CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: Team Australia race report

TAGLIANI BRINGS TEAM AUSTRALIA HOME RACE PODIUM AS POWER STARS IN SURFERS Team Australia performed admirably at its home event to score third with Alex Tagliani and have local hero Will Power star at the Lexmark Indy 300 at Surfers Paradise in...

TAGLIANI BRINGS TEAM AUSTRALIA HOME RACE PODIUM AS POWER STARS IN SURFERS

Team Australia performed admirably at its home event to score third with Alex Tagliani and have local hero Will Power star at the Lexmark Indy 300 at Surfers Paradise in Queensland today.

Tagliani drove a smart and calculated race to take the final step on the podium and give Team Australia its first podium at the Lexmark Indy 300 and the team's first podium since Long Beach in April this year.

Tagliani moved into the top 10 in the Champ Car World Series standings with the podium result, his second third place finish of the season. Tagliani moved ahead of Paul Tracy in the late stages of the race after Tracy was penalised for cutting the VB Chicane.

Power today confirmed himself as a future star of Champ Car by leading the early stages of the race from pole position. The adoring local fans cheered on Power as he led the first 13 laps of the race before making his first pit stop.

The Toowoomba-born driver met his first incident when exiting the pit lane as Paul Tracy came across and contacted the #5 Aussie Vineyards car, damaging the front wing and rear bodywork.

Power left the pits in second place as new leader Charles Zwolsman elected not to pit. Power was in a comfortable position, showing great car speed and conserving fuel when his chances of a debut podium or quite possibly race win were shattered.

Sebastien Bourdais entered turn three with locked brakes and careered into the front left wheel of Power's Team Australia Lola. The impact damaged the front suspension of the Aussie Vineyards car and Power lost one lap as the damage took two pit stops to repair.

With his steering and bodywork damaged, Power persevered with his stricken car to collect as many championship points as possible towards not on the championship but also the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year Standings.

His efforts paid dividends with 12th place getting the Australian nine points towards the championship, adding to the two earned for pole position on Friday and Saturday. Power is now eighth in the championship and has extended his lead in the rookie standings to 15 points over Dan Clarke, who crashed out of today's race.

Frenchman Nelson Philippe won today's Lexmark Indy 300 marginally ahead of Mexico's Mario Dominguez. Philippe is the sixteenth winner from 16 events on the Gold Coast, keeping alive the trend of no driver winning the Lexmark Indy 300 twice.

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY --

Alex Tagliani -- #15 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Lola

"I have a little bit of mixed feelings for our team because Will was doing really well and I saw his car on the side and I know it's going to take him a while to get over this race," said Tagliani.

"I've been there in Montreal, being on the pole and could win the race and something goes wrong. So for our team it was quite important to try to come home with a podium finish. There was a new sponsor on board this weekend. I think for the future of the Team Australia program, showing how competitive the team was and finishing with the podium this weekend, especially on a big event like this, was quite important.

"I think we had a chance at winning the race. Unfortunately, on the first pace lap the dash went completely blank and the battery voltage was down. So the team asked me to run higher revs, so obviously that meant no saving fuel.

"So I was forced to save a lot of fuel later in the race when I was running at speed, because I needed to catch up the time that I couldn't save fuel on full course yellow and then we were always playing catch-up during the race.

"So the car was very competitive, but when we were out there, we needed to save so much fuel for what we were not able to save during the full course yellow."

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

"Team Australia did an amazing job and I have to thank the whole team for all of their hard work," said Power.

"We had a good car and I was controlling the race, but unfortunately that corner seems to always be the corner I get taken out on. One thing I know for sure is that next year I will be sure to look in my mirrors."

"I was surprised Sebastien did that because AJ was out of the race and the championship was his. He ruined my race and my home event. We were conserving a lot of fuel and had not used the push to pass even once. I'm really disappointed right now but by tomorrow I will begin to focus on Mexico City."

Craig Gore -- Team Australia Co-Owner

"Today was Will's day but he had it taken away from him with a stupid move," said Gore.

"Sebastien had no reason to do that, but he did and I think it was because he knew how strong Will and the Team Australia car really was this weekend.

"Will has shown this weekend that he is the coming force in this series and I cannot wait to see him get in that new car next year. I know how shattered he is but I also know that he realises the entire Team Australia operation is proud of him and behind him 100 percent.

"Alex drove a very smart race today. He did not have the pace of Will but he showed his experience and did everything right in the race to get up the front.

"I will remember this weekend for the rest of my life. Will earned our first Champ Car pole and drove like a champion and Alex used his head and picked up Team Australia's first Gold Coast podium. What a weekend."

Derrick Walker -- Team Australia Co-Owner

"We never got the car right for Alex this weekend but as often happens at this event, a lot can happen during the race," said Walker.

"Alex kept at it and he thoroughly deserved his podium today. It shows the depth of the team that we could still work at it and get the car stronger and stronger over the course of the race to get the car on the podium.

"We had great fuel management and were able to keep track position while conserving the fuel. Sometimes you need to use the fuel up to push hard and sometimes you need to conserve fuel and Alex and the crew did that well today.

"Will had a podium car today and he drove like a champion.

"It was an uncharacteristic move by Mr Bourdais and it put Will out of contention, which was a damn shame.

"Will deserved his day in the sun today but he didn't get to have it here at his home race. But I have no doubt he'll have his day on the podium and his day as a winner very soon."

-credit: team australia

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Mario Dominguez , Sébastien Bourdais , Nelson Philippe , Will Power , Daniel Clarke