CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: Rocketsports Racing Saturday report

DOMINGUEZ QUALIFIES ROCKETSPORTS CAR IN THE TOP TEN WHILE PIZZONIA'S STRONG MORNING TURNED UNFORTUNATE IN SURFERS PARADISE Notes SURFERS PARADISE, Australia (October 21, 2006) -- Mario Dominguez gives Rocketsports Racing a top ten qualifying ...

DOMINGUEZ QUALIFIES ROCKETSPORTS CAR IN THE TOP TEN WHILE PIZZONIA'S STRONG MORNING TURNED UNFORTUNATE IN SURFERS PARADISE

Notes SURFERS PARADISE, Australia (October 21, 2006) -- Mario Dominguez gives Rocketsports Racing a top ten qualifying position, while his teammate Antonio Pizzonia ran in the top five this morning but contact with the wall during qualifying failed to give him a positive starting position for tomorrow's Lexmark Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise, Australia.

Pizzonia turned heads this morning, running as the fastest rookie in the A.M. session after setting a time of 1:33.194 (107.968 mph, 173.758 kph), which saw him sit P5. Feeling confident with his knowledge of the track and the #18 Lexington Energy Services/Rocketsports car, despite only recording a total of 51 laps on the 2.796-mile temporary circuit on the streets of Surfers Paradise, he was ready for final qualifying. This afternoon, he was on pace to break that time and assumingly improve his overall grid position after running 10th in provisional qualifying on Friday.

However, that positive outlook quickly turned grim after he ran two laps this afternoon. Having troubles with his brakes, he experienced a complete lockup on the car on his third lap out leaving him with no where to go but into the wall. He had to climb out of the car during the practice segment of qualifying this afternoon due to damage on the right front of the car. Loosing valuable time while waiting for the car to return to the Rocketsports garage, the #18 crew were not able to start repairing the damage until the green flag dropped starting the final round of qualifying. Working as hard as they possibly could, they just could not get everything put back together in time to get Pizzonia back out on track, thus he was unable to make a run in today's final qualifying.

Pizzonia, who ran a 1:33.736 (107.344 mph, 172.752 kph) and sat P10 after the first round of qualifying, held that time but moved back three spots placing him 13th on the grid for tomorrow's race after the combined qualifying results were recorded. The 26-year-old driver will be making his third Champ Car start with the Rocketsports team when the green flag drops for the start of Round 13.

However, Pizzonia's misfortune did not ultimately end the team's hope for a positive result today. Dominguez ran a 1:34.415 (106.572 mph, 171.511 kph) and sat 11th after the morning session. He was then able to run some solid laps this afternoon as he continued to experience a faster #8 Pemex/GICSA/Del Valle car. Improvements on the car saw him run a 1:32.974 (108.224 mph, 174.169 kph), which placed him tenth in the final standings for qualifying. He will be making his 77th Champ Car start tomorrow, his second with the team.

Quotes Mario Dominguez #8 Pemex/GICSA/Del Valle/Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone "The track was slower today, but the #8 Pemex/GICSA/Del Valle car was faster. We had enough to move up into the top five or six on my last lap of qualifying this afternoon, but I lost that time because of a red flag. I am very happy with the progress that me, my engineer Brian Ma, and the team have been making on the set up of the car because it is definitely faster. So tomorrow I know that we will have a good car in the race. I am looking forward to a good race and hopefully finishing on the podium for Rocketsports, Pemex, GICSA, Del Valle, and my personal sponsors Telmex and Bridgestone."

Antonio Pizzonia #18 Lexington Energy Services/Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone "I am very disappointed. We had a brake issue during the warm-up segment of qualifying causing me to lock up everywhere on the track. That is what caused me to make contact with the wall, the entire #18 Lexington Energy Services car just locked up and there was nothing that I could do to avoid contact. We are still not sure what exactly the issue was, and we are looking into it. It was not too big of contact, but it was enough. My Lexington Energy Services crew did a fantastic job trying to repair the car in time for me to get a few laps in this afternoon during qualifying, but unfortunately we ran out of time. It is a shame because we did so well this morning. When looking at the lap times that were run this afternoon during qualifying and comparing them to the times I was running this morning, I feel that we could have qualified in the top three, if not even had a shot at the pole. My engineer, John Gentilozzi, and the Rocketsports team have given me the best car that I have had in the three Champ Car races that I competed in this season. So we should have a good race, but it will be hard starting from the back of the field in the 13th spot. We will work on having a smart strategy for the race tomorrow and see if we can not finish in the top five."

-credit: rocketsports racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Antonio Pizzonia , Mario Dominguez