CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto: PKV Racing race report



TORONTO, CANADA -- SUNDAY, JULY 10, 2005 -- Round #6 -- 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing's Jimmy Vasser finished fourth today in a crashed filled Molson Indy Toronto at Exhibition Place in Toronto, Canada. Teammate Cristiano da Matta was a victim of one of the incidents and placed 14th.

The fourth place finish is a season high for Vasser, who has now piloted the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone car, to four consecutive top-six showings. He earned 23 points for his effort and holds down the #6 spot in the championship race with 105 points. Da Matta, who is behind the wheel of the #21 Bell Micro/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine, was running in eighth place and looking at a possible top-five finish when rookie Ricardo Sperafico hit him while exiting the pits on lap 57 knocking both cars from the contest. Da Matta picked up four points and sits in eighth place in the standings with 84 points.

Vasser, who qualified seventh, drove a solid race making no errors and getting solid pit work from his Gulfstream/PKV Racing crew. He let the race come to him picking up four places as other competitors exited the contest as a result of on-track miscues.

"Today was one of those days where the PKV Racing team just had to take what the race gave us," Vasser said. "I think that a fourth place showing was about as good as we could expect. We were hoping to do better in qualifying, but all in all it was a pretty decent day for the Gulfstream side," he noted. Sounding like the team owner he is, Vasser concluded by saying, "We got some good points and tightened up the championship race a bit. I do feel bad for the Bell Micro/PKV side falling out early like they did."

Now in his 14th Champ Car season, Vasser made his 224th career, record 203rd consecutive and 14th start in Toronto today. The popular and respected 39-year-old Californian is having a very consistent season through the first six races. He has finished in the top-10 in five of the first six events this year placing ninth in Long Beach, 14th in in Monterrey, Mexico, fifth in Milwaukee and sixth in both Portland and Cleveland to go with the fourth place showing today. The resident of Las Vegas, NV has qualified in the top-10 in five consecutive races and five of the six events this year including taking the first pole in PKV Racing's history (Milwaukee). In his 14 races in Toronto, Vasser has now qualified in the top-10 seven times with a best starting position of second in 1995 and finished in the top-10 eight times with a best showing of second in 2004. Vasser has finished 140 of his last 180 races and placed in the top-10 in 128 of his 224 events including 64 top-five showings. The 1996 Series Champion, who is the only owner/driver, one of four former champions and three Americans competing in the 2005 Champ Car World Series.

Da Matta, who qualified eighth, dropped to ninth on the opening lap. Stuck behind traffic he went into fuel conservation mode, but by the second stint was back into eighth place and running lap times comparable to the leaders. Looking to move up in the field, da Matta was working lap 57, when Sperafico came out of the pits and instead of hugging the inside line to let faster cars get lined up for the treacherous turn one corner, began to move to the outside making contact with da Matta's rear wheel and sending the Brazilian's into the air. The yellow flag which resulted closed the pits which in turn forced race leader Paul Tracy to stay out and run out of fuel.

"It was very confusing at the start of the race and I had a bad start, losing one place," da Matta began. "The Bell Micro/PKV Racing car was stuck behind Andrew Ranger for most of the race, so during the first stint I was trying to save fuel. On the second stint, Ranger started to pick up the pace and I just followed him. We were turning good lap times and starting to move up a little," he noted. "Then Ricardo Sperafico came out of the pits and hit me in the right rear wheel. I didn't even see him. He was on cold tires and I am sure he did not mean to hit me," da Matta explained.

Da Matta, who is contesting his fifth Champ Car season, made his 85th career start and fifth in Toronto today. The 31-year-old resident of Miami, FL started the season very strong, but has been involved in back-to-back incidents with rookies the last two races. As a result he has scored few points in the two events and, while he is still just one win from being among the leads, has dropped from the top-five in the championship race.

"Today's result is very disappointing because this is two races in a row that we didn't get very many points--that is not good for the championship race," da Matta said.

Da Matta has qualified in the top-10 at all six events this year including twice in the top five (second in Cleveland, fourth in Milwaukee) and has finished in the top-10 in three of the six races including earning PKV Racing's first win, a victory in Portland (10th in Long Beach, sixth in Monterrey). In five races in Toronto he has qualified in the top-10 three times with one pole in 2002 and finished in the top-10 twice including a win in 2002. This was the third time this year that Da Matta has tried to win consecutive races on a track that he is not the defending champion. In 2002, he won from the pole in Portland, Monterrey and Toronto before spending the next two seasons in Formula 1. This year da Matta qualified ninth and finished sixth in Monterrey; qualified 10th, finished first in Portland and qualified eighth, finished 14th in Toronto. The 2002 Series Champion, who is one of four former champions and three Brazilians competing in the series.

PKV Racing was competing in it third race in Toronto and made its fourth and fifth starts. The team has now qualified in the top-10 three times in five attempts with Vasser's seventh place starting position their highest. They have finished in the top-10 twice, both top-five showings by Vasser (second in 2004 and fourth this year).

After the first five races of the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series season, PKV Racing has already established a number of team records. Da Matta scored the team's first victory in their two plus year history in Portland while Vasser earned the team's first pole in round #3 at Milwaukee. The two drivers have combined to set team records for best combined qualifying, first and fourth at Milwaukee and best combined finish, first and sixth at Portland. They have both qualified in the top-10 in five consecutive races for the first time in team history. Da Matta and Vasser have finished in the top-10 in the same race twice (eighth and 10th at Long Beach and first and sixth at Portland) this year and at least one of them has placed in the top-six in each of the last five races, which is also a team record.

Next up for PKV Racing is the West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix of Edmonton, July 15-17, on the temporary street circuit at Finning International Speedway. The race will be televised will be televised live on SPEED Channel beginning at 3:00 p.m. (ET).

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Ricardo Sperafico , Jimmy Vasser , Paul Tracy , Andrew Ranger