WILL POWER CREATES AUSTRALIAN MOTORSPORT HISTORY Team Australia's Will Power has become the first Australian to win a round of the Champ Car World Series after clinching the Las Vegas Grand Prix in Nevada this morning. Power, who started from...
WILL POWER CREATES AUSTRALIAN MOTORSPORT HISTORY
Team Australia's Will Power has become the first Australian to win a round of the Champ Car World Series after clinching the Las Vegas Grand Prix in Nevada this morning.
Power, who started from pole, dominated the race in his Aussie Vineyards-backed machine to clinch the win from Dutch rookie Robert Doornbos and Champ Car veteran Paul Tracy.
Other former Australian podium winners have included Geoff Brabham and former F1 world champion Alan Jones, but Power, who won last year's Rookie of the Year title, is the first Australian to stand on the top step.
Power was born and bred in Toowoomba, Queensland, and currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana, close to the team.
Team Australia is owned by Queensland businessman Craig Gore and US racing legend Derrick Walker.
Power basically took up from where he left off last year's championship.
He claimed pole in the penultimate round of last year's title chase at his home race on the streets of Queensland's Gold Coast and then clinched his first podium finish in the last race of the year in Mexico City.
He claimed the pole for today's race by almost a second from his nearest rival and, despite losing the lead on the opening lap to Tracy, ran a fast and trouble-free race under a perfect strategy prepared by Walker.
Defending champion and Power's main rival for this year's title, Sebastien Bourdais, crashed out on lap 30 of the 68-lap race.
Power's team-mate Simon Pagenaud also showed good speed throughout the weekend and looked a top three threat before he suffered engine problems and withdrew after 47 laps.
The next round of the championship is in Long Beach, California next weekend.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY ...
Will Power - #5 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01
"It feels really good," said Power.
"The only issue I had was a really long brake pedal at the end of the race. But we had an 18-second lead, so we just brought it home and brought Derrick Walker his first win since '99. It's his birthday. So a pole and a win, I think that's a pretty good present for him.
"We also brought Craig Gore his first Champ Car win as a team owner and that is something pretty special.
"Craig is a passionate Australian and he has worked so hard for three years to get us into the position we are in today. I am proud to be the first Australian to win one of these races and there have been a few guys try over the years.
"It is also a great result for Aussie Vineyards and the rest of our sponsors who have become a part of the Team Australia program.
"This is the first of a long marathon because we really want to win this championship.
"I lost the start to Paul. I was a bit worried about it because we were on the dusty side of the track.
"I was sort of expecting to get wheel-spin, and he got me there. Then he made a bit of a mistake in the chicane. I got a good run on him with 'power-to-pass' and passed him.
"He pretty much pressured me all the way to the pit stop, especially at the end when my tyres went off. I struggled with the rear tyres. I expected him to come out behind me. But I think he had a bit of a problem in the pits.
"After that I was pretty much alone. I caught Katherine Legge for a while, she held me up. But after that, it was a pretty cruisy race really.
"We had a good car. It handled well all day."
Simon Pagenaud - #15 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01
"The end result was disappointing, but the rest of the weekend was very enjoyable," said Pagenaud.
"The car was fast and Will (Power) won the race, which shows we are the top team.
"We were looking pretty good in the race and were conserving fuel and the car when we had an issue with the engine.
"Qualifying was very pleasing because it showed we had outright speed.
"I gained a lot of experience from the weekend and now I can really look forward to Long Beach next weekend."
Derrick Walker - Team Australia Co-Owner
"Old 'Super Power' has done it again," beamed Walker.
"The race was certainly not an easy one for us with a long pit lane and a few refuelling issues causing us some dramas we needed to work through.
"We worked a lot of late nights this week making sure everything was spot on and we needed to make the right calls through the race. We did that and the race came to us, as it tends to do in those situations.
"I think this is a great reward for everyone who has worked so hard on this program.
"We got maximum points this weekend with the pole and the race win and that's what you need to do if you are going to be in a position to win the championship.
"I am really delighted for Craig (Gore) who has worked tirelessly to create the funds to make this team a reality. Sometimes I don't think he receives enough recognition for his efforts.
"We have certainly come a long way from a conversation in a bar after the 2005 Australian race.
"While we have achieved a lot, I think today is just the first step in a long journey.
"Simon also had plenty of pace this weekend and I think he would have been right there if not for his engine problems. His efforts certainly have indicated that we are going to have a couple of solid performers this season.
"We are not getting too carried away because we are just one race into a long season, but so far, so good."
Craig Gore - Team Australia Co-Owner
"What an amazing day," said Gore.
"It was one thing to win the race, but to hear the Australian national anthem being played on the other side of the world as a result of the win, meant more to me.
"I am proud that Team Australia has been able to take a young Australian driver in Will Power and give him the chance to become the first person from this country to win a Champ Car race.
"I am proud that Team Australia has been able to promote Australia, Australian businesses and the Gold Coast Champ Car race in the way that it has.
"To win the opening race of the series in Las Vegas in the week that we launched the Aussie Vineyards wine into the Nevada region is something pretty special.
"Will (Power) is a remarkable young man who is focused on getting the job done for himself, his team, his sponsors and his country. He is a talented sportsman all of Australia can be proud of.
"My partner in this project, Derrick Walker, has continued to do amazing things and part of the reward for him and his fantastically talented and loyal team came today.
"This is a tough business. Derrick is not only a survivor, but has again shown he is more than capable of moulding a team that can win races.
"We have said from the start that our goal this season is to be in a position to win the championship. We certainly have a long way to go, but I don't think we could have asked for a much better start."