The extremely challenging, tight Surfers Paradies circuit has emerged as the venue for speed this year, as the beautiful beachside circuit on the Gold Coast of Australia the Champ Car drivers have defied the concrete walls with consistent record...
The extremely challenging, tight Surfers Paradies circuit has emerged as the venue for speed this year, as the beautiful beachside circuit on the Gold Coast of Australia the Champ Car drivers have defied the concrete walls with consistent record breaking laps.
Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards) laid down a scorching lap on Saturday, beating the track record of 1 minute and 30.054 seconds (111.733 mph) or (170.816 kph) to take the pole in front of throngs of thrilled Australian fans, giving the team back to back poles for the Lexmark Indy 300.
Power went out and challenged the track with an electrifying force as he kept laying down faster laps each time he crossed the timing line, beating Oriol Servia (#22 Pay By Touch / PKV Racing) provisional pole time on his fourth lap. "That's probably the hardest four laps I've ever done in my life. I pushed super-hard because I knew we had the car to do it."
The previous track record of 1 minute 30.204 seconds had been recorded by Cristiano da Matta back in 2002.
Although happy about winning the pole, Power stated he was "not getting too excited because it's a long race. (...) The team has a good strategy and we need to get it done." After on track contact last year with Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's) which knocked him out of the race, Power hopes for a good start and is looking to get ... "the race right this time and win it."
Servia, who sits beside Power on the front row due to his record breaking lap from yesterday suffered through some engine problems during Saturday's qualifying session. "I'm very happy with the car...and starting on the front row is great." There have been many challenges for Servia to confront, acquiring the ride just hours before the cars wheels touched the track surface, but his street circuit skills have shone through for PKV racing.
Having struggled through the last few races Canadian Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck) revisited the top of the charts by qualifying third. Tracy, who has participated in all but two events in Australia, is very aware of the turmoil the circuit can hold when things go awry.
"This track is very, very tough, very physical," he said. "Small mistakes on a chicane section can turn into a catastrophe."
Tracy speaks highly of the hard work the team has done over the year to get back into fighting form for this weekend. His rivalry with Bourdais is very apparent by his comments "I have nothing to lose and he has everything to lose. That's gonna be my goal to go into the race."
He joked after a question asking when he was going to retire, suggesting that he may be getting too old to race. "Hopefully I proved to you today that the old man still has some speed in him."
Bourdais, who is fighting with traction gremlins on his car, will line his car up beside his adversary Tracy for the start after qualifying fourth following a crash yesterday in one of the chicanes. Working yesterday to re- build his confidence after the incident he feels that ... "we'll be in pretty good shape and give it their best shot." His confidence may have been challenged but he is self-assured that his race for the Champ Car Championship is firmly within his grasp.
Justin Wilson in his #9 CDW-RuSPORT will bring his car to the fifth position on the grid for the start of tomorrow's race. "Qualifying at Surfers is just as crazy as the race! Just like a race, so many things have to fall into place to be on the pole. You need a fast car, good tires and a clear track. Getting all those things to happen here at Surfers is incredibly difficult." He added, "I'm driving the best car I have ever had at this track, so I think the race tomorrow is going to be good."
Rounding out the top ten, Simon Pagenaud (#15 Aussie Vineyards) top rookie in the field holds sixth on the grid after battling a... "tough track". Followed by Bruno Junqueira of Dale Coyne Racing(#19 Sonny's Bar-B-Q) who continues to be consistent with another top10 qualifying position .
Starting in eighth, Neel Jani (#21 Red Bull/Gulfstream) feels he needs to "attack the corners differently" for the race tomorrow. Graham Rahal (#2 Medi|Zone) battling a cold claims the ninth spot.
Minardi Team USA's 'Speedy' Dan Clarke (#4 Minardi Team USA) had "too much grip" and is hoping for a "good result" in the race.
Concrete walls, tight chicanes and fast straight-aways with small run offs await the skills and patience of the drivers as they navigate their way through the 2.795 mile street course at Surfer's Paradise Queensland Australia. Who will be the conqueror tomorrow?