TEAM AUSTRALIA FOURTH IN QUALIFYING Team Australia's Alex Tagliani is provisionally fourth on the grid after the first qualifying session for the fourth round of the Champ Car World Series in Portland, Oregon. The Canadian, who has been ...
TEAM AUSTRALIA FOURTH IN QUALIFYING
Team Australia's Alex Tagliani is provisionally fourth on the grid after the first qualifying session for the fourth round of the Champ Car World Series in Portland, Oregon.
The Canadian, who has been unofficially adopted by the team after marrying his Australian wife Bronte, battled changing weather conditions to produce a time that he believes he can further improve on.
It was important to record a solid time today as rain is predicted for the second qualifying session tomorrow.
Team Australia is a new Champ Car entry created for 2005 by veteran team owner Derrick Walker and Queensland-based businessmen Craig Gore and John Fish.
Tagliani is hoping to follow-up his recent podium finish at Monterrey, Mexico with a similar or better performance on the flat, but challenging Portland circuit this weekend.
The result in Mexico was the first top-three finish by an Australian-owned major international open-wheel team since Jack Brabham achieved the result in formula one in the 1960s.
Tagliani's team mate, young Australian Marcus Marshall, is one driver hoping that the skies are clear tomorrow.
Marshall was driving a Champ Car for the first time in damp and drying conditions and finished 17th on the list of 18 cars.
While he would have liked to have been further up the time sheet, Marshall was not that far away and only slipped from 15th in the last couple of minutes of the session.
RuSport pair Justin Wilson and AJ Allmendinger topped the time sheets from former Gold Coast Lexmark Indy 300 winner Paul Tracy.
Sebastian Bourdais was originally third in the session, but lost his fastest time after being found guilty of impeding one of Wilson's qualifying laps and ended up fifth behind Tagliani.
WHAT THET HAD TO SAY--..
ALEX TAGLIANI - #15 Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia
"I'm pretty happy with the result but less happy with the car," said Alex.
"We can definitely improve on that over night and because of that we left plenty on the table today.
"P5 (later position four) is a good first day of work, but the weather stopped us from really picking up from where we left off at the test here after Long Beach.
"Some moves in the right direction will see us right up there tomorrow."
MARCUS MARSHALL - #5 Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia
"I battled with mid-corner oversteer," said Marshall.
"My red tyres (softer qualifying tyres) did not come on like they usually do and the car was unbalanced in those last few laps It was weird.
"I got through the session okay but the lap time just wasn't there.
"We can tweak a few things overnight and try and really get on top of it before our final crack at it tomorrow."
CRAIG GORE -- CO-OWNER
"What a fantastic job by Alex," said Gore from his Gold Coast office, where he was watching the lap times in the early hours of this morning.
"The whole team is working together to fly the Australian flag for our supporters and sponsors.
"I think we are really turning plenty of heads up and down pit lane.
"Marcus is doing what is expected of him and keeping the car in one piece and learning as much as he can."
DERRICK WALKER -- CO-OWNER
"It was a really interesting qualifying session," said Walker.
"The weather did not allow us much in the early practice session, but the longer qualifying went the drier it became.
"Alex did a good job and is right there in the hunt and there is probably a bit left.
"Marcus did a solid job, but it was not easy for him the first time in those conditions. I am sure he learnt a lot today and can jump a few spots in final qualifying tomorrow."