CHAMPCAR/CART: Monterrey: PKV Racing race report

PKV RACING'S ORIOL SERVIA FINISHES EIGHTH AT TECATE GRAND PRIX OF MONTERREY LEGGE PLACES 14TH MONTERREY, NUEVO LEON, MEXICO -- SUNDAY, MAY 21, 2006 -- Round ...

PKV RACING'S ORIOL SERVIA FINISHES EIGHTH AT TECATE GRAND PRIX OF MONTERREY

LEGGE PLACES 14TH

MONTERREY, NUEVO LEON, MEXICO -- SUNDAY, MAY 21, 2006 -- Round #3 -- 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing's Oriol Servia scored a season high eighth place finish while teammate Katherine Legge, who was derailed by a late race penalty, battled until the very last lap and finished 14th today at the Tecate Grand Prix of Monterrey in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.

Servia, in the #6 Gulfsteam -- PKV Racing Ford- Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone entry, came out of the car after the morning warm-up feeling very good about the changes the team had made overnight. He ran the sixth fastest lap of the session turning a quick time of 75.838 seconds (99.876 mph), but more importantly reported that the car felt "more connected and easier to drive." However, in the race with track temperatures soaring past 130 degrees, the 31-year-old native of Catalonia, Spain, could not generate the speed needed to race with the leaders. Servia, who qualified a season-high seventh, ran in seventh place until the first round of pits stops, on lap 25, when he lost one position, to local favorite Mario Dominguez. He moved back into seventh place on lap 31 when Bruno Junqueira was accessed a drive through penalty for blocking. Servia held seventh place until the second round of stops when he once again fell back to eighth losing the position to Andrew Ranger. The loss of position on both the pit stops was mostly due to PKV Racing's poor pit location, near pit in, and not a result of the work of his crew which is one of the best in Champ Car. Working with a car that lacked grip for much of the race on the slippery Fundidora Park permanent road circuit, Servia continued to drive mainly a defensive race for the remaining 22 laps and in the end was able to earn his best showing, and first top-10 finish, of the young 2006 season.

"The Gulfstream -- PKV Racing team is disappointed with our weekend," Servia said. 'The first two races we were much faster. In Houston we had the second fastest lap of the race--a super fast car and we couldn't finish the race. So at least here we were not the fastest out there, but at least we finished eighth and got some points. And, we needed the points because it is the third race of the season," he noted. "Obviously, eventually, we want the Gulfsteam -- PKV Racing car up there in the top-three in the championship, so a day like today when you can get good points when you do not have a fast car is important," Servia concluded.

Seriva, who made his 101st career Champ Car start, third with PKV Racing and sixth in Monterrey today, ended a streak of bad luck that had plagued him the first two races of the 2006 season. At the season opener in Long Beach, he was the innocent victim of a four car pile-up on the opening lap of the race and finished 18th. In round #2 at Houston, he became entangled with Alex Tagliani while attempting to pass for fourth place and was forced out of the race with extensive front end damage eventually placing 12th. Servia, who has qualified in the top-10 in all three races this year, seventh here in Monterrey to go with a pair of eighths in Long Beach and Houston. Today's eighth place finish was worth 15 points giving Servia 27 on the season and jumping him two places in the championship standings to 14th.

Today's eighth place finish is Servia's best showing, and third top-10 finish, in six races at Monterrey. He has qualified in the top-10 five times at Fundidora Park with a best starting position of fourth in 2003.

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 was behind the wheel of the #20 Bell Micro -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone car, spent the morning warm-up fine-tuning her car, practicing pit stops and getting a feel for changes to the track due to additional rubber and changing weather conditions. Her fastest lap came in at 77.571 seconds (97.645 mph) good for 17th on the speed charts, but that was incidental to the additional track time she got under what was essentially race conditions. In the race, Legge, who qualified 17th, picked up three spots on the opening lap when she passed Nicky Pastorelli and teammates Nelson Philippe and Dan Clark collided knocking Philippe from the race and slowing Clark. Unfortunately, on lap 12, Legge had her own off-track excursion, which dropped her back to 16th place. On lap 22, Legge moved into 15th place when Pastorelli was black flagged and given a drive through penalty for blocking. Legge remained 15 through the first round of pit stops on lap 25. She moved into 13th place when two other competitors were forced to pit for fuel several laps ahead of her allowing Legge to gain some track position. Pitting on lap 54, Legge got outstanding pit work from her Bell Micro -- PKV Racing crew and rejoined the race in 13th place. She stayed in 13th until lap 71 when track officials determined, in what many thought was a questionable call, that she was blocking Clark with whom she had been battling for several laps. Legge was accessed a driver through penalty and reemerged in 15th place. On the final lap, in a daring, bold and calculated move, Legge attacked Pastorelli, who was later charged with blocking and since it was the end of the race was moved behind Legge in the finishing order.

"The Bell Micro -- PKV Racing team had a really difficult weekend," said Legge. "I made some mistakes and we had a call go against us," she noted. "It's a shame because we ran at a good pace in the race. We had the seventh fastest race lap, so we are obviously very disappointed with today's result," Legge said. The Bell Micro -- PKV Racing crew did a great job this weekend. I just have to keep working hard, continue to learn and better results will come," she concluded.

Legge, who is in her first Champ Car season, made her third career Champ Car start and first in Monterrey (she competed in the Atlantic race at Fundidora Park last year qualifying eighth and finishing fifth) today. The Indianapolis, Indiana resident has now qualified 17th twice and 15th (at Long Beach) in the first three races of the season. However, it has been in the races that Legge has demonstrated the talent that led to her being promoted to Champ Cars after only one season in the Atlantic Championship Series. In addition to today's 14th place finish, Legge placed eighth in her Champ Car debut at Long Beach and 14th in Houston after being hit by another competitor while running 12th and apparently headed for a top-10 finish. In each race she has shown determination, speed and a willingness to compete. Legge earned seven points for her efforts today and is now 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 made its sixth and seventh starts in four racings at Fundidora Park today. They have now qualified in the top-10 four times with a best starting position of seventh by Jimmy Vasser in 2004 and Oriol Servia in 2005r. They have finished in the top-10 a total of four times with a best showing of sixth, last year, by Cristiano da Matta.

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, was on the sidelines for the second consecutive race. Vasser is actively working with both the drivers and the engineers. 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 last week in Houston.

Next up for PKV Racing is an open test on the Milwuakee Mile in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Friday, June 2. Immediately following the test, PKV Racing will contest the The Time Warner Cable Road Runner 225 in Milwaukee, June 3-4. The Time Warner Cable Road Runner 225, Round #4 of the 2006 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, willl be broadcast live on Speed at 2:00 p.m. (ET).

-www.pkvracing.com

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Alex Tagliani , Oriol Servia , Mario Dominguez , Lyn St. James , Katherine Legge , Janet Guthrie , Nelson Philippe , Andrew Ranger , Will Power , Nicky Pastorelli , Cristiano da Matta