CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: Team Australia Friday notes

POWER SECOND FASTEST IN OPENING QUALIFYING ON THE GOLD COAST Will Power has reconfirmed his prowess around the Surfers Paradise street circuit by setting the second fastest time in opening qualifying for the Lexmark Indy 300 on the Gold ...


Will Power has reconfirmed his prowess around the Surfers Paradise street circuit by setting the second fastest time in opening qualifying for the Lexmark Indy 300 on the Gold Coast today.

Power drove the #5 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01 Champ Car to second fastest in the first of two qualifying sessions for this weekend, bumped from the provisional pole position by Spaniard Oriol Servia by a mere 0.033 seconds in the final stages of the session.

The Australian had the crowd cheering half way through the session when he set a time that put his green and gold machine on the top of the timesheets, eclipsing the previous best of Sebastien Bourdais.

Power was on-track to go even quicker on his very next lap but had a harmless spin at Seek Corner, able to continue on with no contact or damage and return to the pits. Not so lucky was Bourdais, who then crashed in the first chicane trying to match Power's effort and heavily damaged his car.

Bourdais' incident brought out a red flag and a second red flag was flown when Alex Tagliani spun soon after, leaving teams less than two minutes to set a faster time.

Power's car was switched to the softer 'red' tyres for the final run to the flag but his effort was ruined when he came across a slowing car on his fast lap.

Servia, also on the Bridgestone red tyres, was able to go fractionally quicker than Power's mark and guarantee the PKV Racing pilot a front row starting position for Sunday's race. British driver Justin Wilson was third.

Power set his best time on the harder compound 'black' tyres but still managed to set a time of 1:30.895, which was quicker than the time the Toowoomba-born driver set to gain pole position for last year's Lexmark Indy 300. Power's 2006 pole time was 1:31.403.

Team Australia's rising rookie Simon Pagenaud enjoyed his first day of action around the demanding 4.47-kilometre street circuit today.

The Frenchman was ninth fastest on the opening day of the event, which is the 13th round in the 2007 Champ Car World Series.

With the experience of today's running Pagenaud is confident of climbing higher up the order for tomorrow.

Final qualifying will be run on Saturday before the Lexmark Indy 300 is staged on Sunday.


Will Power -- #5 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01

"Unfortunately we are in a tough pit position so we had a lot of cars in front of us at that final run," said Power.

"We decided to wait. My last lap, I still got traffic. I was surprised that Oriol was able to get a time out there, because there was so much traffic.

"We had the car speed. We were plenty quick enough. We just had a mixed session. The first run, it was a reasonable lap time.

"Obviously on my last lap of that run, I was one tenth up until the small spin.

"So, yeah, nothing we can do about it. We'll come back tomorrow and have a shot at pole.

"The fans support has been great and it's awesome to see all the green and gold in the stands, but once I'm in the car I'm pretty focused. With fast chicanes, you don't really want to look up. I think that's what Sebastien was doing, wasn't it? He must have been looking up (laughter).

"My red tyres came on reasonably quickly, I just didn't really get a good run on the reds at the end. I think it was tough to get the temperature in my tyres. I had to back way off because we had so many cars in front. But when I started that lap, it did feel quite nice."

"I'm sure there's more time in the car definitely, so I'm sure Derrick will be on the phone to Craig back at home letting him know how we went and when I speak to him I'll tell him that we have a good chance and a nice car for tomorrow."

Simon Pagenaud -- #15 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01

"Well it's a tough track to be honest," said Pagenaud.

"We had a good set-up and the Aussie Vineyards car was great. It really is a tough track, I've never seen anything like it before, so I just need to get used to it.

"There were two places where we lost time but we will sleep on it and try to go for it tomorrow.

"Tomorrow I will have a day of running under my belt, so hopefully Will and I can both give Craig Gore something to smile about back at his home."

Derrick Walker -- Team Australia Co-Owner

"It was a bit of a strange finish to what was a well executed plan," said Walker.

"Everything the guys worked on prior to coming here really panned out and worked really well.

"We were right on target. You just never can predict the yellows and the traffic. Our pit position put us at a little bit of a disadvantage at the end because a lot of people went out in front of us we had to take a little bit longer to get a gap.

"Of course there was so little time at the end we didn't have enough time to get up to speed well enough to get pole.

"I think the car is perfectly capable of getting pole and tomorrow I think we will be there with at least one of our cars.

"Simon has had a typical rookie year. For the first day it's quite a special track here and he's finding out, as every rookie does, how difficult it is to put it together here at Surfers.

"But he's still on his game and the guys are doing a great job with him and getting him the car he needs.

"It's a bit strange not having my partner in crime Craig Gore here shouting at me on why we didn't get the pole, I'm sure he's shouting at me from his home and cheering us on at the same time. We just want to wish him well and hope that we can do better for him tomorrow."

Craig Gore -- Team Australia Co-Owner

"A very solid day for the team and to be pipped at the post right at the end of the session is frustrating," said Gore.

"It's a classic case of so near but yet so far. It was a great effort by everyone but we fell just short of the top spot.

"Will's car was great today and I'm sure there is a fair bit of speed left in it for final qualifying tomorrow. It's a shame he just missed the pole today but now he can focus on getting the top spot tomorrow.

"Simon would have learned a great deal today and will enter tomorrow with some tricks he would have learned today. This track is about as tough as it gets so to be in the top 10 on his first day around the place is a solid start.

"The guys are doing a fantastic job and it's great to hear that the crowd is really getting behind Team Australia. I wish I was there with the crew but I know that they are a fantastic bunch and have everything under control to go one better for tomorrow."

Race Director Denies Team Australia's Request to Reconsider Penalty

Team Australia was denied their request by Race Director Tony Cotman to reconsider the penalty that was handed to them at the last Champ Car event in Assen.

Cotman ordered all drivers to stop using the Cosworth Power-to-Pass because of a software glitch. After the race it was determined seven drivers used Power-to-Pass after the order was given.

The Power-to-Pass system is a system that allows drivers to gain 50 extra horsepower from their Cosworth XFE engines for brief periods during a race by pressing a button on the steering wheel.

As a result, Dan Clarke, Neel Jani, Bruno Junqueira and Team Australia drivers Simon Pagenaud and Will Power were penalized for the next round, the Lexmark Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise, Australia and will only have 35 seconds of Power-to-Pass allocation. The two other drivers found to be in breach, Ryan Dalziel and Tristan Gommendy, are not racing in Australia this weekend. The remainder of the field will have the full compliment of 75 seconds.

Team Australia met with Cotman and presented data and voice recording information to explain the events in Assen where Power and Pagenaud were penalized for using Power-to-Pass after being instructed not to do so by the stewards. Cotman denied the team's request to reconsider to change the penalty, even with concern by the team that the penalty was too severe for what was a small team mistake.

Cotman made the decision based on the grounds of safety to penalize any team using the Power-to-Pass and he will stick by his original decision, and therefore denies Team Australia's request.

Derrick Walker -- Team Australia Co-Owner

"We obviously respect Tony Cotman's decision as it was done on the grounds of safety and we will of course respect and deal with it. The impact on the team is very severe as Power-to-Pass is the key element of racing in Champ Car and being reduced by 50 percent of what most of the competitors will have is a huge disadvantage for our team."

-credit: team australia

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Ryan Dalziel , Justin Wilson , Bruno Junqueira , Alex Tagliani , Oriol Servia , Sébastien Bourdais , Neel Jani , Tristan Gommendy , Will Power , Daniel Clarke , Simon Pagenaud