Another Top Ten Finish for Target Team Motegi, Japan-- Saturday, April 30th, 2005-- The sun shone brightly over the Twin Ring Motegi on a holiday weekend in Japan that brought out fervent Japanese racing fans in droves and those that cheered...
Another Top Ten Finish for Target Team
Motegi, Japan-- Saturday, April 30th, 2005-- The sun shone brightly over the Twin Ring Motegi on a holiday weekend in Japan that brought out fervent Japanese racing fans in droves and those that cheered for the Target team were rewarded with a fourth top ten finish this season. Darren Manning improved from his 12th place starting position on the grid to finish eighth and had he gotten a bit more luck for his birthday, the #10 Target Toyota Panoz might have finished even higher, as numerous cautions flags wreaked havoc on fuel strategy and a yellow flag on the final lap made for an interesting end to the Bridgestone Indy Japan 300.
"The #10 Target Toyota had a really good run today especially at the end there," said Manning whose fastest lap of the race was set on lap 197 of 200. "I could go pretty much where I needed to and we got some really good runs on people in the last stint. It was a shame that we had to come in for a splash of fuel but everyone was really close to empty as well and it was that last yellow really buggered us. I think we would have been able to move up a few more spots as others ran out of fuel. We play to win and that's what we were going for. It was a good day and a positive way to head into the month of May."
If anything, Manning has certainly been consistent scoring top ten finishes in every race this season. Only Dan Wheldon, leader in the IndyCar driver standings, and Tony Kanaan, in second spot, have four top tens as well.
Target Team rookie driver Ryan Briscoe also felt pretty positive about his race day as he took the checkered flag in 12th spot.
"It was nice to finally get in a full race experience in and it wasn't half bad," said Briscoe who completed his first IndyCar race after accidents knocked him out early in the first three races of the season. "We were just a bit out with the gear ratio especially in sixth which made it difficult to pass on the straights, but I had good speed into the corners and I could get a good run on guys there. We made really good use of our pit stops and we had a good strategy. I just got stuck in a slower group at the start which put us a lap back but we made that up by the midway point of the race and worked our way up to eighth place at one point. Unfortunately we had some fuel surge issues at the very end that probably cost us a few spots but otherwise I am pleased with today's result. It makes things rather promising for Indy."
Scott Dixon who took the helm of a new Dallara chassis for this race weekend but saw much more of the race from the pits than his cockpit when he was knocked out of the race on the very first lap after his #9 Target Toyota was an unfortunate bystander of a spin in front of him.
"Not sure what it is but I just haven't had much luck here," said Dixon who was checked and release by the IRL medical staff after his third accident at the Motegi track in as many years. "I'm not sure just what happened but it looked like the #44 car spun on cold tires and I had nowhere to go. It's very unfortunate particularly since we didn't get a chance to gather much data on the Dallara in a race situation for the Target engineering team. We'll just have to shrug it off and put all our efforts into having a good month of preparations for the Indy 500.
Defending winner of the Japan Indy, Dan Wheldon ran among the leaders throughout the race and benefited when race leader Tomas Scheckter ran out of fuel on lap 198 of 200 to take his 3rd victory of the year. Scott Sharp finished second for his best finish since a placing fourth in Michigan in 2003. Buddy Rice finished a season best third.
The Target team now heads back to the United States to prepare for the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing", the 89th Indianapolis 500, starting with Target Pioneer Driver Ryan Briscoe's participation in the Rookie Orientation Program on Sunday May 8th at the famed 2.5 mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Throughout the 2005 season, fans are invited to follow the team's progress by logging onto their official website at targetracing.com for news, features, photos and much more.