CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: Walker Racing race report

Walker Racing rookie Darren Manning claimed his first podium finish in Sunday's Lexmark Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise, Australia, his 19th start in the ...

Walker Racing rookie Darren Manning claimed his first podium finish in Sunday's Lexmark Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise, Australia, his 19th start in the #15 Walker Racing Champ Car. The second place effort garnered the British rookie 16 additional championship points allowing him to pass Alex Tagliani for ninth place in the championship as the Champ Car World Series heads to the season finale in Fontana, California next week. Teammate Rodolfo Lavin also put in a great run earning eighth place in his #5 Corona Competition Team machine matching his best finish of the season previously collected at Germany (11 May).

Rodolfo Lavin (R), #5 Corona Competition Team Ford-Cosworth XFE-Reynard-Bridgestone

Lavin started 18th after a difficult two days of qualifying. He quickly collected three positions moving into 15th by Lap 3. The rain that had threatened prior to race start made its way to the Gold Coast on Lap 13, Lavin and much of the field pitted for wet tires. CART Officials red flagged the race on Lap 14. It took approximately 45 minutes to restart the race once the rain ceased and safety crews dried the track. The Mexican rookie moved up into seventh place on Lap 21 when he was hit by Mika Salo as the two battled for position. The contact flatten the left rear tire on the #5 Corona car which came onto pit lane on Lap 22 for full service receiving new wet tires and fuel. Lavin came from 13th to fourth place by Lap 32, running behind teammate Darren Manning. Lavin, on wet tires, fell to ninth before pitting for slicks on Lap 38. He finished eighth.

"It's a great day for the Walker Racing team with Darren finishing second and me matching my season-best finish. It's been a difficult weekend, but the Corona Walker Racing crew gave me a good pit strategy that helped me work my way to an eighth place finish. It was hard to stay ahead of the changing track conditions, but we were able to run the consistent, clean race that we wanted and got a good result out of it. It's a great way to go into the season-finale next weekend."

Fast Facts: Marked his 18th Champ Car start and first trip to Australia, Matched his career-best start of eighth earned at Germany (11 May), Now has 17 points in the drivers championship collecting five points for Sunday's eighth place finish

Darren Manning, (R), #15 Walker Racing Ford-Cosworth XFE-Reynard-Bridgestone

Manning started 14th in his #15 Walker Racing Champ Car working his way to eleventh by Lap 3. On Lap 13, he made his first pit stop of the day for wet tires under yellow. The #15 Walker Racing pit crew gave Manning a fantastic stop vaulting the British rookie from eleventh to eighth. On Lap 18, Manning got tangled up in an on-track incident as Tracy, Fernandez and Moreno came together. Manning got stopped behind the grouping, but fortunately did not make contact and was able to return to action. He fell to 15th. Team owner Derrick Walker opted for an alternate pit strategy bringing Manning in on Lap 20 under yellow for fuel and tires. As the field returned to green on Lap 21, Manning advanced into eighth place. By Lap 29, his wet tires had gone completely off so Manning opted to pit for slicks on Lap 30, one of the first few drivers to do so. The move paid off hugely as the yellow flag flew on Lap 31, closing the pits. As the leaders pitted on Lap 32, Manning moved into third place. On Lap 44, Manning capitalized on a mistake by Vasser passing him for second.

"The RAC Walker Racing crew has had this result coming to us all year. It feels fantastic! We struggled for pace all weekend and knew going into the race today that we'd have to do something special with our pit stop strategy, and we did. As always, the boys gave me just amazing stops! I've been quick in the rain all year, so I was confident we'd do well. I am from England after all. We made the call to stop early for slicks. I had no grip left on those wet tires, so I thought I might as well have no grip on slicks and start getting temperature in them for when it was dry. It's a pretty amazing day when you go to last on the grid with an incident to finishing second!"

Fast Facts: Marked his 19th Champ Car start, Earned 16 points for his second place finish in Sunday's Lexmark Indy 300, Claimed ninth place in drivers championship from Alex Tagliani with Sunday's career-high effort, Has scored championship points in 16 of 18 events this season including earning points in the last eleven consecutive races, Made Champ Car history in Denver (31 August) by becoming the first rookie driver to string together eight consecutive top-ten finishes, Has 15 top-ten finishes to his credit in just 18 starts in 2003, Currently ranked ninth in the championship points standings with 103 points, Ranked second in the Rookie of the Year standings


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Mika Salo , Alex Tagliani , Rodolfo Lavin