CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: PKV Racing race report

PKV RACING'S VASSER FINISHES ON PODIUM AT LEXAMRK INDY 300 DA MATTA INVOLVED IN OPENING LAP INCIDENT, FINISHES 19TH SURFERS PARADISE, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA -- SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2005 -- Round ...

PKV RACING'S VASSER FINISHES ON PODIUM AT LEXAMRK INDY 300

DA MATTA INVOLVED IN OPENING LAP INCIDENT, FINISHES 19TH

SURFERS PARADISE, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA -- SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2005 -- Round #10 -- 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing's Jimmy Vasser notched his second consecutive podium finish placing third at the Lexmark Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia. Teammate Cristiano da Matta was involved in a opening lap incident that knocked him from the competition placing him 19th.

Vasser, who pilots the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine, qualified eighth. He moved into sixth place on the opening lap when da Matta and Mario Dominguez dropped out of the race. Following an outstanding pit stop by his Gulfstream/PKV Racing crew on lap 20, Vasser took over the fifth spot. On lap 24, Paul Tracy caught fire and had to retire moving Vasser into fourth. He took over third place on lap 33 when Justin Wilson became entangled with another car. Vasser held station, dropping back only after his final pit stop, when two cars that were out of sequence did not pit, but moved back into third on lap 49 when the two made their final stop. Unfortunately he was unable to gain any more ground finishing behind winner Sebastien Bourdais and A. J. Allmendinger.

Today's third place showing moved Vsser ahead of Dominguez in the standings, but with Allmedinger finishing second, Vasser remains in sixth place in the standings with 198 points. He trails Allmendinger by just one point for fifth and is just 23 points behind Tracy for the fourth spot with 35 points available in the season finale in Mexico City. Vasser is seeking his first top-five finish in the championship standings since 1998, when he placed second (he was sixth in 2000) and is trying to establish a new team record by topping his eight place showing in his inaugural season at PKV Racing last year. The perennial championship contender, and 1996 Series Champion, has already assured himself of his ninth top-10 showing time in the last 11 years.

"It was a great finish for the Gulfsteam/PKV Racing team," Vasser said. "It is always good to finish on the podium and get some points, but we are in a tight race with Allmendinger (A. J.) and Dominguez (Mario) for fifth in the championship, so it looks like it is going to come down to the final race in Mexico City," he explained. "I think this is my third podium in 14 tries at Surfers Paradise and it is always a great place to get that trophy. I just want to give all the credit to the PKV Racing team. They have worked very hard this season and we are starting to reap the benefits of all that hard work. I am also very happy for Gulfstream, Bell Micro and everyone involved with PKV Racing," Vasser concluded.

Vasser, who is competing in his 14th year of Champ Car competition, made his 230th career Champ Car start, 209th consecutive and 14th at Surfers Paradise. The highly respected 39-year-old Californian has now finished in the top-10 in eight of the 12 races this season with three top-five showings including two podiums, thirds in Vegas and Surfers Paradise, a fourth in Toronto and a fifth in Milwaukee. He has qualified in the top-10 in 11 consecutive races and 11 of the 12 events this year including capturing the first and only pole in PKV Racing's history, at Milwaukee. In his 14 starts in Surfers, the resident of Las Vegas, NV has finished in the top-10 six times with a victory (1996) and qualified in the top-10 a total of 11 times with one pole (1996). Vasser has finished 144 of his last 186 races and placed in the top-10 in 131 of his 230 events including 66 top-five showings and 33 podium finishes.

Da Matta, in the #21 Bell Micro/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone entry, qualified fourth for the second consecutive race tying his second best qualifying effort for the season. Starting on the outside of Row #2, da Matta was running along side of Dominguez, behind pole sitter Oriol Servia and Bourdais, with Tracy coming through the field as they entered the first corner on the opening lap. When the leaders began to brake for the corner, da Matta, who was battling to hold onto third place going into the chicane, hit the back of Servia's car and bounced off Dominquez. Both da Matta and Dominguez were damaged beyond repair and retired from the race. Servia was able to continue after a stop for repairs.

"Going into the first chicane Sebastien (Bourdais) and Oriol (Servia) started on the brakes," da Matta began. "I just couldn't slow down quick enough. I was to close and should have given myself more space, but I wanted to beat Dominguez (Mario) to the chicane. It was a mistake," he said. "I feel bad for the Bell Micro/PKV Racing crew. They worked very hard to give me a good car and we missed an opportunity to score some valuable points. My goal now is to finish off the season with a very good performance in Mexico City," da Matta concluded.

Da Matta, who is in his fifth Champ Car season and first with PKV Racing, made his 91st career start, 12th with the team and fifth in Surfers Paradise. The 31-year-old Brazilian currently sits 11th in the standings with 132 points just five points out of ninth. Da Matta has finished in the top-10 in five of the 12 races contested this year. He has qualified in the top-10 in 11 of the 12 events this year (missing out only in San Jose) with a best starting position of second in Cleveland (he has qualified fourth three times Milwaukee, Las Vegas and Australia). The 2002 Series Champion is attempting to finish in the top-10 in the standings for the fourth consecutive time and fourth time in five Champ Car seasons (missed out only in 1999, his rookie year).

Da Matta has now finished in the top-10 three times in five races at Surfers Paradise and, along with his teammate, is one of 14 past winners of this race (no driver has ever repeated) capturing the victory inn in 2001. The resident of Miami, FL has qualified in the top-10 in all five of his attempts in Surfers Paradise with one pole (2002).

PKV Racing made its fourth and fifth starts while competing in its third race in Australia today. Today's third place finish by Vasser is their best. The team's previous high is 11th by Mika Salo in 2003 and Roberto Gonzalez in 2004. The team has qualified in the top-10 four times in five attempts with a best starting position of fourth by da Matta this year.

After the first 11 races in the 2005 Champ Car World Series season, PKV Racing has established a number of team records. Da Matta scored the team's first victory in their two plus year history in Portland (round #4) 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-five twice (Milwaukee and Las Vegas, Vasser -- third, da Matta -- fourth) and in the top-10 in a team record ten races, including a team record six consecutive races. Da Matta and Vasser have finished in the top-10 in the same race three times (eighth/10th at Long Beach; first/sixth, Portland and sixth/seventh, Montreal) this year and at least one of them placed in the top-six in eight of the 12 events including five consecutive races (the streak ended in Edmonton), which is also a team record.

Next up for PKV Racing is the Gran Premio de Mexico, November 4-6, at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, Mexico. It will be televised live at 3:30 p.m. (ET) on SPEED Channel.

For more information please visit: www.pkvracing.com or www.gulfstream.com.

-pkv-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Jimmy Vasser , Mika Salo , Oriol Servia , Mario Dominguez , Cristiano da Matta