Win #1 For Tagliani at Road America
Lola Dominates Top Ten in Earning 149th Champ Car Victory
Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford's 23rd visit to Elkhart Lake's Road America, the 4.048-mile permanent road course in the Kettle Moraine region of Wisconsin was a wild affair on this warm, sunny day, won by first-timer Alex Tagliani in the #8 Johnson Controls Lola/Ford-Cosworth/Bridgestone racer.
Tagliani crashed in practice, sat out qualifying Friday, had shifting difficulties in final qualifying and started the 52-lap Grand Prix of Road America from 13th position. In a slowed by five cautions and reduced to 48 laps, "I think today honestly we got a little bit lucky with the way the yellows turned out in the race. I think it takes a really fast car, good strategy and a little bit of luck to be able to win in this series and all the ingredients were there," he declared.
Rodolfo Lavin earned his first Champ Car podium, second place and his best finish with the #3 Corona Beer Lola from 10th on the 18-car grid. "My team have given me a great Lola car, great tools to fight out there. We knew it was coming and it was just a case of keeping out of trouble all day and making consistent lap times."
Point leader, polesitter Sebastien Bourdais in his #2 McDonalds Lola had a perplexing afternoon from pole position. Balked by the pace car a restart, he later had contact that bent his left front and right rear suspension yet still brought his car home third, stretching his point lead over teammate Bruno Junqueira (#6 PacifiCare Lola), who had a difficult day in 15th) 213- 166. "I had a terrible time to drive the car. I got passed by people and passed people and here I am on the podium. I have no idea what happened in between!"
Ryan Hunter-Reay finished fourth in the #4 Herdez Competition Lola despite being involved in a first lap altercation and teammate Mario Dominguez earned fifth in the #55 Herdez Lola, crediting his team for excellent pit strategy, a necessity when 14 of 48 laps ran under caution. Oriol Servia took sixth place, for the second time in a row with the #11 YokeTV.com Lola, rookie Justin Wilson was seventh in the #34 Mi-Jack Lola, Jimmy Vasser earned eighth in the #12 Gulfstream Lola, Michel Jourdain was ninth in the #9 Gigante Lola and rookie Guy Smith netted tenth in the #17 Rocketsports Lola.
Lola goes to the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver with the opportunity to secure the 150th victory of its Champ Car campaign. That 9th race of the 2004 season race takes place next Sunday, August 15th on the streets of Denver, CO.