TEAM AUSTRALIA GRAB PODIUM IN ONLY SECOND EVER CHAMP CAR RACE In only its second race ever in the Champ Car World Series, Team Australia flew the Aussie flag high to score a spectacular podium result in Monterrey, Mexico today with Alex...
TEAM AUSTRALIA GRAB PODIUM IN ONLY SECOND EVER CHAMP CAR RACE
In only its second race ever in the Champ Car World Series, Team Australia flew the Aussie flag high to score a spectacular podium result in Monterrey, Mexico today with Alex Tagliani taking third place in the Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix.
After qualifying fourth, Tagliani ran strongly from the outset and was a force to be reckoned with throughout the entire race.
Tagliani completed his fourth consecutive top five finish in Monterrey, but the result was not without drama. The Team Australia driver had to dodge several near misses including dodging a spinning Oriol Servia on lap 61.
He made the pass for third place on lap 73 on one of several late race restarts, moving ahead of Swede Bjorn Wirdheim.
Tagliani finished behind race winner Bruno Junqueira and fellow Canadian Andrew Ranger. He was able to keep his head as those around him were losing their's -- seven cars failed to finish due to contact.
Team-mate Marcus Marshall unfortunately was one of those seven. Marshall was running 13th on lap 39 when he made a move on local hero Mario Dominguez. The Mexican closed the door, forcing Marshall to take avoiding action rather than hitting him. Marshall took the grass in turn three, but clipped a kerb coming back onto the track, spinning the car.
Oriol Servia then hit Marshall who was left facing the wrong direction. A broken front suspension put the young Australian rookie out for the day.
The result is an outstanding start for Team Australia that is a new Champ Car entry created for 2005 by veteran team owner Derrick Walker and Australian businessmen Craig Gore and John Fish.
The new team aims to utilize the Champ Car World Series to provide Australian businesses with a marketing platform to promote their products or services to the North American market.
Team Australia is contesting the championship with major sponsorship from Aussie Vineyards, a new Queensland company established by Gore and Fish to export Australian wine into the US market. Aussie Vineyards was joined this weekend by the debut of legendary Australian bush outfitter R.M. Williams as a team sponsor.
ALEX TAGLIANI -- CAR #15
"When I signed on for Team Australia I knew we had great potential but I never believed we could be on the podium after only two races. Obviously it is fantastic for all the guys because they have put so much work into making this happen in such a short space of time.
"My car was really strong all day and it was actually a bit of a pity that we had so many yellows because I think we could have even finished higher.
"It certainly got a bit hectic out there towards the finish -- cars were spinning and crashing everywhere but I was able to keep out of trouble.
"For everybody involved from Australia in making bringing this team together with Derrick, this is just a fantastic result for our sponsors down under."
MARCUS MARSHALL -- CAR #5
"It was a great effort by Tag and I am just disappointed we didn't get to the finish because I think we were looking good for a top ten result.
"After one of the restarts, I made a move on Mario Dominquez in turn three and he turned in on me so rather than slam into him, I took to the grass. But coming back onto the track I hooked the kerb and it turned the car around. Oriol Servia then drove straight in and hit the front of the car.
"I really feel sorry for the guys because of all the work they have put in. I hate not finishing but this is another lesson to be learned as I begin as a rookie in Champ Cars. I am pleased that we improved the car for Sunday and I was able to race hard and challenge for the top ten -- that was my target."
DERRICK WALKER -- TEAM OWNER
"I am delighted with the result today. The team executed everything perfectly all weekend, everybody kept their cool and Alex did an outstanding job in keeping it 'on the island' and dealing with all the yellow flags and restarts.
"Our pit strategy was perfect -- it really couldn't have been better. It was a very well earned third place.
"Getting a podium finish so early in our program will have a very positive impact and considering when we started, how quickly everything has come together and the fact we are new to running the Lola. Getting a result like this is a major shot in the arm for us."
CRAIG GORE -- TEAM OWNER
"A finish like this is really beyond our wildest dreams. It is only our second race in the championship and to finish on the podium is just outstanding. We looked strong all weekend -- it is great for us, great for our home state of Queensland and brilliant for Australia.
"A result like this is an excellent reward for our existing sponsors and provides a valid proof point for the potential partners we are talking to at the moment. It is all about the business of motorsport for us and we proved today we are very serious about it."
JOHN FISH -- TEAM OWNER
"I think everybody knows the Aussies are here to make an impact! A result like this is a great platform to launch Aussie Vineyards in North America and a great day for our new sponsor R.M. Williams -- the Bush Outfitter who made their debut on the car today. Congratulations to Alex and all the team -- this is a great start and it can only go forward from here."