CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland: Team Austalia Saturday report

BOTH TEAM OZ DRIVERS IN TOP 10 Team Australia's Will Power and Alex Tagliani have both qualified in the top 10 for tomorrow's fifth round of the Champ Car World Series at the Portland International Raceway in Oregon. Both drivers slipped a ...

BOTH TEAM OZ DRIVERS IN TOP 10

Team Australia's Will Power and Alex Tagliani have both qualified in the top 10 for tomorrow's fifth round of the Champ Car World Series at the Portland International Raceway in Oregon.

Both drivers slipped a little from their positions of yesterday, but are still in good shape now starting from seven and ninth respectively.

Bruno Junquiera will start from pole ahead of AJ Allmendinger and championship points leader Sebastian Bourdais.

Today's qualifying session saw the first three qualifiers separated by .015 of a second, the closest session since the 2002 event at Chicago Motor Speedway when Dario Franchitti, Tagliani and Cristiano da Matta also qualified within .015 of each other.

Junqueira also became the 15th different driver in the last 15 seasons to win a pole at Portland International Raceway. Emerson Fittipaldi (1992-93) is the last driver to win more than one pole at Portland.

Team Australia is hoping a little bit of history will repeat itself this weekend and it has enlisted the help of a good luck charm to help the cause.

Cummins Engines' Tim Solso and his family are guests of the team in Portland.

Cummins has had a long time relationship with team co-owner Derrick Walker and were a major partner at Walker Racing for six seasons.

Ironically, Mike Pawlowski, now engineer for Tagliani's #15 Aussie Vineyards car, came to Walker as an intern in the Cummins internship program 10 years ago.

Solso was trackside at Portland when Gil de Ferran won the race for Walker Racing in a Cummins-backed car in 1999.

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY--..

WILL POWER - # 5 TEAM AUSTRALIA/AUSSIE VINEYARDS LOLA

"We definitely had better luck in this qualifying session than in this morning's practice because we didn't get a lot of running time in due to some problems we were having with the suspension, but going into this afternoon we knew where the car was going to be," said Power.

"On the first set of tires we had a bit of an under steer problem, but my engineer Brandon (Fry) did a good job of sorting it out as he always does.

"The car did pretty well on (softer) red tires; it was well balanced, so seventh is a good starting position for us for tomorrow's race."

ALEX TAGLIANI - #15 TEAM AUSTRALIA/AUSSIE VINEYARDS LOLA

"Today we struggled a lot with the car and it's very unfortunate because we have been doing well this weekend," said Tagliani.

"I'm really disappointed about the whole thing; it's not where we want to be.

"Right now the car is not where we want it, so it's very frustrating because this is a place where we were quick last year and this year we are struggling with it.

"At the moment we just have to go back work hard and get the car better for tomorrow's race."

DERRICK WALKER -- CO-OWNER TEAM AUSTRALIA

"Overall this weekend so far, we have actually been cracking the Lola package quite well," said Walker.

"It's been short of the mark to the quicker teams, who obviously have a better set-up, but overall for our performance we are tracking it quite well.

"Will did a terrific job in getting the best out of the car and in getting seventh. Alex on the other hand didn't have so much going for him. So he's gotten a little further back.

"We were fortunate to win the Portland race in 1999 with Gil De Ferran, and the President and CEO of Cummins Engines at the time was Tim Solso.

"Tim hasn't been too many races since then and we are lucky enough to have him here. He is a Portland local, but he is based in Indianapolis at Cummins headquarters.

"He's here this weekend, and we are hoping the good luck that he brought us back in '99 is going to rub off this weekend."

CRAIG GORE -- CO-OWNER TEAM AUSTRALIA

"We took some small steps backwards in regards to our grid positions today, but tomorrow is a long race," said Gore.

"Portland always seems to offer plenty of challenges and I think reliability is going to be an important ingredient tomorrow.

"It will also be important for both our drivers to show some patience early in the race, especially at the opening corner which always seems to toss up something."

MIKE PAWLOWSKI -- ENGINEER #15 TEAM AUSTRALIA LOLA

"It feels good coming back to the team," said Pawlowski.

"I started at Walker about ten years ago, and I was in the Cummins internship program. Cummins and Walker have had a long standing relationship with one another, technical partners I like to call it.

"I was actually lucky enough to have that opportunity. I spent a few years with another team and now I'm back working for Walker and I'm very excited to be apart of it with Alex.

"The association with Cummins is still a strong one and I look forward to winning some races and to having a good season."

-www.teamaustraliamotorsport.com

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Bruno Junqueira , Alex Tagliani , Dario Franchitti , Emerson Fittipaldi , Will Power , Cristiano da Matta