CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: PKV Racing Friday report



SURFERS PARADISE, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA -- FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2006 -- Round #13 -- 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing's Oriol Servia qualified fourth on the provisional gird for Sunday's Lexmark Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia. Teammate Katherine Legge did not qualify and sits 18th on the grid.

Servia, in the #6 Gulfsteam -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine, provisionally qualified with a quick lap of 92.371 seconds (108.930 mph) on the 2.795-mile, 11-turn Surfers Paradise downtown temporary street circuit. Legge, #20 Bell Micro -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, who is returning to competition following her horrific crash just over three weeks ago at Road America, experienced an engine problem and did not turn a wheel in qualifying.

Servia recorded the seventh fastest time of the morning practice clocking a quick lap of 94.617 seconds (106.345 mph). During the 15-minute afternoon practice/warm-up, he ran six laps posting a fast lap of 94.382 seconds for a speed of 106.609 mph placing him fifth on the individual practice report, but 10th on the combined report. In qualifying, the Gulfstream -- PKV Racing went with a two stint strategy. Servia ran seven laps the first stint turning and five the second although his last lap was nullified by a red flag. His quick lap came on the 11th of the 12.

"I am happy with the performance of the Gulfstream -- PKV Racing team today," Servia said. The team did a good job--we are fourth--we are competitive--we are contenders. It is just you want to be in the pole position," he noted. I am happy with how we have been working the last five, six races, but everyone else is working too, so nothing is free out there. We just need to keep pushing. We still have some room for improvement, so hopefully tomorrow the Gulfstream -- PKV Racing team can be a little better," Servia concluded.

Servia is looking for another strong performance here in Surfers Paradise as he attempts to build on the momentum gained from a fourth place finish four weeks ago at Road America. The 32-year-old native of Catalunya, Spain, who currently sits eighth in the standings with 169 points just 15 points out of fourth place with two races remaining in the 2006 season, will be making his seventh start in Surfers Paradise. He has qualified in the top-10 three times and finished in the top-10 twice, but is coming off his best performance in six previous races in Australia having captured his first career pole and finished fifth last year.

Servia, who is starting his 13th race for PKV Racing, 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 the fourth place showing at Road America, Servia has finished fourth in Edmonton, fifth in Milwaukee, eighth in Monterrey and San Jose and 10th in Portland. 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 starting 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.

Servia, who is competing in his seventh Champ Car season, will be making his 111th career start this weekend. 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 is looking for a strong showing here in Surfers and in the season finale in Mexico City, as she pursues her goal of a top-10 finish in the final standings, was 15th on the speed charts after the morning practice with a time of 97.003 seconds (103.729 mph). However, in the 15-minute pre-warm-up Legge ran just two laps before experiencing a problem with her engine. The Bell Micro -- PKV Racing crew immediately sprang into action searching out the problem, but it quickly became apparent that there would be no quick fix. Just after the start of the qualifying session Legge was out of the car and the crew was headed toward the garage for an engine change.

"Obviously I am disappointed because I lost a lot of track time due to a problem with the engine," Legge said. "It is really not that big a deal as far as qualifying because the times should be quicker tomorrow, so the Bell Micro -- PKV Racing team will have an opportunity to move up the grid. It's just that this is my first time at Surfers and this is a very tricky and challenging circuit, so the more track time I get the better off I am going to be in final qualifying and the race," she explained.

Legge, a rookie, who is competing for the first time in Australia, will be making her 13th career Champ Car start. The native of Britain has earned four top-10 finishes in her first 12 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 on the Road America road course). The resident of Indianapolis, Indiana is third in laps completed (1052 of 1126) 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 will be making its sixth and seventh starts and contesting its fourth race in Surfers Paradise. The team has qualified in the top-10 four times in five previous attempts with a best starting position of fourth by Cristiano da Matta in 2005 (Salo, 10th -- 2003; Vasser, eighth -- 2004 and 2005). They have finished in the top-10 three once with Vasser finishing third last year.

There will be a practice session tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. followed by final qualifying at 2:00.

-credit: pkv racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Oriol Servia , Lyn St. James , Katherine Legge , Janet Guthrie , Cristiano da Matta