CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: PKV Racing Saturday report



SURFERS PARADISE, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA -- SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2006 -- Round #13 -- 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing's Oriol Servia qualified sixth for tomorrow's Lexmark Indy 300 on the temporary street circuit in Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia. Teammate Katherine Legge will start 16th.

Servia, in the #6 Gulfsteam -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine, was unable to improve on his Friday provisional qualifying time, which clocked in at 92.371 seconds (108.930 mph), during today's final qualifying. He will start on the outside of Row #3. Legge, #20 Bell Micro -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, who did not turn a wheel in yesterday's qualifying session due to an engine problem, notched a fast lap today of 96.634 seconds (106.325 mph) in today's final qualifying placing her on the outside of Row #8.

Servia, who was fourth on the grid following provisional qualifying, suffered a setback in this morning's practice when the differential on his Gulfstream -- PKV Racing machine broke. This prevented the team from testing many of the changes they planned for final qualifying thus putting them behind the other competitors. Servia's quick lap in morning practice came in at 94.570 seconds (106.397 mph) placing him 12th on the individual practice report and 13th on the combined report. During the 15-minute afternoon practice/warm-up, Servia ran seven laps, tied for the most of any driver, turning a fast time of 94.707 seconds (106.243 mph), which placed him fifth on the individual report, but left 13th on the combined report. In qualifying, the Gulfstream -- PKV Racing team went with the standard two stint strategy. Servia took to the track with 24 minutes remaining in the session and, running on black tires, was steadily moving up the charts when a red flag flew five laps into what should have been a seven lap run thus preventing a least one additional fast lap. Servia posted a quick time of 93.674 seconds on the fifth of the five laps, which placed him ninth on speed charts. The Gulfstream -- PKV Racing team went back out for its second stint with seven minutes to go, but once again was hampered by a red flag, which brought an end to the session with Servia unable to improve on his provisional qualifying time.

"The Gulfstream -- PKV Racing car was okay today," Servia said. "I probably should have run a little better than yesterday, which would have put me in a better position. The basic problem was that the differential broke on us this morning, so we lost the whole morning practice session. That meant we couldn't try some of the things we wanted to and the other drivers were able to improve their cars. The other problem was the red flag. That hurt us a little, but that was the same for everybody."

Servia went on to say, "The Gulfstream -- PKV Racing car wasn't the easiest to drive. We definitely have some room for improvement, but we still had a decent qualifying effort and we will start sixth, which should be okay for the race tomorrow."

Servia is making his seventh start on the 2.795-mile, 11-turn Surfers Paradise downtown street circuit. He has now qualified in the top-10 four times in seven attempts with one pole, the first and only of his Champ Car career, which he earned last year. He has finished in the top-10 twice in six previous races, placing a career best fifth last year and ninth in 2000.

Servia is looking for another strong performance in Surfers this year 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 currently sits eighth in the standings with 169 points just 15 points out of fourth place with two races remaining in the 2006 season. He 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, who is making his 13th start for PKV Racing, has been exceptionally consistent in qualifying this year. He has qualified in the top-10 in 11 of the 13 races with five top-five starting spots. His qualifying record to date is one 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 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 returning to competition following her horrific crash just over three weeks ago at Road America, posted a fast lap of 95.415 seconds (105.455 mph in morning practice, which placed her 16th on the individual practice report and 17th on the combined report. During the 15-minute afternoon warm-up, she ran six laps turning a time of 98.650 seconds (101.997 mph) placing her 15th on the individual practice report and leaving her 17th on the combined report. Legge also ran two stints in qualifying running seven laps during the first stint and four in the second, which concluded with a spin in Turn #4 bringing out the final red flag.

"I think the thing that hurt the Bell Micro -- PKV Racing team the most in qualifying was the lack of track time due to the engine problem we had yesterday," Legge said. "It's is my first time here at Surfers Paradise and this is a very tricky and challenging circuit. You really have to get it right to get the best time and I just didn't have enough time on the track to put a really good lap together," she explained. "Obviously I am disappointed, but the Bell Micro -- PKV Racing team will make some changes to the car tonight and I am confident we can have a good race tomorrow," Legge concluded.

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 13 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 now qualified in the top-10 five times in seven attempts with a best starting position of fourth by Cristiano da Matta in 2005 (Salo, 10th -- 2003; Vasser, eighth -- 2004 and 2005, Servia, sixth - 2006). They have finished in the top-10 three once with Vasser finishing third last year.

-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