LATE RACE INCIDENT RUINS SERVIA'S MOLSON GRAND PRIX OF TORONTO Legge Has Difficult Race Finishes 14th TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA -- SUNDAY, JULY 8, 2006 -- Round ...
LATE RACE INCIDENT RUINS SERVIA'S MOLSON GRAND PRIX OF TORONTO
Legge Has Difficult Race Finishes 14th
TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA -- SUNDAY, JULY 8, 2006 -- Round #7 -- 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- For the third time this season, and perhaps the most grievous, PKV Racing's Oriol Servia was the innocent victim of an on track incident that at minimum prevented him from finishing fifth at today's Molson Grand Prix of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Servia, who pilots the #6 Gulfsteam -- PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine, was running in fifth place and gaining on the leaders, who were conserving fuel, when on lap 76 of the 86 lap event Nelson Phillipe came barreling down the straightaway as the two were heading into Turn #3 and slammed into the rear of Servia's car. Both cars careened into the tires in the runoff area bringing an end to their race and placing Servia 12th. Meanwhile, Katherine Legge and her #20 Bell Micro -- PKV Racing Ford Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone car got involved in an incident with Jan Heylan early in the race, but battled back and was running in 13th place when she experienced a mechanical problem that sent her into the wall. Legge finished 14th.
Servia, who started fifth, dropped to sixth on the opening lap. When the leaders pitted during an early yellow flag on lap 11, the Gulfstream -- PKV Racing team decided to stay out moving Servia into second place. He ran in second until lap 25 when he was forced to pit after experiencing a problem with the left front of the car. Rejoining the race in 12th place, but with plenty of clear track, Servia was able to unleash his car and rapidly began to gain track position. He was already ninth by the time the leaders began to pit for the second time, between laps 46 and 50, moving him into fourth. More importantly the track position Servia gained by being out of sequence and running on clear track really paid off when he made his second stop on lap 54. Servia came out of the pits following the stop in fifth place, but one lap later dropped to seventh when he and Alex Tagliani touched wheels allowing Justin Wilson and Tagliani to get by. Servia, who easily had enough fuel to finish the race, regrouped and was once again on the move. When Phillipe and Tagliani, who were using different out sequence strategies, pitted on lap 64 and 70 respectively, Servia was back in fifth. At that point he began to use his fuel advantage to press the car ahead. Six laps later, Phillipe came up from behind and appeared to miss, or even forget about, his braking point ramming Servia from behind and sending both cars sliding into the tires.
"It was a weird race," Servia began. "We had a problem with the left front of the car during the first stint. I still don't know what was wrong. So we pitted early. But, it actually worked out well for the Gulfstream -- PKV Racing team because we had a lot of clear track and I was extremely fast on my own," he explained. "Then at the end, the other drivers were saving fuel and I was good to go to the end, so I thought we were in good shape. Then Nelson (Phillipe), I think, obviously he missed his braking point. I don't know maybe he was focused on something else and just forgot where he was braking and he nailed us. There was nothing I could do at that point," Servia noted. "It's a shame for the whole Gulfstream -- PKV Racing team because we had good momentum. We had a good qualifying session, the car was fast, so we are moving forward it is just a shame we missed all those points for the championship," he concluded.
Servia made his sixth start at Toronto and seventh for PKV Racing today. He has now finished in the top-10 three times with a best showing of second last year (fifth in 2003 and ninth in 2004) on the 1.755-mile, 11-turn Exhibition Place temporary street circuit. Servia has qualified in the top-10 four times in six attempts in Toronto, all in the last four years. His best starting position is fourth, last year (eighth in 2003, 10th in 2004, fifth in 2006).
Today's 12th place showing snaps a streak of four consecutive top-10 finishes for Servia. He has finished in the top-10 in four of the seven races this year including the team's first podium showing of the season a third place performance two weeks ago in Cleveland (eighth in Monterrey, fifth in Milwaukee, 10th in Portland). Servia has qualified in the top-10 six times in seven attempts this year. In addition to today's fifth place starting spot he has qualified a season high fourth in Cleveland, seventh twice (Milwaukee and Monterrey, Mexico) and eighth twice (Long Beach and Houston). After starting the season last in the points after getting knocked out on the first lap in the season opener in Long Beach and then being sent into the tire barrier at Houston, but gaining enough points to move into 16th place, Servia had been on a tear that saw him earn 73 points and move ninth place in the point standings. Today's finish drops him to 11th in the championship race with 95 points.
Servia, who is in his seventh Champ Car season, made his 105th career Champ Car start this weekend. He has earned 55 top-ten finishes including 27 top-five showings, 13 podium performances and one victory (Montreal 2005). The resident of Miami, Florida, who has finished in the top-10 in the standings the last three years, is coming off his best Champ Car season placing second last year.
Legge, who qualified 15th, moved into 14th place on the opening lap. On lap nine she became entangled with fellow rookie Jan Heylan precipitating the first yellow flag. After pitting to check for damage, and to get new Bridgestone rubber, Legge came back on track in 17th place. When Tonis Kasemets and Heylan pitted on lap 17, Legge moved in 14th place where she remained until lap 40 when Mario Dominguez pitted moving Legge into 13th place. Legge pitted for the second time on lap 45 dropping her to 14th, but moved back into 13th place one lap later when Kasemets made his second stop. She ran in 13th until suffering the mechanical problem on lap 64.
"I am not really sure what happened," Legge began. "I was coming out of the last turn and something went wrong. I had big understeer coming out of the corner and there was just no chance I was going to make it," she explained. "Today just did not go the Bell Micro -- PKV Racing team's way. I came together with Jan (Heylan) early in the race and things just got worse after that. The only redeeming factor was I had the quickest lap time until that happened," Legge noted. "It is unfortunate. The Bell Micro -- PKV Racing crew did a good job all weekend and even though the race wasn't going great we were still going to pick up some good points. We will just have to regroup and set our sights on Edmonton," she concluded.
Legge made her first Champ Car start in Toronto (although she raced in Toronto in 2005 while competing in the Atlantic Championship Series starting sixth and finishing sixth) and the seventh of her career today. Legge has earned three top-10 finishes in her first seven Champ Car races, placing a season, and career, high sixth at Milwaukee, eighth in her Champ Car debut at Long Beach and eighth in Cleveland (she was 13th at Portland and 14th at Houston, Monterrey and her in Toronto). Legge has qualified in the top-10 once, a career high eighth on the oval in Milwaukee, in seven attempts. In addition to today's 15th place starting position she qualified a road/street course high 14th in Cleveland, 15th twice (Houston and Portland) and 17th twice (Long Beach and Monterrey, Mexico). The resident of Indianapolis, Indiana has earned 79 championship points, which place her 14th in the championship race and tied for second in the Champ Car rookie of the year race with Dan Clarke. She trails Will Power by six points, 85-79.