CHAMPCAR/CART: Road America: PKV Racing race report




ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN -- SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2006 -- Round #12 -- 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing's Oriol Servia finished fourth while teammate Katherine Legge walked away from a spectacular crash unscathed today at the Champ Car Grand Prix of Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

Servia, who pilots the #6 Gulfstream -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine, struggled in wet conditions during qualifying on Friday and Saturday, but excelled today on a dry track while earning his fourth top-five finish of the season and tying his second best performance of the year in the process. Legge, in the #20 Bell Micro -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, was having an equally impressive race running solidly in sixth, when with just five laps remaining in the 51-lap contest her car launched off the track, slammed into the wall and cartwheeled through the air. Despite massive damage to the car the talented 25-year-old rookie walked away from the horrific crash with only bruises on her knees to show for her carnival ride.

Servia, who started the race 13th, was on the move with the drop of the green flag. He was ninth after the first lap following a strong start and benefiting from a crash involving three cars. Halfway through the first stint Servia passed Paul Tracy for seventh place where he sat entering the first round of pit stops on lap 14. Servia rejoined the race in eighth place when Tracy, who took on a lighter load of fuel and had a better pit location, beat him to the blend line. Servia ran in eighth until the end of the second round of stops when his Gulfstream -- PKV Racing crew got him g out ahead of Dan Clarke allowing him to retake the seventh position. On lap 32, Servia passed Tracy for the second time to claim sixth. Servia stayed in sixth until the third and final stop, on lap 41. Once again got outstanding pit work from his crew he came back on track in fifth. Following the lengthy delay for the clean-up of Legge's crash, Servia used most of his remaining push-to-pass to over take Justin Wilson on the restart and take over fourth place. Unfortunately, he had neither the speed nor the necessary laps to make a run at Sebastien Bourdais for a podium finish.

"From 13th to fourth is a very good result," Servia said. "The Gulfstream -- PKV Racing team had high hopes coming here--the rain didn't help us which is strange because in Montreal and Cleveland the car was great in the rain, but we could not make it work here," he noted. "Starting 13th is kind of hard and we finished fourth because the whole team battled up to fourth. Nothing came from the sky and fell into our hands," Servia explained. "I am happy. I am happy with the result, happy with pit stops, no mistakes. I overtook a lot of people. We passed Paul Tracy twice, which is not an easy thing to say. At the very end I was hoping for a podium, I passed Justin Wilson for fourth, but Sebastien was faster, so there were no miracles," he concluded.

Today's fourth place showing provides Servia with some momentum as the Champ Car World Series heads into the final two races of the season. The 32-year-old native Pals, Catalunya, Spain, who is looking to finish in the top-five in the championship standings currently sits eighth in the points with 169, but is just 15 points out of fourth place.

Today's finish is the highest in six races for Servia on the challenging 4.048-mile, 14-turn Road America permanent road circuit, and the fourth time he has placed in the top-10. He has qualified in the top-10 three times in six attempts with a best starting position of fourth, which he earned in 2003.

Servia, who made his 12th start for PKV Racing today, has finished in the top-10 in seven of the 12 races this year including four top-five showings and the team's only podium performance of the season a third place finish in Cleveland. In addition to the podium, and today's fourth place showing, Servia has finished fourth in Edmonton, fifth in Milwaukee, eighth in Monterrey and San Jose and 10th in Portland. In the five times Servia failed to finish in the top-10 he DNF'ed all five times. Only once was it the result of pilot error (three times he was the innocent victim of crashes while running in the top-five; Denver he had an engine problem while also running fifth and in Montreal he spun the car while sitting in fourth place). Servia has been exceptionally consistent in qualifying this year. He has qualified in the top-10 in ten of the 12 races with five top-five qualifying spots. His qualifying record to date is two short of the team record for top-10 starting spots in a season, set by Jimmy Vasser and Cristiano da Matta both in 2005, and one short of the team record for top-five starting positions in a season, set by da Matta also last year. Servia holds the team record for consecutive top-five starting spots with four, having qualified a season high fourth in Cleveland, fifth in Edmonton, Toronto and San Jose.

Now in his seventh Champ Car season, Servia made his 110th career start tomorrow at Road America. He has earned 58 top-ten finishes including 29 top-five showings, 13 podium performances and one victory (Montreal 2005). The resident of Miami, Florida, who has finished in the top-10 in the standings the last three years, is coming off his best Champ Car season placing second last year.

Legge, who qualified a season and career high tying eighth, got an equally good start picking up three places by the second lap. One as a result of the opening lap incident and another when Justine Wilson was moved back two spots for jumping the start. However, on the restart following the crash she got boxed in and lost sixth places dropping to 11th. Showing her trademark determination, Legge began the long climb back. She picked up one spot on lap seven, but fell back to 12th after the first round of pit stops. Legge fought her way back to 10th by the second round of stops and when Tracy made an off-track excursion after losing a battle with Servia, she was in ninth. Legge was running in seventh just before the start of the third round of stops, then moved into second place when she was able to stay out longer then most of the cars ahead of her. The extra laps, with a low load of fuel, gave Legge additional track position so that following a very quick stop by the Bell Micro -- PKV Racing crew on lap 43 she reemerged in sixth place, just behind her teammate. Three laps later she was flying through the air upside down and staring at the ground.

"I am a bit shaken, but I'm okay--as you can see," she said. "All my bits are intact, so that just goes to show how strong Champ cars are. It was a big impact, but hopefully everything will be fine for the next race at Surfers Paradise."

Legge went on to say, "I don't think you are really aware of what is going on when you have a situation like I had. All of a sudden the car just sped up and hit the wall. Then I see the ground and there is dirt coming into the cockpit--and I see the fence--honestly you are thinking what is going to happen next. I think I saw parts breaking off all around me. And I think I saw the engine split away because the thing I was thinking about the most was that the car was going to catch fire, which it did. Then when the engine went away and I thought okay that's good. To be honest I think I had my eyes closed for lots of it, but it is a bit scary."

Legge concluded by saying, "The only problem I am having now is I banged by knee a little bit against the bulkhead. It is just a bit of bruising which won't look to attractive in my dress at the Atlantic's banquet tonight."

Note: Following her crash safety officials reported that Legge was "awake, alert and had no complaints." She was held for observation for approximately half an hour. Upon arrival at the Champ Car medical unit she was asked if she wanted anything to which see responded, "Just a cup of tea."

Legge, a rookie, made her 12th career Champ Car start and first at Road America although she did compete there last year in the Atlantic Championships qualifying third and finishing second. The native of Guilford, England has earned four top-10 finishes in her first 11 Champ Car races placing a season, and career, high sixth at Milwaukee, eighth in her Champ Car debut at Long Beach eighth in Cleveland and ninth in Denver. She has qualified in the top-10 twice in 12 attempts this year (eighth on the oval in Milwaukee and here on the Road America road course). The resident of Indianapolis, Indiana is third in laps completed and ninth in laps led with 12. Legge is 16th in the standings with 122 points, 46 points out of 10th. She is fifth in the Roshrans Rookie of the Year race.

Legge has established a number of Champ Car records this season. She is the first female to start a Champ Car/CART race since Lyn St. James at Michigan in 1995 and the first female to lead a Champ

Car race (Milwaukee, 12 laps). Her sixth place finish at Milwaukee set a new Series high for a female driver (her eighth in Long Beach and Cleveland give her the three best finishes) surpassing a ninth place finish by Janet Guthrie at the 1978 Indianapolis 500. Legge won three races and finished third last year in her rookie season in the Atlantic Championship Series. Her victory in her debut Atlantic event at Long Beach made her the first woman to win a major open-wheel race in North America.

PKV Racing made its fourth and fifth starts while contesting its third race at Road America today. The team has now qualified in the top-10 twice in five attempts with a best starting position of third by Jimmy Vasser in 2004 (Legge eighth this year). They have finished in the top-10 three times with Servia's fourth at this year's event tying Max Papis (fourth in 2003) for team honors. (Vasser was eighth in 2004).

Next up for PKV Racing is the Lexmark Indy 300, Round #13 of the 2006 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, October 20-22, on the streets of Surfers Paradise, Australia. The race will be broadcast tape delayed on SPEED Channel.

-credit: pkv racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Jimmy Vasser , Max Papis , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Lyn St. James , Sébastien Bourdais , Katherine Legge , Janet Guthrie , Daniel Clarke , Cristiano da Matta
Teams HART