SECOND PODIUM OF THE YEAR FOR TEAM OZ Team Australia's Alex Tagliani took the team's second podium finish of the year with a brilliant and hard-fought third place at the Molson Indy Toronto in Canada today. After starting fifth, Tagliani held...
SECOND PODIUM OF THE YEAR FOR TEAM OZ
Team Australia's Alex Tagliani took the team's second podium finish of the year with a brilliant and hard-fought third place at the Molson Indy Toronto in Canada today.
After starting fifth, Tagliani held that position from the start in the Aussie Vineyards-sponsored Lola. Aided by the help of two perfect pit stops by the Team Australia crew, Tagliani worked his way up to second place by lap 59.
A series of late race yellow flag safety car periods bunched up the pack and Tagliani was actually passed in turn three by race winner Justin Wilson on a lap 65 restart.
However, Tagliani's Aussie team-mate Marcus Marshall was the innocent victim of an accident in turn one on the same lap when Ryan Hunter-Reay and Nelson Philippe touched -- sending Philippe spinning into Marshall's path.
The yellow flag was displayed prior to Wilson completing the pass, but race officials disagreed with the Canadian star, letting the positions stand and putting Tagliani back to third.
Tagliani then fell to fourth at the next restart as he struggled to hold off the pack with no time left on the unique "push to pass" feature which provides drivers with 60 seconds of extra power to use at their discretion during the race.
Tagliani set chase after new third place man AJ Allmendinger and was lucky to escape disaster when the American hit the inside wall in turn six and speared across the track into the outside fence.
While Tagliani was able to sneak through, some of the following cars were not as fortunate with Mario Dominguez hitting Allmendinger's car at full speed -- covering the track with debris and badly damaging the tyre wall.
The Team Australia #15 Lola graduated back to third spot but picked up a slow puncture after having to drive through the carbon fibre debris across the track on the following lap.
The team spent an anxious few laps before the race finished under yellow with Tagliani escaping having to pit again for new Bridgestone rubber.
The result was Team Australia's second podium finish of the year, coming after Tagliani's similar result in Monterrey, Mexico. The finish also moves him to seventh place in the points standings in the 2005 Champ Car World Series.
The Monterrey and Mexico results have been the first time an Australian-owned team has finished on the podium in major open-wheel competition since Jack Brabham in F1 in the 1960s.
WHAT IS AUSSIE VINEYARDS/TEAM AUSTRALIA?
Australia will again play host to the Champ Car World Series on the streets of Surfers Paradise for the Lexmark Indy 300 from October 20-23. This year will be the first year in the event's history that a full-time Australian team will compete for glory on home soil.
Team Australia is a new Champ Car entry created for 2005 by veteran team owner Derrick Walker and Australian businessmen Craig Gore and John Fish.
The team will contest the championship with major sponsorship from Aussie Vineyards, a new Queensland company established by Gore and Fish to export Australian wine into the US market.
The pair is looking to use the program as a tool for other Australian businesses also wishing to market their products and services into the US.
ALEX TAGLIANI -- CAR #1
"This is fantastic to get a podium result here in Toronto -- the team did a brilliant job for me today, their pit stops were perfect."
"We were a little high on tire pressures in my first stint and I had to use a bit too much of my "push to pass" time to hold position."
"Justin got by me on one of the restarts but it actually went yellow before he made the pass but the officials let it stand."
"It was tough holding off the guys who still had "push to pass", but once they had used it up, I was able to keep right with AJ (Allmendinger)."
"I was right behind him when he touched the inside wall and crashed, so I was lucky to get away with that."
"I was even luckier that the race didn't go green again, because I picked up a puncture the next time around from all the debris that was all over the track."
"The team keep giving me a fantastic car and I have to thank the Aussie Vineyards guys and Derrick and all the boys for the great job they are doing."
"We have had a couple of DNFs which really hurt us in the points, but apart from that, we have been remarkably consistent to move up to 7th."
MARCUS MARSHALL -- CAR #5
"Obviously I am very disappointed, but kind of pleased the car showed some good speed today. My first top ten was there for the taking today, but I suppose I am learning that not all the guys out there are necessarily going to leave you racing room."
"Every other top series I have run, most guys give you that."
"I had nowhere to go when Philippe spun and I feel really bad for the guys because they worked really hard to give me a strong car for the race."
"Luckily, the damage wasn't too bad, but it was enough to put me out of the race."
"I was behind the eight ball a little after tapping the wall on Friday, but we had kept out of trouble in the race and my first top ten was there for the taking."
"We now have to set our sights on Edmonton - I am sure that result is just around the corner."
DERRICK WALKER -- CO-OWNER, TEAM AUSTRALIA
"At the end of the day our problem with Wilson passing Alex under yellow really didn't make a lot of difference because both of the RuSPORT cars had a fair amount of "push to pass" left at that stage and they could pretty much set us up and take us at the end."
"But we did get lucky at the end with the puncture and it was a good result for us -- we did what we had to do and got as much out of the car as we could -- no complaints."
"Alex drove a very patient race because at this type of track it is so tempting to dive in at the last minute and make a late braking manoeuvre. You can get into the corner and find you have no room and hurt the car. Alex used good judgement and didn't try to take unnecessary chances -- he raced hard, but he raced smart."
"Marcus was very unlucky with what happened. We were running a slightly different pit strategy which put him up there in the top ten and he was certainly running quick enough to hold onto it."
"Why Hunter-Reay thought he could overtake going into that corner three wide, I really don't understand. It was unfortunate for Marcus because he desperately needed a result and he deserved one today."
CRAIG GORE -- CO-OWNER, TEAM AUSTRALIA
"What a result. To have a podium result in Monterrey in only our second race was fantastic, but I think this result really shows that we are in the game."
"For Alex to have this result in front of a home crowd in Canada is a tremendous result for him, Team Australia, Aussie Vineyards and all our other sponsors."
"All of Derrick Walker's guys are working so hard on the success of this program and I think with the progression we are making that we will have to be considered a serious contender when we head to the Gold Coast for the Lexmark Indy 300 at the end of October."
"Marcus was on target for a top 10 result, but then got caught up in someone else's accident, which can easily happen on a street course like Toronto."
"We are giving everyone on the Gold Coast, in Queensland and Australia a reason to really get behind us and take ownership of our race team."
"We are doing everything we can to fly the Australian flag as high as we can in international competition and so far we have managed to get those colours a long way up the flag pole."
AUSTRALIAN TELEVISION: The Cleveland round of the Champ Car World Series will be telecast on Network Ten at 1.40am (AEST) on July 11.