POWER SIXTH ON TURBULENT DAY FOR TEAM AUSTRALIA Team Australia's Will Power has equaled his best-ever Champ Car finish by steering the ...
POWER SIXTH ON TURBULENT DAY FOR TEAM AUSTRALIA
Team Australia's Will Power has equaled his best-ever Champ Car finish by steering the #5 Aussie Vineyards Lola home in sixth position in the Canary Foundation San Jose Grand Prix in California today.
Power equaled his best result from last weekend's event in Edmonton, holding off AJ Allmendinger in the late stages to finish sixth, extending his lead in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year standings and jumping to 11th in the Champ Car World Series points after nine rounds. Power is only 18 points behind Mario Dominguez, who is fourth in the championship.
Team Australia driver Alex Tagliani was on course for a podium result in San Jose in the #15 Aussie Vineyards Lola before becoming the innocent victim of an incident on lap 52 with fellow Canadian Paul Tracy.
Tracy overshot the Turn Six right hander and went straight ahead down the escape road. He rejoined the circuit, speeding straight into the side of Tagliani's Aussie Vineyards Lola, which was a strong fourth place at the time.
The significant damage to both cars put Tagliani and Tracy out of the race. The two drivers had words in the pit lane after the incident, with a scuffle ensuing. Champ Car Race Operations is reviewing the incident to determine what, if any, action will be taken.
The incident robbed Tagliani of what was shaping as yet another fine comeback for the Aussie Vineyards squad. Tagliani crashed in final practice on Saturday, which forced the veteran to miss final qualifying. Coming from 13th on the grid, the Team Australia car was charging through the pack as well as conserving fuel.
Defending Champ Car Champion and series leader Sebastien Bourdais won today's event from the RuSport pair of Cristiano da Matta and Justin Wilson.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY --
Will Power -- #5 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Lola
"In the first couple of laps I hit Servia," said Power.
"I think maybe his team people may have told him there was a yellow and I didn't get called for a yellow and braked in a normal spot. Then he came up on me really quick and I hit him. I couldn't go anywhere. It's unfortunate for him and me, but luckily we were able to get back to the race.
"After the hit, it felt like something was slightly bent, so it felt like the car bottomed pretty bad all through the race. At the end I was able to keep up with those guys and keep AJ behind me.
"I finished sixth, which was a good result considering how the race started. I'm really happy to get points and finish as a top rookie again."
Alex Tagliani -- #15 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Lola
"This is a huge disappointment for our team and having the guys work hard like that again to rebuild the car," said Tagliani.
"Unfortunately for us, we had an awesome car and I never really went flat out. I saved a bunch of fuel, and the Aussie Vineyards car did a 50.8 second lap time early in the second stint. We were going to finish on two sets of red (option) tyres.
"Everything was working as planned. I really think we had the car to finish right in front of da Matta, who finished in second place, and Tracy hitting me took the podium away from us."
Derrick Walker -- Team Australia Co-Owner
"In some respects these kinds of street races are tough because we are all racing for very little space and it's tight," said Walker.
"Everybody's trying their hardest and taking as many chances as they can. Unfortunately I think Paul misjudged it when he was trying to get out in front of Alex. It ruined his day, I don't think he intended to, it was a silly mistake he made and unfortunately we have another broken chassis on our hands.
"I was pretty impressed with Alex's karate and boxing skills, now we are looking for a rematch. It's a pity the early start situation caught Will banging wheels with Junqueira, it appears. Otherwise I think he would have definitely been up there.
"Top three was definitely possible and we had a good car, saved fuel did everything you need to do. The sixth place result was a good comeback for the team, who did great pit stops."
Craig Gore -- Team Australia Co-Owner
"Tags has told us that he has considered getting an Australian passport -- maybe this will help his chances," said Gore.
"I'm sure there are plenty of people down pit lane who have wanted to do what Tags did today. I can understand his frustration, because he's just been trying so hard and things are not going his way.
"I can't help but feel for Derrick and the team. I can tell you that when we did the budgets at the start of the year, rebuilding four cars from the ground up was not part of the scenario.
"Some of the problems have been our own, while others have been caused by stupid incidents like today. Either way, you have to feel for the guys who have been working around the clock just to keep a couple of cars out on the track.
"I'm sure they will do another great job for Team Australia and all our sponsors and have two cars ready for Denver in two weeks time.
"On the other hand it was pleasant to see Will have another strong finish and extend his lead in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year standings."