CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: PKV Racing preview

PKV RACING SET TO MAKE FINAL PUSH IN CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS INDIANAPOLIS, IN - - OCTOBER 19, 2005 - - With just two races remaining in the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season, PKV Racing is set to make...


INDIANAPOLIS, IN - - OCTOBER 19, 2005 - - With just two races remaining in the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season, PKV Racing is set to make its final push in the championship standings beginning with the Lexmark Indy 300, October 21-23, on the temporary street circuit in Surfers Paradise, Australia.

PKV Racing drivers Jimmy Vasser, #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone and Cristiano da Matta, #21 Bell Micro/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, have their sights set on finishing the 2005 season with at least one car in the top-five and certainly both in the top-10 in the final championship standings. Achieving either goal would add to a growing list of team records already establish by the duo this season.

Vasser is currently sixth in the standings with 173 points and appears to have to best shot at a top-five finish. The highly respected 39-year-old native of California, who is coming off a season high third place performance in Las Vegas, is just 13 points out of fifth place, 41 out of fourth and 43 out of third with a total of 70 points available in the final two contests. Vasser has finished in the top-10 in seven of the 11 races this season with three top-five showings, the third in Vegas, a fourth in Toronto and a fifth in Milwaukee. The resident of Las Vegas, NV has qualified in the top-10 in 10 consecutive races and 10 of the 11 events this year including the first pole in PKV Racing's history, at Milwaukee.

In the four races he did not finish in the top-10, Vasser, who has been the subject of retirement rumors, has shown the determination and leadership that have made him both a champion and a fan favorite for many years. Battling through adversity in all four events, Vasser scored valuable championship points, which have left the 1996 Series Champion in a position to have his best season since 1998 and establish a new team record by topping last year's eighth place finish. It will also be the ninth time in the last 11 years that the perennial championship contender has place in the top-10 in the standings.

"The goal for PKV Racing is to finish both PKV Racing cars in the top-five in the championship standings, but realistically I think placing one in the top-five and both in the top-ten would be a good result at this point" Vasser said. "PKV Racing has made a lot of progress this year and, overall, I am pleased, but we still have a lot of work to do. I am looking forward to helping PKV Racing achieve our goal of being a consistent championship contender for many years", he noted."

Now in his 14th year of Champ Car competition, Vasser, who joined PKV Racing last year in the dual roles of co-owner and driver, will be making his 230th career, record 209th consecutive and 14th start this weekend in Surfers Paradise. Vasser has finished 143 of his last 185 races and placed in the top-10 in 130 of his 229 events including 65 top-five showings and 32 podium finishes. In 13 previous races in Australia, Vasser has qualified in the top-10 a total of 10 times with one pole in 1996. He has finished in the top-10 five times and is one of 14 past winners (no driver has ever repeated in Surfers Paradise) capturing the victory in 1996.

"Surfers Paradise is one of my two favorite tracks," Vasser said. "It has a great atmosphere and the circuit is very challenging," he explained. "All the drivers really enjoy coming to Surfers and it is always a great race. As one of 14 former winners of this event I think it would be a great honor to be the first to become a repeat winner," Vasser concluded."

Da Matta, currently sits 10th in the point standings with 130 points. He is 32 points out of ninth place and mathematically can still finish as high fifth in the season ending standings. Considering he has won in Surfers Paradise, taking the win in 2001 and placed second in Mexico City, the 2005 season's final event, da Matta is poised to move up in the championship standings and finish the season in the top-10 for the fourth consecutive season.

"I am looking forward to the final two events of the season," da Matta said. "I have had some success on both the Surfers Paradise and Mexico City circuits and would like to finish off my first season with PKV Racing on a good note," he noted. "We have not accomplished everything we wanted to this year, but the team has worked very hard and I believe that we are in a good position to have strong showings in the final two events."

Da Matta, who spent the last two seasons competing in Formula 1, is contesting his fifth Champ Car season and first with PKV Racing. The 2002 Series Champions will be making his 91st career Champ Car start, 11th for the team and fifth in Surfers Paradise this weekend. The talented 31-year-old Brazilian, opened the season with three top-10 finishes in the first four races including a win in Portland, the first in PKV Racing history and was as high as fifth in the standings. He then battled through a series of incidents in the next five events, before rallying with a solid performance in Montreal. In Las Vegas, after tying his second best qualifying effort of the season, fourth, he struggled with the car in race and finished 12th. The resident of Miami, Florida has finished in the top-10 in five of the 11 races contested this year and qualified in the top-10 in 10 of the 11 events this year (missing out only in San Jose) with a best starting position of second in Cleveland. In four previous starts in Surfers Paradise he has started in the top-10 all four times taking the pole in 2002 and finishing in the top-10 three times, the win in 2001, a fourth in 2000 and an eighth in 2002.

"Surfers Paradise is my favorite circuit in the Champ Car World Series," da Matta said. "It is a challenging track and fun to drive. The atmosphere in Surfers is always fantastic. The Australian fans always support the race and the promoters do a great job," he concluded.

PKV Racing will be making its fourth and fifth starts while competing in its third race in Australia. In three previous starts the team has qualified in the top-10 twice with a best starting position of eighth by Vasser last year. Their best finish is 11th by Mika Salo in 2003 and Roberto Gonzalez in 2004.


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Mika Salo , Roberto Gonzalez , Cristiano da Matta