PKV RACING'S KATHERINE LEGGE TIES SEASON HIGH WITH EIGHTH PLACE QUALIFYING POSTION FOR TOMORROW'S CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF ROAD AMERICA WET CONDITIONS KEEP SERVIA 13TH ON GRID ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN -- SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2006 -- Round ...
PKV RACING'S KATHERINE LEGGE TIES SEASON HIGH WITH EIGHTH PLACE QUALIFYING POSTION FOR TOMORROW'S CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF ROAD AMERICA
WET CONDITIONS KEEP SERVIA 13TH ON GRID
ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN -- SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2006 -- Round #12 -- 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- For the second day in a row rain played havoc with qualifying at the Champ Car Grand Prix of Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Despite the conditions PKV Racing's Katherine Legge tied her season and career high by qualifying eighth today for tomorrow's race. Teammate Oriol Servia will start13th.
Legge, who's #20 Bell Micro -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone entry has been repainted in a pink motif to support Ford Motor Company's Warriors in Pink program, which is dedicated to eradicating breast cancer through Ford's commitment to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Series, earned the top-10 starting spot based on her time from yesterday's provisional qualifying which came in at 119.388 seconds (1:59.388) for a speed of 122.063 mph. The eighth place starting position equals her best starting spot of the season, which she earned on the Milwaukee oval for the fourth race of the season. It is also her best starting position on a road or street circuit in 11 tries this year. Legge will begin tomorrow's race on the outside of Row #4.
Meanwhile, Servia, who struggled yesterday in provisional qualifying, was hoping to recover and gain grid position today. Things looked very positive after the morning practice when Servia posted the fourth fastest time of the session in dry conditions. However, when the weather deteriorated it became impossible to improve on yesterday's times leaving the #6 Gulfstream -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine 13th on the grid based on his Friday time which clocked in at 121.082 seconds (2:01.082) good for 120.355 mph. Servia, who failed to qualify in the top-10 for just the second time this season, will start the race on the inside of Row #7.
Legge began the day running on a dry track with slick tires during the morning practice. She notched a fast lap of 106.165 seconds (1:46.165) for a speed of 137.266 mph, which placed her 12th on both the individual and combined practice reports. During the 15-minute afternoon pre-qualifying/warm-up, which was run on a wet track with light rain, Legge ran a time of 135.293 second (2:15.293) placing her 13 on the individual practice report, but leaving her 12th on the combined report. Following the warm-up it appeared that the rain was going to stop, so the Bell Micro -- PKV Racing team quickly began to prepare for a dry qualifying. However, just before the session was to commence the rain intensified quashing any hope of a dry session. Legge went out for her first stint on rain tires with 28:30 remaining in the 30 minute session. She ran six laps turning as fast time of 135.149 second (2:15.149) on the fifth of the six laps, which placed her 13th on the speed charts with a speed of 107.828 mph. After the first run it was obvious that the times would be significantly slower today, so the team debated whether to go out for a second time. However, with 7:30 remaining they determined that some additional track time would benefit their rookie driver. Legge ran four more laps, for a total of 10, turning her fast time of the session on the last lap posting a time of 132.916 second (2:12.916).
"It is really a shame that the weather conditions today were so bad," Legge said. "I really think that the Bell Micro -- PKV Racing team could have improved our grid position based on what we learned yesterday," she noted. "However, overall, I am satisfied with our qualifying effort this weekend. We are starting eighth, which is our best starting position since Milwaukee and our best starting spot on a road course this year. The team did a fantastic job both days and I am very confident going into tomorrow's race," Legge concluded.
Legge will be making 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 25-year-old native of Guilford, England has now qualified in the top-10 twice in 12 attempts this year (eighth in Milwaukee and here at Road America). She 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. The resident of Indianapolis, Indiana is third in laps completed (1007 out of a possible 1075) and ninth in laps led with 12. Legge is 14th in the standings with 117 points, 31 points out of 10th, and trails Dan Clarke by 30 points for second in the rookie of the year race.
With vastly improved weather and track conditions for morning practice, Servia on slick tires, recorded a fastest lap of 104.554 seconds (1:44.554) for a speed of 139.381 mph, which also placed him fourth on the individual and combined practice report. During the afternoon warm-up he was back on rain tires, but with an improved car from the previous day. His fast lap of 128.469 seconds (2:08.468) and a speed of 113.434 mph, while slower than yesterday, put him seventh on the individual practice report and left him fourth on the combined report based on the morning practice. For qualifying the Gulfstream -- PKV Racing team sat for the first few minutes of the session in the hope that the rain would pass, but after it became obvious that the conditions would do nothing but get worse, Servia took to the track with 25:40 remaining. He ran five laps during the stint turning his quick lap of 130.782 second (2:10.782) (speed 111.428) on the fifth lap, which placed him eighth on the grid. With it apparent that no ground would be gained the team decided not risk damaging the car and never returned to the track.
"It just didn't happen for the Gulfstream -- PKV Racing team today," Servia noted. "The only time it rained today was during qualifying, which is unfortunate because we had a very good car when it was dry. We had a very good practice session this morning when it was dry and I think we have improved the car from there. In the wet we made a little progress from yesterday, but no one went faster today," he explained. "In the end I hope it is dry for the race," Servia concluded.
With just three races remaining in the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season, Servia will be looking to gain some momentum with a good performance in tomorrow's race as he attempts to climb back in the fight for a top-five position in the season ending standings. The 32-year-old native Pals, Catalunya, Spain, currently sits 12th in the points with 145, but is just 28 points out of fifth.
Servia will be contesting his sixth race on the 4.048-mile, 14-turn Road America permanent road circuit. He has now qualified in the top-10 three times in six attempts with a best starting position of fourth, which he earned in 2003. Servia has finished in the top-10 three times with a best showing of sixth in 2004.
PKV Racing will be making its fourth and fifth starts and contesting its third race at Road America. 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 twice with a best showing of fourth by Max Papis in 2003 (Vasser eighth in 2004).