CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: Team Australia Friday report

WILL POWER PUTS TEAM AUSTRALIA ON POLE POSITION ON HOME SOIL Australian Will Power has given Team Australia and its home fans the best possible start to this weekend's Lexmark Indy 300 by qualifying on provisional pole position at...

WILL POWER PUTS TEAM AUSTRALIA ON POLE POSITION ON HOME SOIL

Australian Will Power has given Team Australia and its home fans the best possible start to this weekend's Lexmark Indy 300 by qualifying on provisional pole position at Surfers Paradise today.

Power grabbed pole in opening qualifying for Round 13 of the Champ Car World Series with an outstanding lap around the demanding Gold Coast street circuit. The fastest time in today's session assures the Toowoomba-born driver a front row start in Sunday's race.

Power was on top of the times sheets in the early stages of the session before the Newman-Haas pair of Sebastien Bourdais and Bruno Junqueira moved above the #5 Aussie Vineyards Lola.

Power and his engineer Brandon Fry then made some changes to the Team Australia Lola and fitted the car with a new set of Bridgestone's red 'option' tyres. The local favourite then followed up his early form in the morning practice to set a scintillating pace in front of his cheering home fans.

Power was on an even faster lap when the red flag was brought out as a result of AJ Allmendinger colliding with one of the unforgiving Gold Coast concrete walls, giving Power his first front row start in Champ Car and his first pole in a Champ Car qualifying session. This will be the first front row start for Team Australia in this year's championship.

Power's team-mate Alex Tagliani also made a set-up change mid-session but it did not prove as successful and the Canadian finished eighth in the #15 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Lola.

Tagliani and Power have both been on the pace from the work go today at the team's home event. The Aussie Vineyards Lolas have been fast from the word go. Tagliani is confident that he will be able to match his young team-mate's form in final qualifying tomorrow, while Power has stated that he will still be pushing hard for tomorrow in an attempt to follow up today's superb efforts.

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY --

Will Power -- #5 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Lola

"This is the best start we could have had," said Power.

"Derrick (Walker) said to put red (option tyres) on and I said 'can we get pole?' He said 'yes', so I went for it.

"This is the best possible position to be in so we can relax a little tomorrow because we know we will be on the front row for the start of the race.

"We went out on the black tyres and did a reasonable lap, so then we sat back and waited until 12 minutes to go. We put on the red tyres and pushed really hard and the car was ideal. My engineer Brandon Fry made a few changes to the car and now we are on the pole, so he has done a great job.

"I was surprised we did a 1minute 31 second lap time, especially a 31.4.

"We will still push hard tomorrow. The track gets quicker as the weekend goes on so we have to keep on it. This is a great start and I am so pleased we have done this in front of this great Australian crowd."

Alex Tagliani -- #15 Team Australia Aussie Vineyards Lola

"We have a good car, but unfortunately in qualifying the car was not as good as it was this morning," said Tagliani.

"We made some changes and they didn't work as well as we wanted, which put us behind some of the guys that improved. Will made some changes that worked and that helped put him up front.

"I'm really happy for him and Team Australia. Hopefully we are both up the front tomorrow."

Derrick Walker -- Team Australia Co-Owner

"A lot of teams tested at Elkhart Lake in preparation for that race in September but we decided to save our efforts and resources and focus totally on Surfers," said Walker.

"It allowed our engineers to spend some extra time on getting our cars set up for the Surfers chicanes.

"Out of the box the car in the morning the car was good. The guys have been terrific and Will is comfortable in the car.

"A lap like that requires the driver to be totally committed and you also have to have a good car under you. Will was able to pull it all together.

"It's good to do this at our 'home' event. We are all really happy."

Craig Gore -- Team Australia Co-Owner

"Just awesome, what more can you say," said Gore.

"This is certainly one of the proudest days of my life. The crowd support here this weekend has been just amazing. It will be incredible if we can achieve even a podium.

"I can't thank everyone enough for their well wishes and messages of support. This is just an awesome feeling and an incredible performance by Will and the entire Team Australia crew."

TEAM AUSTRALIA LEXMARK INDY 300 FAST FACTS

Will Power has raced at the Lexmark Indy 300 on four occasions. While his Champ Car debut was at the 2005 event, Power raced from 2000-2002 in support categories, taking a win on all three occasions.

Alex Tagliani has raced at the Lexmark Indy 300 six times, with his best Australian result coming in 2001 when he finished third behind Cristiano da Matta and Michael Andretti.

There has never been a repeat winner of the Lexmark Indy 300. If the trend is to continue, Team Australia drivers Will Power and Alex Tagliani could be a chance of maintaining what many in Champ Car call the 'Gold Coast Hoodoo'.

Four past winners of the Lexmark Indy 300 are competing in this year's race. They are Paul Tracy, Mario Dominguez, Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais.

-credit: team australia

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Mario Dominguez , Sébastien Bourdais , Will Power , Cristiano da Matta