CHAMPCAR/CART: San Jose: PKV Racing race report



SAN JOSE, CA -- SUNDAY, JULY 31, 2005 -- Round #8 -- 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- In what proved to be a grueling race that was tough on both the cars and drivers, PKV Racing's Cristiano da Matta finished 10th while teammate Jimmy Vasser placed 11th today at the inaugural Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix on the temporary street circuit in downtown San Jose, CA.

Da Matta, in the #21 Bell Micro/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine, started 13th. Almost immediately he began to work his way through the field as the challenging and unforgiving 1.4-mile, nine-turn San Jose Grand Prix circuit took its toll and competitors fell out of the race. By lap 16 he was up to eighth place where he remained until the first round of pit stops when his Bell Micro/PKV Racing crew did an outstanding job getting the talented Brazilian out in the seventh spot. Da Matta was running in sixth place and working lap 78 when he made contact with the treacherous Turn #4 wall, which claimed several other competitors during the 1:45 timed contest.

Da Matta, who is competing in his fifth Champ Car season, made his 87th career start today. The resident of Miami, FL, who opened the season with three top-10 finishes in the first four races including the first win in the two plus year his of PKV Racing has now DNF'ed (did not finish) in four straight races, but still managed to score his fourth top-10 finish in the eight races contested this year. His 13th place starting position in San Jose was the first time this season he has not qualified in the top-10. Da Matta's best starting position is second in Cleveland followed by a fourth in Milwaukee and a fifth in Edmonton. The 2002 Series Champion is one of four former champions and three Brazilians competing in the series. He remains 10th in the championship standings with 99 points.

Vasser, who started 10th, was running in ninth place when on lap 16 he experienced a left rear suspension push rod failure. Sensing that he still had a chance to gain some valuable championship points and demonstrating his never say die spirit, Vasser told the the Gulfstream/PKV Racing crew to fix the car. The team immediately went into action and Vasser returned to the contest, now in 15th place and 11 laps off the pace. Slowly, but surely, he worked his way back through the field and was in 11th place on race lap 69 suffered a second push rod failure. The crew once again affected repairs, but two laps later the push rod failed again bring an end to Vasser's race.

"It was a grind out there today, but I wanted to hang in there and a get some championship points for the Gulfstream/PKV Racing Taylor Woodrow car." Vasser said. "I had a couple of left rear suspension push rod failures and the last time it happened we just figured we weren't going to gain any more positions, so we called it a day," he explained. It is unfortunate because, being a native of Morgan Hill I really wanted to finish this race in front of all the local fans," Vasser noted.

Commenting on the event, Vasser said, "The inaugural Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose was a great event. The organizers did a fantastic job. I am really impressed with all the fans, the atmosphere and all the excitement here in San Jose." He went on to say, "It was a great day for a race here in San Jose. The weather was fantastic and the fans were tremendous."

Vasser has now finished in the top-10 in five of the eight races this year with two top-five showings, a fifth in Milwaukee and a season high fourth in Toronto. He has qualified in the top-10 in seven consecutive races and seven of the eight events this year including capturing the first pole in PKV Racing's history, at Milwaukee. The 39-year-old Californian is tied for sixth in the championship standings with 125 points.

Vasser, who is in his 14th Champ Car season, made his 226th career start this weekend which extended his record of consecutive starts to 205. The resident of Las Vegas, NV has finished 141 of his last 182 races and placed in the top-10 in 128 of his 226 events including 64 top-five showings. The 1996 Series Champion is the only owner/driver, one of four former champions and three Americans competing in the 2005 Champ Car World Series.

After eight races of the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series season, PKV Racing has already established a number of team records. Da Matta scored the team's first victory in their two plus year history in Portland while Vasser earned the team's first pole in round #3 at Milwaukee. The two drivers have combined to set team records for best combined qualifying, first and fourth at Milwaukee and best combined finish, first and sixth at Portland. They have both qualified in the top-10 in a team record six races. Da Matta and Vasser have finished in the top-10 in the same race twice (eighth and 10th at Long Beach and first and sixth at Portland) this year and at least one of them placed in the top-six in five consecutive races (the streak ended at Edmonton), which is also a team record.


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Cristiano da Matta