CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland: Team Australia preview

TEAM AUSTRALIA LOOKING TO CONTINUE RECENT SUCCESS Team Australia is looking forward to returning to its early-season road course form when it competes in round four of the Champ Car World Series at the Portland International Raceway in Oregon...


Team Australia is looking forward to returning to its early-season road course form when it competes in round four of the Champ Car World Series at the Portland International Raceway in Oregon this weekend.

After battling on the Milwaukee oval two weeks ago, drivers Alex Tagliani and Marcus Marshall are both looking forward to attacking the first permanent road course of the season in their Aussie Vineyards-backed Lolas.

While Marshall displayed good speed in his first two races on the temporary street courses at Long Beach and Monterrey, Mexico, it was Tagliani who showed his experience and lifted the newly-formed Team Australia to a podium finish in only its second start.

The result in Mexico was the first podium finish by an Australian-owned team in premier international open-wheel competition since Sir Jack Brabham in Formula One in the 1960s.

Marshall spent today as a guest of an Australian-New Zealand themed pub in Seattle, Washington, about three hours north of Portland.

The pub has become the home of a supporter base for Team Australia, according to owner Brad Howe, who has been in Seattle for 12 years after originally moving from Harden in country NSW.

After meeting the locals, Marshall joined them to watch a delayed telecast of the Queensland and New South Wales State of Origin rugby league match -- regarded as the toughest football series in the world.

"It was great to catch up with some Aussies here in Seattle and to see the supporter base we have among the ex-pats," said Marshall.

"Several of them are coming down to Portland at the weekend to help me fly the Australian flag."

Tagliani has flown into Portland after a week in Montreal Canada where he did several appearances during last weekend's Formula 1 race to promote the Champ Car event in the same city in August.

The talented Canadian, who has become an "adopted Aussie" after marrying his Australian wife Bronte, is a sporting star in his own country, which will host three Champ Car events this season.



"There is no doubt that I am really excited about heading back to Portland," said Tagliani.

"It is a terrific circuit with a good combination of mid and high-speed corners and a chicane over the back which I really like.

"The test we had there after Long Beach was solid and the team has been working on a lot of things since then so I am confident we will have good cars this weekend.

"I think the biggest issue is going to be the weather, because if it rains then everything goes out the window and you are starting all over again.

"The pre-event engineering meetings are going to be vital to ensure we have a good package to start with whatever the weather conditions.

"It was great for Team Australia to be on the podium in only our second race in Monterrey Mexico and I am looking forward to coming back strong this weekend after struggling a bit on the Milwaukee oval.

"I enjoyed being in Canada last weekend where I attended the Formula One race and did a lot of promotional work for the Champ Car race there in August.

"I think the hockey situation (a players strike) has been a big help for motorsport in Canada and I think we are going to have close to a sell-out crowd when we head to Montreal in August."

ALEX TAGLIANI AT PORTLAND 2004: Portland -- Start: 7; Finish: 7 2003: Portland -- Start: 5; Finish: 3 2002: Portland -- Start: 4; Finish 12 2001: Portland -- Start: 20; Finish: 12 2000: Portland -- Start 15; Finish: 13


"We tested at Portland the week after the opening race at Long Beach and I really enjoyed the place," said Marshall.

"I think I have come a long way since then and so has the team and that is always a positive thing to take to a circuit.

"I am looking forward to heading back to a "proper" race track after a couple of street courses and an oval in the first three rounds.

"Portland is a fantastic circuit and pretty quick.

"The circuit definitely offers plenty of challenges. You really need to make good use of your tyres early and then manage what you have left.

"The team has done a lot of work since the Portland test and I think we will have a good base line to work with.

"Alex has been on the podium at Portland in the past so he knows his way around the place and I am sure I will continue to learn a lot from him as the weekend progresses."


"This weekend we head back to a road course and we can get serious again," said Gore.

"I think the oval at Milwaukee was a bit of a hiccup for us, although both cars came home in one piece, which is never an easy thing to achieve -- especially with a rookie like Marcus.

"I think the team heads to Portland with plenty of confidence after our amazing podium finish in Monterrey in round two and a successful test earlier in the season.

"Derrick Walker continues to lead a professional organisation which is definitely heading in the right direction.

"Now it's all about momentum and ensuring we keep our eye on the ball. The team seems to become more cohesive with every race and that is an important thing if Team Australia is going to reach its full potential.

"We set some goals at the start of the season and one was to get a podium finish. We did that in only our second race as a team. What this group of people could achieve is mind boggling."


"We recently did a seven-post shaker test with Ohlins (shock company) in Charlotte and we came away pleased with the results," said Walker.

"The feedback of data confirmed what we had been thinking. It was more of an evaluation of where we have been so far.

"We have a new configuration for this weekend, but that will only help us if the weather co-operates.

"It was the first of several tests we have planned and we look forward to getting a little more radical as we progress.

"The Portland circuit is in the same family of tracks as Monterrey, Mexico where we had a good podium result a couple of races back.

"If it rains then I think the driver becomes more of a variable and I think we are in good shape in that department because we have a couple of good road racers on our hands.

"Portland is always a fuel race and you have to constantly work on your strategy. Because of the patching between corners it can also be tough on tyres."

Australia will again play host to the Champ Car World Series on the streets of Surfers Paradise for the Lexmark Indy 300 from October 20-23. This year will be the first year in the event's history that a full-time Australian team will compete for glory on home soil.

Team Australia is a new Champ Car entry created for 2005 by veteran team owner Derrick Walker and Australian businessmen Craig Gore and John Fish.

The team will contest 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.

-Team Australia

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Tagliani , Jack Brabham , Marcus Marshall