finished the session 15th on the individual practice report with a time of 77.893 seconds (121.135 mph), which put him 14th on the combined report. Following the morning practice the team virtually rebuilt the entire back end of the car except the gearbox, rolling it into the pit box just after the start of the 15-minute afternoon pre-qualifying practice/warm-up. Despite the late start, Gommendy wound up with the sixth fastest time notching a lap of 76.983 (122.567 mph), which put him 10th on the combined report. For final qualifying, with rain pummeling the track and nothing to gain, but everything to lose to, the team decided to sit tight and see what happened. What happened was no one came remotely close to Gommendy's provisional time and he retained the pole.

"I feel very good about taking the pole," Gommendy said. "It is good for the whole PKV Racing team. We have been working very hard all season improving the car. Then last weekend we were a little unlucky, so it was good to prove to everybody that we are quick. We were fastest in the rain in Portland and fastest when it was dry here in Mont-Tremblant, so feel we can compete for the pole every weekend. The next step is, hopefully, we can win the race tomorrow."

Commenting about today's rain Gommendy said, "I wanted to go out and run the car, but the team decided that it would be best to sit and see what happened. So, we sat."

Gommendy, who continues to limp as a result of a knee injury suffered in a testing incident at Road America, is just the third Champ Car rookie since 2001 to capture a pole (Bruno Junqueira, Nazareth -- 2001; Dan Clarke, Elkhart Lake -- 2006 and Will Power, Australia -- 2006). The 27-year-old Frenchman has now qualified in the top-10 four times in six attempts. In addition to today's pole, he has qualified fifth in Portland where he was the fastest in the rain on Saturday, but lost a front row spot when he caused a red flag; eighth in Houston and ninth in Long Beach, (started 11th in Las Vegas and 12th at Cleveland). Gommendy has earned one point already this weekend for taking the provisional pole, but remains 12th in the standings, and fifth in the rookie race, with 65 points. He is three points out of 10th place and 13 out of sixth. The 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. 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 started the day sixth on the grid following yesterday's provisional qualifying with a quick lap of 76.931 seconds (122.650 mph). In morning practice the Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing machine appeared to be improved when Jani posted the fourth fastest time of the session running a quick lap of 76.726 second (122.978 mph), which also put him fourth on the combined practice report. In the afternoon warm-up Jani was again quick turning a fast lap of 76.838 seconds (122.799 mph), which was again good for fourth on the individual practice report and put him fifth on the combined report. However, in final qualifying the rain nullified any chance of moving up the grid unless Jani could turn the fastest lap of the session. Running two stints, one on Bridgestone rain tires and one on the Bridgestone alternate (red) tire, Jani knocked on the door getting to second on the speed charts a couple of times, but fell a little short when he was blocked on his final lap.

Commenting on today's final qualifying Jani said, "The Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing car was good during the final qualifying session. I think I could have gone for fastest lap today, but, unfortunately, on my last qualifying lap I ran into traffic when one of the drivers slowed down to get himself room for a fast lap."

Jani, who is also a Champ Car rookie, is making his first appearance on Circuit Mont-Tremblant having missed the Champ Car open test in May. He has now qualified in the top-10 four times in six tries starting fourth at Houston, ninth in his debut at Las Vegas and 10th in Portland (11th in Cleveland and Long Beach). The determined 23-year-old, whose talent is readily apparent, currently sits ninth in the championship standings, fourth in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year race, with 69 points. He is just nine points out of sixth place. Jani 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. 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.

The inaugural Grand Prix of Mont-Tremblant, Round #6 of the 2007 Champ Car World Series season, will be held tomorrow, Sunday, July 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 , Bruno Junqueira , Sébastien Bourdais , Neel Jani , Tristan Gommendy , Will Power
Teams Toro Rosso