PKV RACING QUALIFIES BOTH DRIVERS IN TOP-10 FOR TOMORROW'S SAN JOSE GRAND PRIX JANI IMPROVES 12 POSITIONS WILL START FIFTH, GOMMENDY TO START EIGHTH SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA -- SATURDAY, JULY 28, 2007 -- Round ...
PKV RACING QUALIFIES BOTH DRIVERS IN TOP-10 FOR TOMORROW'S SAN JOSE GRAND PRIX
JANI IMPROVES 12 POSITIONS WILL START FIFTH, GOMMENDY TO START EIGHTH
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA -- SATURDAY, JULY 28, 2007 -- Round #9 -- 2007 Champ Car World Series season -- Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing driver Neel Jani improved his grid position by 12 spots in today's final qualifying and will start fifth in tomorrow's San Jose Grand Prix at Redback Raceway in San Jose, California. Teammate Tristan Gommendy improved one spot and will start eighth.
Jani, behind the wheel of the #21 Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone machine, vaulted from 17th, last, on yesterday's provisional grid to the inside of Row #3 by running a fast lap of 49.151 seconds (105.691 mph) on the tricky and challenging 1.5-mile, 7-turn downtown temporary street circuit. Gommendy, in the #22 Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone car, ninth coming into today, posted a fast time of 49.192 seconds (105.603 mph) and will start on the outside of Row #4. This is the fourth time this season that PKV Racing has qualified both cars in the top-10.
Jani struggled with his setup all day Friday finishing last in both the morning practice and provisional qualifying sessions. However, starting with this morning's practice, when he ran the seventh fastest lap clocking a time of 49.801 seconds (104.311 mph), it appeared the Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing team had turned a corner. But, in the 15-minute afternoon pre-qualifying practice/warm-up, Jani was again last on the speed charts with a time of 50.353 seconds (103.168 mph). As final qualifying began the team was not sure which car would show up, but after the first of his two stints it was apparent that all the PKV Racing engineers and drivers had got it right. Jani ran seven laps during his first stint posting his fast qualifying lap and putting him at the top of the starting grid. During his second stint, also seven laps, he was building toward an even faster lap, but experienced a slight problem with the balance of the car, which prevented him from reclaiming the top spot.
Jani has now qualified in the top-10 seven times in nine attempts, with a season best starting position of fourth in Houston. He has finished in the top-10 six times in the first eight races of this season with two podiums, a season high second in Toronto and third in Cleveland. The 23-year-old native of Jens, Switzerland, is seventh in the championship standings and third in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year race, with 129 points, and just 14 points out of fifth place.
Commenting on today's qualifying effort Jani said, "The Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing team made good progress from yesterday. It was a good step forward. I am a little disappointed because I think we could have been on the pole. On the second set of tires we should have been a little quicker, but we had a problem with the balance and that cost us. I lost the pole by .112 and I think I should have been in the 48's. Overall, after yesterday I feel good about today, but after being so close to getting the pole it's a little disappointing."
Gommendy, who was cleared to drive by the Champ Car Medical Staff on Tuesday after sitting out of last weekend's race in Edmonton due to back problems sustained in a crash during provisional qualifying, seemed to adapt to the San Jose street circuit quicker than his teammate. In today's morning practice he was 14th on the speed charts posting a quick time of 50.072 seconds (103.747 mph). During the 15-minute warm-up Gommendy was back in the top-10 logging the seventh fastest lap with a time of 49.534 seconds (104.873 mph). In qualifying, Gommendy ran the usual two stints, but did not go out for his first run until 10 minutes into the 30 minute session. He ran six laps posting a fast lap of 49.552 seconds (104.835 mph) during his first stint. His second stint began with eight minutes to go and lasted eight laps for a total of 14. His fast lap came on lap seven of the second stint and the 13th overall.
Gommendy, has now qualified in the top-10 five times in eight attempts (did not qualify in Edmonton due to injury) this year with the one pole. The 27-year-old a resident of Paris, France has finished in the top-10 twice with a best showing of fifth in his Champ Car debut at Las Vegas. Gommendy is currently 13th in the standings 28 points out of tenth.
"The Pay By Touch MegaSpirea team is so close to having a really good car, but we need to improve the car under braking," Gommendy said. "We have a good setup for the race, but the key to the race is going to be minimizing mistakes. We are all going to make some mistakes tomorrow, but the guy who makes the fewest will win."
PKV Racing will be making its fifth and sixth starts while contesting its third race in San Jose tomorrow. The team has now qualified in the top-10 four times in six attempts with a best starting position of fifth by Oriol Servia last year and Jani today. They have finished in the top-10 twice with a best showing of eighth again by Servia in 2006 (Cristiano da Matta finished 10th at the inaugural event in 2005).
For the season PKV Racing drivers have now qualified in the top-10 a total of 12 times in 15 attempts (#22 car did not qualify in Edmonton) with one pole, by Gommendy at Mont-Tremblant. They have finished in the top-10 eight times with the two podiums both by Jani.
This weekend's race is the first of the second half of the 2007 Champ Car World Series season and is the fifth of a grueling five races in a six week segment that has begun to define and separate the contenders from the rest of the field in the championship hunt.
The San Jose Grand Prix at Redback Raceway, July 27-29, Round #9 of the 2007 Champ Car World Series season, will be held on the temporary street circuit in downtown San Jose, California. The race will be televised live on ESPN2 at 6:00 p.m. (ET) tomorrow, Sunday, July 29.