CHAMPCAR/CART: Zolder: Team Australia race report

POWER FOURTH ON MIXED DAY FOR TEAM AUSTRALIA IN BELGIUM Will Power has finished fourth in the Belgian Champ Car Grand Prix on a mixed day for Team Australia at the Zolder circuit in Zolder, Belgium today. Power started from second on the grid...

POWER FOURTH ON MIXED DAY FOR TEAM AUSTRALIA IN BELGIUM

Will Power has finished fourth in the Belgian Champ Car Grand Prix on a mixed day for Team Australia at the Zolder circuit in Zolder, Belgium today.

Power started from second on the grid but lost a spot to Robert Doornbos at the first corner. Power then worked at conserving fuel and after the first two rounds of pit stops the Toowoomba-born driver had leaped back ahead of Doornbos, but was now behind Justin Wilson.

The race order was turned on its head in the late stages of the race as many drivers switched to an alternate fuel strategy, putting the likes of Graham Rahal and Bruno Junqueira ahead of Power.

The Australian was able to pass Justin Wilson but could not find a way past Rahal in the closing stages, resulting in a fourth place finish for the #5 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01.

The finish means that Power closes the gap to Doornbos in second place in the championship standings to just nine points, with the Dutchman finishing seventh at Zolder today.

French rookie Simon Pagenaud had an unlucky day at Zolder, with radio problems ruining his chances of a top five finish.

Pagenaud experienced radio problems in the #15 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01, with the radio cutting out at a crucial time when Pagenaud was scheduled to complete his final pit stop under Safety Car conditions, along with team-mate Power and race leader Sebastien Bourdais.

With no radio Pagenaud stayed out and took the race lead, showing his speed by setting the second fastest lap of the race. But despite efforts to save fuel Pagenaud eventually ran so low on fuel he was forced to pit under green flag conditions with less than 10 laps remaining, dropping him to 12th.

This weekend's performance was enough to give Team Australia second place in the Phanos European Team Cup, a two-event teams competition similar to the Canadian Triple Crown, which was won by Team Australia earlier this year. The Phanos European Team Cup will be decided next weekend in Assen.

Sebastien Bourdais won today's Belgian Champ Car Grand Prix ahead of Bruno Junqueira and Graham Rahal.

The second race in the European leg of the 2007 Champ Car World Series will be held next weekend with the Bavaria Champ Car Grand Prix to be staged at the Assen circuit in Holland on September 2.

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY --

Will Power -- #5 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01

"We accomplished part of our mission for the race and we finished in front of Doornbos," said Power.

"As far as having a real quick car, doing a real good job on fuel save, and on stops, fourth, for us is a bad result and to be honest I'm very disappointed.

"The guys did a great job and did excellent pit stops, I wish I could have given them a podium as well. The important thing is that we finished ahead of the people we needed to catch up with, except for Bourdais and now we aim to be on podium in Assen."

Simon Pagenaud -- #15 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01

"We had a rough day," said Pagenaud.

"We had a very good car overall since this morning's warm-up, where we were P1. We had the second fastest lap in the race, so the car was good and we had a great gap when we were leading and we were able to show the Aussie Vineyards colours up front for a while.

"It's a shame, because we had a radio problem during the race and at one very critical point we should have pitted and we didn't, because I didn't have any information.

"I stayed out and unfortunately we didn't have enough fuel to make it to the end. We tried to pit as late as we could, but I think the race was over for us at that point."

Derrick Walker -- Team Australia Co-Owner

"It was a pretty frustrating day really," said Walker.

"We had two fantastic race cars, everything was going according to plan, but at the end of the day we came up short.

"We had a radio problem with Simon, you can't win races without radio in this business and we owe him an apology there, we should have had a radio for him.

"It's a shame because he had the pace and deserved better.

"Will started P2, lost two places in the race, gained them back and still ended up fourth, that's the way Champ Car racing is.

"The pit strategies really changed dramatically when half the field comes in on a different strategy. I don't think there is anything else we could have done.

"We had a really good race, but fourth still isn't good enough but we closed up the gap on second in the championship."

Craig Gore -- Team Australia Co-Owner

"The pace of our cars was very strong but the strategy just didn't fall our way today," said Gore.

"The crew gave us great stops and that got Will back past Doornbos and then Will got past Wilson out on the track, but as it turned out, two other cars had jumped up in the order.

"I'm sure Will is disappointed that he did not get Team Australia another podium finish today, but one thing we can take away from Zolder is that Will has closed right up on Doornbos for second in the championship.

"Simon had a quick car today but once he didn't pit with the leaders near the end it was always going to be tough for him. He experienced radio problems, so did not get a call to come in. It's bad luck because I know he really wanted to do well this weekend in front of his family and friends.

"Next weekend at Assen we get a chance to improve on this result. Will is going to be keen to get back into second in the series standings and Simon will want to put this weekend behind him and push for his first podium.

"Assen is the last event before our home race, the Lexmark Indy 300 on the Gold Coast, so next weekend will be pretty important for Team Australia."

AUSTRALIAN TV SCHEDULE
Tuesday 28 August 2007
Seven @12:30am -- 3:00am

ABOUT ZOLDER CIRCUIT
Location: Heusden-Zolder, Belgium
Circuit Type: Permanent Road Course
First Champ Car Event: 2007
Track Length: 2.492 miles (4.010 kilometres)

-credit: team australia

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Bruno Junqueira , Graham Rahal , Sébastien Bourdais , Robert Doornbos , Will Power , Simon Pagenaud