CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland: PKV Racing preview

PKV RACING LOOKING FOR STRONG PERFORMANCE AT MAZDA GRAND PRIX OF PORTLAND INDIANAPOLIS, IN - - JUNE 8, 2007 - - PKV Racing drivers Tristan Gommendy and Neel Jani will both be looking for a strong performance at this weekend's Mazda Grand...


INDIANAPOLIS, IN - - JUNE 8, 2007 - - PKV Racing drivers Tristan Gommendy and Neel Jani will both be looking for a strong performance at this weekend's Mazda Grand Prix of Portland Presented by Joe's Sports and Outdoor, June 8-10, at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon.

PKV Racing drivers Gommendy, who pilots the #22 Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone machine and Jani, who is behind the wheel of the #21 Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone car, are both rookies in the Champ Car World Series, but each has shown the potential to score a podium finish. Gommendy has led two races, albeit due to strategy moves, but each time has more than held his own during spirited battles for the lead with three-time Series champion Sebastien Bourdias. Jani has produced the team's best qualifying effort of the season having started fourth in Houston while driving strong competitive races.

Gommendy, who entered the season with just one day of testing, has been one of the more interesting stories after the first three races of the 2007 season. The talented and personable Frenchmen has qualified in the top-10 twice and earned a fifth place finish in his Champ Car debut at Las Vegas. In the next two races, at Long Beach and Houston, he was running out of pit sequence, which led him taking over the top spot. There he fended off several charges by Bourdais before having to make late race stops for a splash of fuel.

Gommendy, while a Champ Car rookie is a veteran of European open wheel racing having won the 2002 Formula 3 France championship and 2002 Formula 3 Macau GP. The 27-year-old native of Paris, France, who has limited experience in a Champ Car having tested with the team for the first time in March, is ninth in the championship race with 39 points, 14 points out of fifth place, and third in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year race. Gommendy has finished fifth, 11th and 13th in his first three Champ Car events and qualified in the top-10 twice, starting 11th in Las Vegas, ninth in Long Beach and eighth in Houston. He is third in laps led, with 31, fifth in laps completed, with 231, and miles completed 462.479 also leaves him in fifth place.

"The Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing team tested twice in May, so I got some valuable time in the car which I really needed," Gommendy said. "I hadn't raced for about six months prior to signing with PKV Racing and I had very little testing time during the preseason, so the most important thing for me was to get as much track time as possible, work with the car and the team," he noted. "I think Portland will be a good circuit for us. I am not used to the street circuits, which we ran on for the first three races. The street circuits are bumpy and having raced my entire career in Europe that was new for me. The Portland permanent road course is the type of track I am more familiar with, which should make a big difference," Gommendy concluded.

Jani, who appeared on the verge of a breakout performance in Houston is primed for a very strong effort in Portland. The 23-yer-old native of Jens, Switzerland, who has been a member of the Red Bull driver development program since 2005 and was a test driver for the Scuderia Toro Rosso Formula One Team in 2006, is currently 14th in the championship standings with 34 points and sixth in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year standings. He is just four points out of 10th place and 19 out of fifth. Jani, whose father hails from India, has finished in the top-10 in two of his three starts this year placing 10th at the season opener in Las Vegas, where a mechanical problem in the later stages of the race prevented a better showing, seventh in Long Beach where a solid pit strategy worked, but he was hindered by a fueling problem and 16th in Houston where he was running in fourth place when Katherine Legge knocked him out of the contest. Jani has qualified in the top-10 twice in three attempts. In addition to the fourth place starting spot in Houston, he qualified ninth at Las Vegas and 11th in Long Beach. Jani is tied for ninth in laps completed with 201 and is ninth in miles completed with 402.906.

"I am looking forward to getting back to racing after the long break," Jani said. "The Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing team made good progress with our setups during the first three races of the season, especially at Houston. We also had a good test in Portland early in May (Jani was fourth overall). We didn't get everything we wanted to done at the Portland test because of the rain, but the data we collected will definitely help," he explained. "I am also looking forward to going to Portland because it is a type of track (permanent road course) that I am much more familiar with and during preseason testing the PKV Racing team had a good car on the permanent circuits, like Sebring."

PKV Racing will be making their eighth and ninth starts while contesting their fifth race in Portland. PKV Racing drivers have qualified in the top-10 three times in seven previous attempts with a best qualifying position of eighth by Jimmy Vasser in 2005. The team has finished in the top-10 five times with one win by Cristiano da Matta also in 2005.

-credit: pkv racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Katherine Legge , Neel Jani , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Toro Rosso