CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: Team Australia Saturday notes

Team Australia Champ Car star Will Power has scored his second-consecutive Lexmark Indy 300 pole position in final qualifying for Round 13 of the Champ Car World Series on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia today. Power gave his team...

Team Australia Champ Car star Will Power has scored his second-consecutive Lexmark Indy 300 pole position in final qualifying for Round 13 of the Champ Car World Series on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia today.

Power gave his team co-owner and countryman Craig Gore the best possible 'get well' present by beating the lap record for the Surfers Paradise street circuit that has stood for five years. Gore is at his Gold Coast home recovering from an inner ear operation earlier this week.

The previous lap record on the Gold Coast was a 1:30.204 set by Brazil's Cristiano da Matta in 2002, eclipsed today by Power's #5 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01, which scorched around the 4.47-kilometre circuit in a time of 1:30.054.

This effort is Power's fourth pole position for the season, following on from poles in Las Vegas, Houston and Edmonton in Canada. Power's scored his debut pole position at last year's Lexmark Indy 300, making today's pole his fifth career Champ Car pole.

Amazingly, Power smashed the time that earned him pole for last year's race, with the Toowoomba driver's new-for-2007 Team Australia DP01 Champ Car well quicker than the 1:31.403 that gave Power pole for last year's event.

The 26-year-old was second fastest by the narrowest of margins in yesterday's opening qualifying but put the rest of the Champ Car field on notice today, over six tenths of a second quicker than second-fastest driver Paul Tracy.

Power went to the top of the qualifying timesheets by beating Oriol Servia's time from yesterday halfway through the 30-minute session on the set of softer 'red' Bridgestone tyres that he also used in yesterday's session.

With just under 10 minutes remaining in the session Power returned to the circuit on a brand new set of the 'red' tyres. The proud Aussie soon brought his home crowd to its feet with a sensational lap that had his car using every millimetre of the demanding street circuit. Power later said that his four flying laps on the new tyres were the hardest four laps of his career to date.

Efforts by Paul Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais to topple the time in the dying stages of final qualifying, bringing a cheer from Power, who at the end of the session was already watching the timing screens with Team Australia co-owner Derrick Walker and the crew on the pit wall.

Soon after the post-qualifying press conference Power was on the phone to Gore, the two agreeing that today's effort is the perfect lead-up to the 'real job' in tomorrow's race.

Power's team-mate Simon Pagenaud also performed admirably on the Gold Coast today, driving the #15 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01 to sixth fastest.

The effort made the Frenchman the fastest rookie and made Team Australia the only team that will have both its cars start tomorrow's Lexmark Indy 300 from the first three rows on the grid.

Will Power -- #5 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01

"It was a great job by the team today," said Power.

"But we are not getting too excited because it's a long race.

"I haven't spoken to Craig Gore yet but no doubt I will soon. I think he'll be pretty happy. He'll be a lot happier if I win the race.

"That's probably the hardest four laps I've ever done in my life. I pushed super-hard because I knew we had the car to do it.

"I just had to get the lap together. I was even on a quicker one in the last lap, but (Mario) Dominguez blocked me.

"I think the key to tomorrow is to get a good start. We have a really good race car and it was very strong in practice early today. We practiced with full fuel loads and everything. So I'm looking forward to tomorrow. We just have a good strategy and get it done.

"Yeah, it's a very small part of the weekend, qualifying We've got to  .
get the race right this time and win it                                .

"We'll just be conservative with our Power-to-Pass. I think if you get out in the lead, you have a really quick car, you don't Power-to-Pass. It's only when someone attacks you, if you have someone slower in front of you or you need to pass someone.

"It would be nice to lead away and control the race from the front but Champ Car racing is pretty mixed up, especially this year with the way the yellows have fallen. You can have a perfect strategy, but if the yellows don't go your way, you don't get the right fuel strategy, you can end up absolutely nowhere.

"I must say it is easier when you're leading because you have control whether to come in or not to come in. But, yeah, it's a long day tomorrow.

"I look forward to this part of the weekend when I actually get to jump in the car. I'm hoping I'll sleep well tonight and be fresh for tomorrow.

"There is probably a lot of expectation after last year and also how well we've done this year. You know, that adds a little bit of pressure. I perform well under pressure all the time. Ask Derrick Walker, he knows. He always winds me up if I'm starting to feel comfortable.

"Because our team and myself are such a big part of this event, I really feel the atmosphere. Out of all the races you do all year, no matter who you ask in the paddock, they all say this is the best race.

"I mean, it's right on a beach, it's a very difficult circuit for drivers. You ask any of the rookies, they say it's the toughest street circuit they've ever been to. It's unforgiving. It's a great event."

Simon Pagenaud -- #15 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01

"Today was a much better today than it was yesterday," said Pagenaud.

"I feel like I tried really hard today and I gained time everywhere. It's such a tough track, but my Aussie Vineyards car did really well and my #15 Team Australia crew has been the best.

"We have been great at saving fuel and I think we can save good fuel during the race and jump on the podium. You can expect a good result from us and I'm quite happy with P6 and it's great to be in front of all the rookies.

"I want to say hi to Craig and wish he could be here and want to let him know we wish him a quick recovery."

Derrick Walker -- Team Australia Co-Owner

"Well it's half the mission accomplished, tomorrow's the big one," said Walker.

"I think it's fair to say Will, Simon and the team are as well prepared as they've ever been for any race.

"I feel very comfortable that we have done what we need to get where we are. Big job tomorrow, but I think we are up to it.

"If we get some lucky breaks and Power-to-Pass doesn't become too much of a disadvantage for us, then I say we should be running up there with a chance of winning.

"I haven't seen or spoken to Craig since I've been at the track, but I have to think if he's not crying with joy I would be very surprised. This race is a part of his dream with this program and I'm sure he's lapping it up just as much as I am.

"I wish him a speedy recovery to come here and get as much out of it as I am right now."

Craig Gore -- Team Australia Co-Owner

"We have unfinished business -- it ain't done yet," said Gore.

"We got the pole last year and did not win the race.

"This year Derrick and the team have worked tirelessly for this race with just one thought in mine -- getting the job done."

Credit: ta

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Paul Tracy , Sébastien Bourdais , Will Power , Simon Pagenaud , Cristiano da Matta